Author Archives: Howie Reed

Column #HR258 This week’s Premier League finals… and a beautiful Latin lady

Monday, May 20, 2019
Column HR258
This week’s Premier League finals… and a beautiful Latin lady

It’s time for the Old Dart Coach to do his spring column cleaning – to bring the dear faithful reader the rest of the news in the darting world that’s fit to print.

The Premier League finals are this Thursday…

Night 16 had “mucho” excitement for the packed house at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. The scenario saw Michael van Gerwen trailing leader Rob Cross by a single point.  Top of the standing includes a healthy £25,000 league leader bonus.

van Gerwen did the business with an 8-5 win over a gritty Mensur Suljovic. The Marvelous One led 5-nil without allowing Suljovic a double.  Then he lost a leg which was followed by 3 more making the match 5-3.  John Part, commentator par excellence, pointed out that during a match van Gerwen is sometimes “so focused on a high average that when he loses that chance, he sometimes forgets the goal is winning the match.”

Rob Cross would fail in his goal to finish top of the table as James Wade broke their 4-all match and took a 6-4. Cross fought back to get within one leg at 6-5 and 7-6.  Wade’s win, predicted by the ODC, allowed the “bald one” to finish level with Jerry Feather in the PL handicapping contest.  Had the ODC lost to Feather he would have been forced to bow towards Colorado three times a day saying, “I’m not worthy.”

The PL win for van Gerwen was his 7th on the trot.  He takes on Daryl Gurney in the final four (Gurney handed van Gerwen two of his three PL league defeats). Wade will face Cross once again at the 02 in London.

With van Gerwen the obvious favorite it should be noted that he lost a Players Championship match 7-2 on Saturday to PDC rookie Glen Durrant in the lead up to PL final.  MvG passed on the Sunday event.

The Premier League is a big hit on TV.  The ODC estimated, as the PDC provided no figures, that an audience of 4 million watched each Thursday. In 16 weeks, the total is 64 million. (In the heyday of Mr. Lowe-Bristow the Embassy drew 9 million viewers.)

Recently, Mr. John Lowe was in China for the China Trophy of Darts. In the final he eked out a 1 leg win over Dennis Priestly.  Reportedly that final drew 37 million viewers.  Now that’s a “WOW.”  The ODC “speed dialed” Guinness to record the match as a world record – the oldest player in Mr. John Lowe at 73 with the largest one-time TV audience.

How about them apples?

The draw for the BetVictor PDC World Cup June 6-9 in Hamburg has been made. Unlike the draws made by the WDF for their World Cups the hometown team didn’t get a sweetheart draw into the finals or even the round of 8.

Germany’s wonder boys, Max Hopp and Martin Schindler, should get by the rookie pair from Hungary of Pal Szekely and Janos Vegso.  A win and Germany will face either #7 ranked Belgium or unseeded Hong Kong. Watch out for Hong Kong with Royden Lam who may be the second-best steel/machine dart player in the world.

Both teams from North America should escape the first round but then trouble looms.  Canada should easily defeat Italy as the USA should China.

The current then gets a lot swifter and the water deeper in the next round when Canada will face #1 England which might struggle in round one against an “under-appreciated” team from the Philippines.

The USA has a chance to make the round of 8 with wins over China and #8 Austria.

The ODC will have a round by round prediction as the event grows closer.

The ODC kind of celebrated May Day but not by dancing around the May Pole wearing flowers where his hair use to be…

Rather, he named the ADO International teams and wrote of the ADO Masters ladies’ team and its inclusion of a lady named Stitches.  And, with a mind that’s still battling the loss of the rotary phone he remembered a lady darter named “Pickles.”

Well, as if by magic (actually, Facebook) he found Pickles.  She is alive and well living what passes for the good in Arizona.  She found a 10-step program to ween her off darts and is living happily ever after. No doubt she’s a sweet Pickles and not a dill. There’s life after darts.

“Barry Hearn’s Challenge to North America,” screamed the headline on Facebook.  Not really…

As happens all too often the “headline writer” put their own spin on a story. What Hearn did was explain that the US Darts Masters was a chance for North America’s best to meet the best of the PDC July 1-2 in Las Vegas.

It’s the PDC which is “challenged” to understand the North America darting culture where 99.9% of steel darters play for the pure enjoyment of the game.

Writing of Facebook, has it ever caused any wonder why just because someone is a Facebook friend that you’d want to know when their birthday is?  Just today, the ODC got an email telling him that “Oswald R. Grabenstanch knows that you’re thinking of him on his birthday.”  Well, Old Oswald is wrong. The ODC not only isn’t thinking of him on his birthday but was reminded that he’d forgotten to unfriend him a long time ago. Thanks Facebook, for helping to cull the herd.

The ODC was a recent podcast guest on a horse racing handicapping show for the Las Vegas newspaper and a local casino.  On the way, fighting nerves, he stopped at the Dollar Store for fortification – red licorice and two packets of Tic Tac. In line he found himself behind a very attractive Latin lady with long black hair, flashing brown eyes, designer jeans and high heels.  The ODC (naturally) thought, “What’s not to like!”

The lady in front of the Latin beauty had a full shopping card so the line was stalled (much to the pleasure of the ODC).

As people do in line, the Latin lady smiled as she checked out the array of 4-packs of gum. She selected a pack of Big Red which caused the ODC to remark “Es Muy Bueno.”  She smiled more.  On a roll he continued, “Es caliente!” Another smile.

As such meetings go it was time to move forward as the lady at the head of the line finally checked out – with bill of $237.85.

At a Dollar Store!

The Latin lady had just a few items, darn it, for a total of $11.36. The ODC’s was $3.00 – he had three bills in hand.

The ODC watched the Latin lady take out several dollar bills and count them. When she handed her money to the cashier, she was $2.00 short.

She then took two more bills out of her purse, saw the ODC looking, and said, “I got them dancing last night. NO, just kidding.”

The ODC looked down at his three singles and replied, “Me too”  and then remarked further, “You did better.”

She left smiling as the ODC saw another opportunity missed.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR257 Bend over. Grab your ankles.

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Column HR257
Bend over.  Grab your ankles.

Sometimes the Old Dart Coach has to grab his ankles and admit he made a mistake. This is one of those times.  He issues this apology after first calling Guinness to register his recent error.

In his last column the ODC wrote that Ian “Cubic Zirconia” White lost twice recently in finals to Michael van Gerwen, 8-3 and 8-7.  The term “Cubic Zirconia” is used for the best of fake diamonds. White uses the handle “Diamond.”  I hereby apologize.

Most everyone knows the old saying “third times the charm.”  White would make his third final on the trot to a European darts final. This one the Grand Prix (the “x” is silent) of Germany where White wouldn’t face Michael van Gerwen. The “Marvelous One” lost in the semifinals to Peter Wright, 6-3. As another example of the late Sid Waddell’s famous “it’s a funny old game” quote about darts, the Thursday before in Premier League play van “it’s a funny old game” Gerwen opened a can of “WA” beating Wright 8-1. Entering the final night of Premier League Rob Cross sits atop the standings leading van Gerwen by a point. Should they tie, van Gerwen would win the regular league title on +legs and collect £25,000.

van Gerwen would seem to have the easiest road to the top as he faces Mensur Suljovic who is like the little girl – “when Suljovic goods he’s really, really good and when he’s bad he’s horrid.” Rob Cross faces James Wade who has 2 wins and 2 draws from his last 4. Cross is 2-1-1 in his last 4.

In the final in Germany, White would escape by the “hair of his chinny chin chin” prevailing 8-7 in a match that had more twists and turns than an argument with one’s partner for life.  White had moved into the finals with a 7-5 win over a resurgent Steve Beaton (who seems to have tapped into the Fountain of Youth) as Wright gave Jamie Hughes a schooling, 7-1.

In the final White recorded the first break of throw with a 170-check to take a 3-1 lead that lasted only for the next 2 legs when the match leveled at 3. They traded serve to stayed tied at 6. Then White misfired attempting a 120-check, missing tops. Wright erased 104 with double 16 to get the lead at 7-6, one leg from victory. White would tie at 7 when he used a T80, his second of the match, to tie things at 7. White held throw for his second European title and £25,000. Yes, White said he was “over the moon.”

The ODC should have mentioned that the ADO’s announcement of a World Cup Team was for the WDF World Cup, which some rude folks may consider “What da f—,” but not the ODC. The PDC has announced the official teams for the BETVICTOR World Cup of Darts which plays June 6-9 at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg. That’s Hamburg in Germany not Pennsylvania, New York, California, Florida or Texas.  One of the main differences between the two World Cups is that the PDC has a prize fund of £350,000 with £70,000 going to the winning team. That’s an increase of £350,000.   The WDF event provides medals and all the glory that go with them.

This year’s event will have 32 teams with some new faces on seeded team including the #1 seed England where Rod Cross will be joined by Michael Smith. The seeds were decided by the ranking number of the players involved, not money won as was done in the past.  As an example, Cross is #2 and Smith is #6 equaling 8 points for England. The lower the number the higher the seed.  It’s an English thing. Back in the day when the ODC did the ESPN Challenge of Champions with Chris Berman he explained the game of darts: “You start with 501 and when you get to nothing you win. It’s an English thing.”

Returning will be last year’s #1 seed Scotland (this year the #2 seed) with Peter Wright and the sometimes-injured Gary Anderson. Wales returns Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton to capture the #3 slot with Michael van Gerwen and rookie Jermaine Wattimena securing the #4 seed.

Not that anyone axed, but the ODC would seed Scotland #1 as they return last year’s runner up team that lost 3-1 to the Netherlands.  The ODC’s #2 seed would be the Netherlands’ van Gerwen-Wattimena (the later replacing Raymond van Barneveld).  Put England #3 and Wales returning pair of Price-Clayton in the 4th spot mainly, because some team has to be.

North America’s represented by Dawson Murschell and Jim Long of Canada and Darin Young and Chuck Puleo from the USA.  The American team was chosen based on the standings of the Champion Dart Circuit which is the recognized body in the USA by the PDC.  For the first time this year the PDC also provided some financial assistance to the CDC.  Like the PDC the CDC uses a “two year rolling Order of Merit.”  Young and Puleo rank one and two ahead of Canadians Jim Long and Danny Lauby II.

As noted, the Canadian team includes Dawson Murschell (based on the PDC Order of Merit. Then, the PDC went to the CDC Order of Merit. Jim Long and Danny Lauby II where tied for 3rd with 106 points. Ontario’s Long would win out as he had 116 wins over loses to Lauby’s 89.  A first – as neither John Part nor Larry Butler will be representing their respective countries.

How will North America fair? All depends on the draw.

If they should draw into a seeded team it’ll be “one and done.” Have a nice trip home and buy a t-shirt.

On the other hand, with a “friendly” draw they could make the top 8, with a break.

Last year, the USA got runner up Scotland. They went down 5-1. Canada had a more favorable draw taking out Italy 5-1 only to fall to Japan 2-1 in the next round.

There are always a few surprises. Last year, it was Singapore who went out 2-1 to England in the round of 16. The Singapore Slingers Paul and Harith Lim are back.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR256 Some things are true because they’re true!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Column HR256
Some things are true because they’re true!

As he has want to do, the Old Dart Coach was musing at his humble Hacienda estate. He wrote on April 29, 2019, that “Some things are true because they’re true.”

For example, for sports music May is the best. It starts with “My Old Kentucky Home” on the first Saturday prior to the Kentucky Derby (the best 2 minutes in sports) and ends the last Sunday of the month with “Back Home in Indiana” prior to the Indy 500 (the most exciting spectacle in sport).

Then there’s beer – good. Tequila – bad.

Pizza – good. Kale – bad.

Popeye’s and Jollibee’s chicken – simply wonderful.

Some may disagree.

But there was no argument when Mr. John Lowe received his MBE recently at Buckingham Palace. All darters should be proud.

The recognition was for Mr. Lowe’s long-time service to darts and charity – a well-deserved honor to a truly unassuming hero who more darters might want to emulate. The ODC is of the opinion that Prince William was probably “over the moon” to meet Mr. Lowe.  The ODC was when he and Mr. Lowe first met.

These days, Michael van Gerwen is the best dart player in the world.  The 30-year-old Dutch Shoe and Special Brownies guy is facing the very best with astounding results.  In the past three weeks, van Gerwen has annexed European titles number 30, 31 and 32 with combined paychecks of £75,000 which in US dollars is $98,194 and a meaningless 39 cents. In Canada that’s $132,087.72.  At the German Grand Prix (the “x” is silent) van Gerwen spanked Simon Whitlock 8-3 averaging 106.45. van Gerwen holds the record for all-time TV average at 123.40 (2016 Premier League) and 114.05 (World Championship 2017, semi-final).

The following two weeks van Gerwen would collect titles 31 and 32 bidding farewell twice to Ian “Cubic Zirconia” White 8-3 and 8-7.  In the quarter finals of the German Open van Gerwen would squeeze out a 6-5 victory over youngster Nathan Aspinall. The name Aspinall is unfamiliar to most North American darting fans.  He makes his North American debut (the “but” is silent) at the US Darts Masters July 3-4 in Las Vegas. He’ll be joining van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney, Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith in the all-star lineup.

Aspinall, the 27-year old Stockport native, is having some kind of 2019. He hit the big time at the 2019 World Professional Championship when he reached the semi-final losing 6-3 (sets) to Michael Smith. He would get his first major TV win when he checked 170 to beat Rob Cross in the UK Open. The two finishes provided £200,000 to his bank account.

As the 1st of May is a week past, for North American darters it’s time to think about a July trip to Las Vegas for the US Dart Masters. Many book rooms away from the Mandalay Bay venue opting for more economical residence. Word of warning: while most are wise to “hidden resort fee’s” and “parking fees” beware of another way that Vegas casinos dive into visitor’s pockets.

The latest?  A “fee” for using your room’s refrigerator for personal use!

The casino explained with straight faces, “It cost us extra money when a person uses the in-room refrigerator for personal use products.”  Some things are false just because they are. When booking be sure to ask. Bring your own ice chest – though some bell staff will refuse to carry ice chests or even provide a cart. Arrogant bastards. Give ’em the high hard and long one finger salute. Not everything that happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.

It looks very much like the Tungsten God, she who has say in all thing’s darts, has finally answered the ODC’s prayers. He has prayed for years that the stupid game called Cricket/Mickey Mouse would go the way of feather flights. Checking four ADO major tournaments, chosen at random, the entry in men’s ‘01 singles is 37.5% higher than for Cricket.  Darters have finally figured out that not hitting doubles is far out shadowed by a good player hitting the bigger trebles.

The ADO has named both Masters and World Cup Teams. Only “Chainsaw” Joe Chaney made both teams. He’ll be joined for the World Cup, October 7-11 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania by Kevin Luke, Jerry Van Loan and Jim Widmayer.  For the World Masters, somewhere in England October 25-27, Joe Huffman, Larry Butler and Danny Delfino will join “Chainsaw.”  The ladies World Cup Team is comprised of Robin Curry, Cali West, Stacey Pace and Marlise Kiel. On the Masters Team are Stitches Preciado and Bonnie Wei. Stitches has got to be the best dart name since “Pickles” back in the day.

Those that have subscribed to PDC-TV in North America may have noticed that the streaming, to use a darting term, sucks. Facebook was alive with complaints recently that were accurate. The ODC’s gal pal Ms. Sally Kelly wrote, “I am not one to usually complain, but PDC TV is getting to be unwatchable. The last few tournaments have had their share of glitches but today is was unbelievable. First match kept going to a black screen. Second match gets to 5-4 and starts over. Gets to 5-5 and starts over again. Jumps to 5-2 and finishes. I never saw the last game. Then they show the end of the third match. Now back to the beginning of third match. And I pay for this?”

The PDC did change streaming partners. Following that change the service became questionable.  There is no doubt that the PDC will rectify the situation. Or not. It’s sad as steel darts in American continues to lose ground to the machine game. Some have forgotten that darts is supposed to be fun. Machine operators are well aware.

The ODC got an envelope in the mail with “Cards enclosed. Not transferable.” He opened it to find two AARP membership cards enclosed. He then immediately transferred them to the trash. They were indeed transferable.

Michael Middleton, 43, was arrested for marrying four women at the same time.  He pled insanity and was found guilty. The judge sentenced him to no jail time. Guess she figured he’d been penalized enough.

Some things are true because they’re true.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR255 It was a dark and stormy night…

Monday, April 11, 2019
Column HR255
It was a dark and stormy night…

…many years ago, on December 31.

(In truth, it wasn’t “dark and stormy” but in the mid-50s with occasional showers. “Dark and stormy” sounds more literary.)

At Pine Meadows Golf Course in Martinez, California, the New Year’s Eve revelry was slowly taking shape.  The man who would become a living legend stepped behind the bar to “walk the plank.”  At 1:30 a.m. just two people remained – the Governors of the local dart league, Phil and Erlene Hakola.

The bartender accepted their kind offer to help with clean up in exchange for a game of darts.  This is the same bartender who spent the better part of the summer and winter making fun of all the dart players, especially on league night.  His first game was terrible although during the year he advanced to bad.

The rest is history.  Since that night things have changed and not only in darts.  In darts, gone are wooden darts with feather flights which were replaced by brass darts with feather flights which would be replaced with tungsten darts and plastic flights.  The feather flight became obsolete once players started to actually throw groups.  “Three in a bed” during league night back then could be as good for a post-game hookup as three trebles are today.

The players threw from 8 feet in the Colonies while the rest of the world threw at from 7’6”.  A compromise was met at 2.35 meters or 7’9 ¾”.  Darts moved on without a hiccup just as the world survived the “Y2K Doomsday Clock” on December 31, 1999, when the earth and life was supposed to come to a resounding end.

The bartender along with The Kid, Two-Dart, Poona Head and a couple of guys without nicknames formed a “C” league team called “The Nads.”  The bartender thought it would be funny when fans cheered “Go Nads!”  The name lasted years.

Back then, a set of Nicky Virachkul tungsten darts sold for the princely sum of $22.  Everyone tried to be very English.  When a 26 score was rung up, which it was often, it was “Bed and Breakfast” as the story was that was the cost of same in England.

The big event was the English invasion which started in Washington D.C.  Then, it was on to the Golden Gate Classic, followed by Santa Monica and finally the North American.  The big names from the UK were Bristow, Mr. Lowe, Whitcomb, Baker and Leighton Rees while the ladies were ruled by Maureen Flowers and Linda Batten.  The Nads would attend the 1975 Golden Gate Classic.  The ladies’ final saw the Queen of Darts, Maureen Flowers, face an 18-year old from Dayton, Ohio – Julie Nicoll.

Ms. Nicoll would have an auspicious start to the final when she tripped going on stage.  “I’m on my belly staring at my father’s face.  He says to me matter of factually, ‘You can’t win from here, Nicoll!’”

Julie would defeat Flowers.

The next beginner’s trip was to the North American held on the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach.  For the first North American 45 members of the Northern California Darts Association car caravanned after Wednesday night darts with many stops for a pause for the cause.  Most wore t-shirts with “Assault on The Queen” plastered across the back.  An extra room was rented just for the bathtub to store the beer on ice.

One darter from the group, a former trumpeter in the Marines, figured he could blow reverie at 6:00 a.m. into the ship’s intercom and it would be sounded in every room – which he did, and it was.  The phantom trumpeter was never exposed.  The North America would move to the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, still the culmination of each darting year.  Like Grand Central Station it was the crossroads of the darting world.

Playing steel darts was hard.  Every throw was an 8-foot putt and players had to know how to add and subtract to set up outs and then hit a double.  That aside, steel darts ruled but the handwriting was on the wall and ignored, maybe because no one in power could read.  Just two words: “machine darts.”

Steel darters made fun of the machine game with cries of “it’s too easy” or “I’m not paying to play darts.”  Golfing great Jack Nicolaus once explained a decline in golf in similar terms: it’s “too difficult.”

Bingo!

The once-a-week player, with no time to practice as they have lives, wants to have fun.  The steel tournament system has shrunk from its high point in the 1980s and early 90s.  The North America and other tournaments are long gone.

Once-a-week players have no chance at the few remaining steel tournaments and they know it, so stay home.  Machine darters play against those with similar ability.  Machine darts tournaments flourish.

It’s not rocket science.  Unless the USA comes up with a solution machine darts will grow and steel darts will continue to decline.  The “world’s biggest soft tip tournament, “NDA Team Darts” arrives in Las Vegas for a 7-day run this week.

Many players from the Golden Era thought that, maybe, when the PDC made its first trip to Las Vegas in 2017 it would occasion a “reunion” for American darters – an opportunity after so many years to get together and swap tales from bygone days while enjoying a refreshing beverage or two.

Some tried to convince the PDC that some type of event be held in conjunction with their event.  Those in power at the PDC turned a deaf ear displaying no interest, not even answering the queries.  To be fair the PDC needs America like a fat person needs to super-size a Big Mac, order of fries and a diet coke.

This year, the PDC’s US Darts Masters will visit Las Vegas over the July 4th week.  July 2 and 3 the North American Darts Qualifiers will be held (and is closed to the public).  Then, on July 4 and 5 will be the actual US Darts Masters.  There will be a ton of fans from the Motha Country where a 4-day tour is available for £1,250 ($1,629.61).  That tour includes air fare, 4 days lodging (two to a room) with beverages not included.

For Norte Americano’s tickets are available from www.axs.com with bleacher tickets at $47.60 – which with the usual Vegas gouge is $58.50 – and table seats at $69.40.  There are season tickets at $175.50 plus Vegas vig (also known as “juice, under-juice” or the “cut of the take” – in this case, the tax and handling fee that Las Vegas tacks on).  Last year, the bleachers were as bare as the bartender’s bald dome.

The lineup for this year’s Las Vegas event includes “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney, Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith, Nathan Aspinall and defending US champ Gary Anderson.

You may ask: what is a “Nathan Aspinall?”  He was UK Open champion and a semi-finalist at the World Championship.  Impressed?

Whilst driving around viewing his Kingdom the Old Dart Coach heard a radio commercial advertising a product for “A Reptile Dysfunction.”  How do you know if your reptile has a dysfunction?”

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

Column #HR254 NEWS ALERT times deux!

Monday, April 1, 2019
Column HR254
NEWS ALERT times deux!

As all in the world darting universe are aware, the Old Dart Coach is always described as “calm, cool and collected.” It’s possible that Rudyard Kipling was writing about him when he penned, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”  Two items of some note here: 1) the name Rudyard is not pronounced “Rudy Yard” and 2) if your name is Marie Antoinette this description would not apply.

NEWS ALERT: Raymond van Barneveld, after suffering his second 7-1 defeat in 24 hours during Premier League play, said Zonder Meer!!! (No more!!!), deciding to retire immediately.  Barney, playing in his home country, left his Army in stunned silence and disbelief. The duo embarrassment was compounded as the final loss was to countryman Michael van Gerwen. 

We now return you to Toeing the Oche…

The great Jerry Umberger, once called “Umby” by a really good writer Ms. Janet Searcy-Wintermuith (it was Jerry who christened Houston Hartwell Reed II “The Coach”). That was at a time when the aforementioned “HHR II” using skill, guile and his cult-like people skills coached the gold-winning team at the Pacific Cup to a bronze. On that he has been built a career, becoming an international star, author and bon vivant of little renown.

The ODC, with a voice for silent movies, a face for radio and the writing skills of an aardvark, is highly critical of those that ply those trades.  He’s completely at ease with his actions under the license issued by George Bernard Shaw in 1903 when he wrote, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

Darts at the PDC level has evolved from a game to a sport – a game being an “activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime: party games; word games” as opposed to a sport which is “physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.” With the metamorphosis from game to sport has come pressure, rock star fame and money.

The internet is a great invention that facilitates communication and knowledge. Negatively, it’s a platform that many use to spout endless intellectually-ignorant drivel under the guise of opinion. Everyone has opinions and like backsides some should be ignored.

Darts seem to bring out the worst. The ODC is tired of them all.

“How tired?”

“Lili Von Shtupp tired.”

(Editor’s note: Lili Von Shtupp was the Madeline Kahn character in the movie Blazing Saddles. She was really tired.)

One such individual, using disgustingly foul language, seems hell bent to Hana to slag everything and everyone to justify his miserable existence. “I don’t pretend to be a journalist, it’s just me giving my opinions, highlighting people’s hypocrisy, stupidly etc.” It’s understandable – ducking the journalist tag while shinning the light on his own shortcomings. In short, he writes about himself.

PDC Darts as a sport demands new techniques. Using a coach is highly advisable.  Darts has for years had managers whose task it is/was to keep the player earning.  The late Tommy Cox was an example of the manager allowing the player to earn a living.  A combination manager/coach was the late John Markovic who along with Dr. “WB” Batten had two world champions: Keith Deller and Bob Anderson.

This ODC’s current rant was prompted by a posting which commented on two-time world champion Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis extricating himself from manager/coach Keith Deller. “Why would a two-time world champion need to take advice from a guy who won less than he did in his career?” Being a world champion or winning titles does not necessarily mean that someone has coaching ability.  Many very good natural ability players have no “eye dear” how to teach the game.

The coach must detect nuances that effect a player’s ability to perform at top level. It’s another question whether todays “rock star” players are coachable.  With Lewis, like Pogo, the answer was simple: he was and is the problem as his nickname “Big Baby” implies.

The Imbecile of the Internet then offered his advice to ITV and Sky TV.  “They need to **** out Mardle Mason and all those who never won a major. Replace them with players who actually won something – at least their opinion would be valuable. That’s why Bristow was superb on comms.”  This individual has no understanding of the role of a TV darts commentator.

The best commentator ever was Sid Waddell who lost to the ODC once in the “reporters” Embassy – which defined his dart prowess.  The position of commentator calls for a little dart experience, a little knowledge, a little language skill and a whole lot of personality.  It has “Sweet Fanny Adams” to do with titles.  Mardle, Part, and Harrington check all the boxes (school’s still out on Webster). Eric Bristow was successful because he was Eric Bristow with a personality bigger than all outdoors.

NEWS ALERT: We again interrupt Toeing the Oche with the news that Raymond van Barneveld has decided to unretire one day after retiring.  “For months my life has been a rollercoaster of emotions. My personal problems got the better of me. Yesterday all those emotions came together, and I couldn’t handle that. I felt ashamed on stage in front of my family, my friends and the Barney Army. I felt I let everyone down and that pain was very hard to deal with. In the heat of the moment I only wanted to never feel that again, but I realize that I should not speak out like that when I feel such raw emotion.”

We now return you to Toeing the Oche…

The current King of the Oche, Michael van Gerwen, started his march through the European Tour with a win in Leverkusen last week. The £140,000 event added £25,000 to the Marvelous One’s ever expanding bank account.  En route to his 8-6 “nail bitter” over Rob Cross he had an unique 9-darter in his semi 7-5 win over Mensur Suljović.  The leg started with the usual T80 which was followed with a T74 leaving 147.  Then, the fun began as van Gerwen went treble 19, red bull and double tops, proving yet again there is more than one way to skin a cat or toss a 9-darter.

While calm, cool and collected the ODC paid his yearly visit to the doctor.  As the age advances so do the question…

“Do you have anxieties?”

“Well, no, but I do get PO’d.”

“That’s anxieties.”

“Who knew?”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR253 An all-encompassing International Darts Hall of Fame… and the DRA is whack-a-doodle!

Monday, March 18, 2019
Column HR253
An all-encompassing Darts Hall of Fame… and the DRA is whack-a-doodle!

The Old Dart Coach was recently bemoaning the absence of an all-encompassing Darts Hall of Fame – a place of recognition for all the great darters, not merely those in the separate PDC or USA Halls. (Just to be clear, the ODC has been known to bemoan things daily, forgetting most instantly – although though that’s not true with grudges.  They, like diamonds, last forever.)

Tooling around, he heard on the radio, “As we get older there are times when our memory is not as good as it used to be. Just one pill a day with help alleviate congenital mature memory loss. He sped home and ran lickety-split to the computer for his free 30-day sample…

“Whoops, he thought, “What pill?”

Not to be forgotten are the first members of the ODC’s International Darts Hall of Fame. Any Hall worth its salt must start with Mr. John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, Bob Anderson, Phil Taylor, Dave Whitcombe and Barry Twomlow from the Motha Country.

From the USA?  Ray Fischer, Jerry Umberger, Rick Ney, David Miller, Dave Kelly, Danny Valleto, Danny Pucillo, John Kramer, Darin “Big Daddy” Young and Larry “The Eagle” Butler.

From Canada? John Part, Tony Holyoake, Bob Sinnaeve, Albert Antsy and Avatar Gill.

Nicky Virachkul (USA via Thailand), Paul Lim (the world), Mr. Stefan Lord (Sweden), Raymond van Barneveld (Netherlands) and Terry O’Dea and Russell Stewart from Australia round out the first class of “declared” males.

The ladies are represented by Maureen “The Queen of Darts” Flowers, Dr. Linda ‘WB” Batten, “The Grand Dame” Ms. Lil Coombs, Mandy Solomons, Sonja Ralphs, “The Witch “Judy Campbell, “Queen” Deta Hedman and Trina Gulliver from England.  From the USA, Helen Scherbaum, Sandy Reitan-Green, Kathy Maloney, Kathy Karpowich and Stacy Bromberg join the class. Internationally, add in Vicky Pruim (Belgium/Sweden), Yoko Koyama (Japan) and Lillian Bird (New Zealand).

Oh, by the way. The ODC’s in the hall. It’s his Hall.

Darts has gained major sport status.  With that popularity comes a responsibility to govern responsibly as the spotlight of social (and especially unsocial) media shines on it.  Decisions made in governing can’t be made behind closed doors.  Alas, the bad old days of dart dictatorships may not be as far as they appear in the rearview mirror. As drivers know when checking cars in the side rear view mirror, “Objects may be much closer than they appear.”

Take recent decisions by the Darts Regulation Authority (DRA). The DRA, a five-member board, has the responsibility of ensuring “good governance and integrity within the sport of darts.” Some decisions appear to very stupid and silly which in darts, for years, has been exceptionally common.

The rulings run from Michael van Gerwen being fined £750 for smoking in the venue (Off with his head!) to Gary Anderson being levied £1,000 for “inappropriate behavior outside the venue” (A dastardly deed to be sure!) to Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis who drew a £3,000 fine and suspended sentence for being Adrian Lewis.

This year’s action also found Gerwyn Price being fined £21,500 plus a three-month suspension for “gamesmanship” and an “inappropriate post on social media.”  Taking gamesmanship out of darts is like taking “sledging” out of cricket or “chin music” out of baseball.

Then there was a genuine head scratcher. Mickey Mansell was fined £500 for “not playing to the best of his ability.”  Before you emote a “WTF” (Well That’s Fine) take a deep breath.

This doesn’t mean that when on the first day of the Ladbrokes UK Open when #1 Michael van Gerwen went out to #19 Mervyn King (10-6) or when #4 Gary Anderson crashed out to #22 Steve Beaten that they’ll be under investigation for “not playing to the best of his ability.”  Nay, nay.

TV presenter Wayne Mardle was highly critical of the DRA’s decision, in part saying if Mansell was fined £500 for “not playing to the best of his abilities” then “fine me a million.” In the same interview Mardle mentioned two Australian players fined $750 (Australian) or $5631.52 by the DRA for “fabricating the results of a group match in a tournament.”

The DRA wording of the Mansell decision is “ambiguous, cryptic, murky, indecipherable and incalculable” – words probably not used by Mardle.  Mardle might say, “The DRA’s Berlin Wall is like a wooly hat and scarf giving the sport a zig and zag. The decision may be influenced by Scotch Mist where Mansell is treated like bacon sarnie at a Kensington Palace afternoon tea.”

The Aussie’s behavior, fixing a match, jeopardizes the foundation of the PDC’s financial support.  Without Ladbrokes, Unibet, BetVictor, Bwin, William Hill, Betfred and Betway the PDC darters would be playing for considerably reduced purses, no TV and at £100 exhibitions.  Betting’s the fuel that powers the PDC engine.  Even hinting at a match irregularity is like tossing sand in a Formula 1 engine.

Mansell issued a statement accepting the results of the DRA ruling. Mardle asked, “Where was the Dart Players Association which is supposed to represent the players?” The answer? They’re a myth. The PDC and TV have the final say. The Players Association was given the message to “dummy up.” Knowing which side their bread was buttered on – they did.

The UK Open was a graveyard for big-name darters.  This year, youngster Nathan Aspinall merged triumphant with an easy 11-5 win over Rob Cross.  Aspinall dotted the “i” on his win with a sensational 170-check in the winning leg.  Aspinall made his first splash when he reached the semifinals of the PDC World Championships.

The Premier League has provided many surprises this year.  The players inserted on a weekly basis (replacing Gary Anderson) have proven successful as each has performed credibly. The player insertion idea came from Sky Sports and the PDC was not initially keen. Now? It works, which will prompt the PDC to include “new players” on a weekly basis in years to come.

A surprise was the resurgence James Wade briefly atop the Premier League standings. However, in week 6, Wade would get drilled 3-7 by Mensur Suljovic and drop to third position. Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross now share the lead with records of 4-1-1. It’s no surprise to many that Raymond van Barneveld has nary a win. The ODC remembers he predicted both these events.  Well, he thinks he did.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR251 “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki (nearly) shocks Paul Lim!

Thursday, January 31, 2019
Column HR251
“Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki (nearly) shocks Paul Lim!

The Old Dart Coach got the shock of his life when last week’s column produced two responses, neither of which started with “You suck.”

What was even more amazing was that it appeared both people not only read the column but understood what was contained therein. Irish Tom was first. “Your comments about cricket… so you are saying that the cricket game of darts is a Mickey Mouse game?”  In response the ODC says, “Yea, verily I say unto you.”  Irish Tom nailed that puppy.

Irish Tom further explained that during a trip to Florida some years ago, “…it was not too difficult to pick up cricket. I managed to win quite a few dollars which went to help pay for my trip. I liked playing because of the novelty.”  He could have mentioned the amount money he skimmed from Floridians which increased his fondness for the game.

Tom passed on some other names for cricket including Mickey Mouse, Horse and Carriage, Coach and Horses, Faldo, Beds and Bulls and the ODC’s favorite, Pointy Throwies.  Cricket was and is a novelty that has run its course.  The ODC would respectfully remind readers that eating Tide laundry soap pods, the Hula Hoop and swallowing gold fish were also novelties that disappeared.  Hopefully Pointy Throwies will be next.

“IDI” didn’t mince a lot of words in his response.  A man of few words, he merely sent “:).”  The ODC was bumfuddled as to what in the name of golly gosh darn “:)” meant.  He inquired and found out “it’s a lazy bastard’s way of saying ‘I like it.’”  Winner, winner chicken diner.

Some may remember the brouhaha that arose during the finals match of the Grand Slam of Darts between Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price. For his action Price was sent to the “sin bin” by the Darts Regulation Authority, fined £21,500 and suspended until July 11th. Funny but the suspension doesn’t include the Premier League. “The Committee found that Mr. Price had brought the sport into disrepute by his actions and that they amounted to gamesmanship in his matches with Mr. Whitlock and Mr. Anderson.”

To quote Captain Louis Renault (played by Clade Rains) in the greatest movie ever made, Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find out gamesmanship is going on!” Or as the late Irene Maude Reed would react, “My God, the bridge!”

This surely is the end of the darting scene as we know it.  Everyone knows sport is built on gamesmanship.  A baseball pitcher throws a “high hard one” under a batter’s chin. Gamesmanship.  A golfer scratches himself during an opponent’s backswing. Gamesmanship.

Remember “Fartgate?” Was it not the ultimate gamesmanship when Gary Anderson had a gas attack?

Damn straight, Bucky!

Except it was later determined that Gary Anderson was falsely accused, although no one has officially come forward to take credit for the odorous deed.  The incident occurred in Anderson’s match with Dutchman Wesley Harms. A “rotten egg” smell suddenly permeated the stage.  Harms whined, which is what losing Dutchman do.  The BBC reported that, “deep-voiced caller Russ Bray also shared the stage with the players.” Bray denied he was the culprit but, suspiciously perhaps, you’ll see him smiling at times – which to some is a tel.

Barry Hearn had the last word, as he always does. “I guess people wonder if blowing off might constitute advanced gamesmanship. Then again, Russ was just about within farting distance,” said Hearn.

The DRA’s release would have been more honest if it just read, “Price acted like a wanker.”

Had Price acted similarly 15 years ago someone would have taken his classic Greek Atleta di Fano (aka Victorious Youth) body and rearranged it to resemble the Greek statue of Aphrodite, who most know as Venus de Milo.

The PDC Asian Tour kicked off recently in Seoul, South Korea, with a resounding bang. It’s not difficult to hear the whining cries from North America, “Why doesn’t the PDC have a North American Tour?” Easy. The first Asian Tour had 174 entries including the Choi’s, Jung’s, Kim’s, Lee’s, Park’s and Lim’s which, alone, totaled 51 – probably more than any North American Tour event would attract.

The star of the first stop on the PDC Asian Tour was the legendary Paul Lim who was also described as an “’evergreen’ darting legend.”  Lim, who just turned 65, had a Lawrence Welk weekend.  Lawrence Welk weekend? Yes, he got a “1 anna 2.”  On Day One, Lim lost to Hong Kong’s Royden Lam, perhaps better known for his machine darts exploits.  Lim lost despite averaging 105.30.

On Day Two, he fared much better taking the final with a convincing 5-2 triumph over Hong Kong’s Kai-Fan Leung. During his second day run Lim would lose only 9 legs in 7 matches.  Four of those lost legs came against the latest darts superstar, “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki in the quarter finals.  Ms. Suzuki did “wheelies” while winning the Women’s World Championship at Lakeside.

Lim built a 1-nil lead in the match thanks to a 142-check. Ms. Suzuki evaporated Lim’s lead taking her own 4-3 lead in the race to 5 with a 12-darter.  Lim responded with a 12-darter of his own. In the decider Suzuki had the first shot at a double.  Lim describes what happened next.  “I have got to thank my lucky star. It went to the final leg with her going first. She had 56 left to take me out but missed by the wire on tops and 10s.” Lim would take out 68 for the win.  He pocketed $4,200 for his Lawrence Welk weekend.

Possibly, Suzuki provided a spark for England’s women darters – as 8 showed up for the PDC Qualifying School. Showed up, played well and proved competitive. None would qualify but one, Lisa Ashton, did better than Lakeside semifinalist Jim Williams while garnering more total points than the Lakeside finalist Scott Waites. Way to go Ms. Ashton.

Lakeside champion Glen Durrant got his card due to overall points. One source pointed out that the average age of Q School participants dropped from 41.1 years to 34.6. Watch out you guys on the PDC Tour.  Youth must be served.

Stay thirsty my friends.