Author Archives: Howie Reed

Column #HR290 Whoops – the ODC did it again!

Thursday, October 15, 2020
Column HR290
Whoops – the ODC did it again!

Like many humans and despite evidence to the contrary, the aging Old Dart Coach tries to multi-task.  That usually results in disaster.

When he appears in print, he’s often held accountable with malice aforethought.  Many recent emails suggest that the ODC’s fireplace is missing a few bricks and his chandelier “operating” with burned out light bulbs.

The Gentleman Darter, Chris “The Great” White, won the Dart Players of Los Angeles title not the CDC Cup as reported in this space.  Accordingly, the ODC will be fined one month’s pay by his Simon Legree-type editor/publisher aka “The Almighty in Florida.”  Unlike Judge Judy, he’s firm but only fair by accident.

Another USA darter has emerged to be designated as a “gentleman” by the ODC…

Tip a pint or more in honor of one Darin “Big Daddy” Young.  He’s been a fixture at all nine editions of the previous PDC World Cup representing the USA.  He was scheduled to make it 10 this year when players toe the oche November 6-8 at the Premstättner Halle in Graz/Premstätten in Austria.

Darin won’t be there.  He posted the following on Facebook…

I have recently been diagnosed with vertigo.  It’s not a severe case but it makes playing darts quite the experience.  After careful consideration I will not be attending the PDC World Cup in next month.  It was the hardest decision of my dart career, but it wouldn’t be fair to hold out and hope it clears up before then.  I’m hoping my doctor gets my head right soon.  I want to wish my replacement and Chuck Puleo the best of luck!  Go USA!!

Good on ya, Darin.

Meanwhile, there’s a virtual World Darts Federation International Cup going forward from October 4 to November 8.  Forty-seven nations will play in groups, each represented by two men and two women.  Groups will play a full round-robin with four men and four women from each group joining a 32-person knockout round.

Only Canada’s Diane Gobeil has played all nine of her matches with a record of 8-1 – her only loss being to America’s Robin Curry, 2-3.  The 8-1 record assurers Gobeil a spot in the round of 32 with the possibility of #1 seed.  America’s Robin Curry is 5-0 and teammate Dani Warmack stands at 2-1.  Canadian Trish Grzesik struggles at 1-3.

To the surprise of no one England’s Fallon Sherrock is sailing at 5-1.  Her teammate Lorraine Winstanley is 3-0.

The men’s scores?  This is a little slow in getting started.  Still, DartsConnect deserves a pat on the back for this endeavor.  It would however be a great help to lazy writers if each player were identified by nation.

Once upon a time PDC darters were playing 501, best of 11.  Then, up jumps the Grand Prix with a double start and finish, best of 5 sets.  For those who may inquire, there are no other tournaments with straight start and finish.

“Oh, but there were.”

While watching, the ODC heard the chick commentator speak of how unusual the double start is (practiced only in Northern England).   A respectful FYI to the fair damsel – double-double was very popular in the USA before USA darters became Englishfied.  The term “respectful “was used to make up for the ODC calling her a “chick.”  Bad ODC.  A true misogynist pig.

In the day, the two most prestigious tournaments were double starts.  They were the North American and News of the World.

There are those out there who disparage double-double as “not real darts,” promulgating that only straight in 501, best of 5 or 7, or 1,001, best of 7 are the real deal.  That argument is 100% bologna.  Each requires different acquired skills.   Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters in 9.58.  Would anyone with any sense say, “Well, he’s not that good unless he can break a world record at 1,500 meters”?  NO.

The final of the Grand Prix was for Gerwyn Price a pot of gold worth £110,000 (and back-to-back TV titles).  Price also won the World Series of Darts in September.  In the end Price would prevail 5-2 in the Grand Prix (3-0, 3-2, 1-3, 3-0, 3-2, 2-3 and 3-2).

Price jumped to a 4-1 lead in the final.  The debutante Dutchman, Dirk van Duijvenbode, could have folded his tent then and there in his quest for his first major TV title and just have headed back to the Netherlands with the £50,000 runner up sum – an amount that would buy a lot of adult brownies at a neighborhood “coffee shop.”

But no.  van Duijvenbode fought back to get it to 4-2 and then built a 2 leg to nil lead in the 7th set – before Price woke up to win 3 legs on the trot for the title.  In a touch of a “how you like this?” Price closed the deal with a 102-check. Thank you.

When the ODC used to visit his second home in Thailand, each Friday morning he would do three things.  He’d grab the Bangkok Post, get a cup or three of coffee (always good after a Pattaya Thursday dart Night at I Rovers) and light up a cigar.  With that done, he’d read “The Night Owl” column by Bernard Trink in the morning newspaper.

Bernard Trink passed away last week…

Trink covered the night scene (aka “Naughty Boy Scene”) in Bangkok and Pattaya.  The ODC and Trink agreed that one of the greatest songs ever recorded was Dinah Washington’s What a Difference a Day Makes (which segues perfectly into the 2020 BoyleSports World Grand Prix that recently concluded).

No player at the Grand Prix (the ODC’s father would always pronounce the “X” as a “CK”) typifies What a Difference a Day Makes more than Simon Whitlock.  (Whitlock was a late replacement for Adrian “Big Baby’ Lewis who caught the Chinese Virus.)

In the quarter finals, Whitlock took out defending champion Michael van Gerwen 3 sets to nil.  He did this by scores of 3-1, 3-0 and 3-1 – impressively dropping only 2 of 11 legs.  And his starting and finishing were brilliant – he was 11 from 16 starting and 9 from 17 in finishing.

Sing on Dinah Washington!

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR289 Huston, Gershwin, Peggy Lee – and DARTS?

Thursday, October 1, 2020
Column HR289
Huston, Gershwin, Peggy Lee – and DARTS?

In 1938, the year of the Old Dart Coach’s birth, actor Walter Huston took to the stage in New York to sing the “September Song” in the musical Knickerbocker Holiday.  He sang:

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December 

But the days grow short when you reach September 

When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame 

One hasn’t got time for the waiting game. 

It’s possible, but unlikely, that at PDC headquarters someone broke out in song when the Unibet Premier League finally got to the final. You know the players did. They could have sung in the “key of ugly” these more appropriate opening lines:

Oh, it’s a long, long while from February to October 

But the days grow long when you’re mostly sober 

As the autumn days and early the sun does go 

The final is set and beer will flow. 

This year’s Premier League (lighten up Unibet – the ODC mentioned you once, which is more than you mentioned him) kicked off on February 6 and pulled down the curtain when regular League ended on September 5.

One surprise was Michael van Gerwen – he missed out on the finals (to be played on Thursday October 22) for the first time in his storied career.

One not very articulate Potato Head who writes about darts claims that van Gerwen is developing a case of dartitis. For those not familiar with the term it’s a disease that effects a player when they are faced with crucial darts, usually a double.  In common terms their arm will start shaking like a bed in a short time hotel in Thailand.

The other surprise was that Glen Durrant started the year’s play with a 7-3 win over Michael Smith. On the same night, another rookie. Nathan Aspinall. handed John Henderson a loss by the same margin.

After the first night, Durrant and Aspinall shared the top spot in the league. Durrant would end up top of the table while Aspinall held on for third place.  The other two qualifiers, not unexpectedly, were Peter Wright and Gary Anderson.

On the last night, Aspinall whipped Durrant 8-2 which considering that Durrant already had the top spot was a preview of nothing.

By finishing top of the table Durrant received a bonus of £25,000. With £250,000 available in the final it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the four players. The final four players were assured of at least £80,000 just for being there.

The Potato Head claims that the Premier League is “nothing but (a) paid exhibition.”

“Nice Work If You Can Get It” – which just happens to be a song from the 1930s written by George and his wife Ira Gershwin.

The World Darts Federation, much maligned in this space, deserves a bundle of kudos for their putting together the initial International WDF Virtual Cup.  With all international WDF events cancelled this new competition was born of a virgin swaddling clothes not included.

Major kudos (1 kudo equals 1 – 240 thousandths of a Bitcoin which is equal to the Indian blood of Massachusetts Senator Liz Warren) also go to USA-based DartsConnect.  They are supplying the electronic equipment needed to conduct the event.

Each entering nation can receive “free of charge” the electronic equipment.  At press time there are 43 countries entered with each team consisting of two men and two women.  The competition will run from October 4 to November 8.  Next year’s World Cup is still on the schedule for next September in Denmark.

Two North American countries will be in competition.  The American Darts Organization announced its squad on their website.  With the 2020 Americas Cup being cancelled, the US will be represented by the four players who were so cruelly robbed of a trip to Jamaica: Robin Curry, Dani Warmack, Joe Huffman, and Danny Baggish.  Kind of a “Jamaica Farwell” pronouncement from the song made popular by Harry Belafonte in 1957.  The opening line is:  Down the way where the nights are gay. 

The ODC has no comment.

From Canada will come Diane Gobeil, Trish Grzesik, Steve Russell and Robbie Mills.

The “Motha Country” put forward Martin Adams, Paul Hogan, Fallon Sherrock and Lorraine Winstanley.

Let’s be honest, the 2-2 format for men and women is about right.  During the World Cup, which requires four of each, asking some country to have four world class men or women is a bit much.  NO doubt that figure was raised from two to four in the name of PC: politically corrupt.

The PDC recently concluded its German Darts Championship. The event, held live before fans, saw “Dancin’” Devon Peterson lift the trophy along with a nice payday of £25,000.  Peterson was coming off a loss in a European Tour event in which he missed four match darts. This time he left space for a mistake as he closed out Jonny Clayton 8-3.

In the USA, the Championship Darts Circuit crowned Chris “The Great” White won the CDC trophy.  White, who moved from Canada to California (truly a lateral move), has more CDC event wins than anyone else in the premier darting series. White is great darter but more importantly he is a great person and a credit to the sport of darts. He’s the modern-day Jerry Umberger.

The ODC, seeing all the virtual engagement in the world today, decided he might try some “virtual” sex.  As he typed in the words “virtual sex” both his hands started to ache.

Regular readers might be asking, Is that all there is?  Yes. Remember Ms. Peggy Lee singing “Is That All There Is?” in 1969? It was the record of the year.

Is that all there is, is that all there is 

If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing 

Let’s break out the booze and have a ball 

If that’s all there is.

Not sure about the dancing but…

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR288 Strange Year Par Uno

Monday, September 14, 2020
Column HR288
Strange Year Par Uno

Some relish calling the Old Dart Coach the ultimate Captain Oblivious.  He obliges.

It’s been an unusual year for the Professional Darts Corporation and darts in general in oh so many ways – but the demise of the British Darts Organization (BDO) must top the list of “who would have thunk it?”

The BDO’s fall from grace marked the passing of an era resulting from the failure to innovate in an ever-changing marketplace along with a failure to make sound business decisions bereft of knowledge or ego.  To be honest there were some clues as joiners were cutting mahogany 84 inches long and 28 inches wide as the year 2019 closed.

It was a cold January 7 in 1973 (all January 7s are cold in England) when a visionary, the late Olly Croft, brought together different factions to form the BDO.  The BDO would grow to include 66 UK counties ruling not only the UK but the entire world of darts.  Depending on who writes the history, the BDO was operated either as a “benevolent dictatorship” or simply a run of the mill dictatorship.   A democracy? Only for those who believe in Unicorns, the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

In 1976, the BDO and Mr. Croft stitched the quilt that would cover international darts like a blanket with the formation of the World Darts Federation (WDF).  The BDO with puppets placed on the WDF board, ran the WDF with an iron fist.  Whoa behold to anyone that fell in disfavor (as this author can attest).

Case in point is the dartboard company that was the “official” WDF board.  They paid the WDF pittance with much more going to the BDO.  A competitor asked for a hearing in front of the WDF board.  It took 3 years.  The hearing lasted 5 minutes.  Bye-bye competition and bye-bye the representative from Thailand who questioned the WDF.  He was voted off the WDF Island.

In North America, the National Darts Federation of Canada (1977) and the American Darts Organization (1975) can trace their formations and framework to the BDO.  In the USA it was Tom Fleetwood and Ed McDevitt who were the guiding force.

The BDO had two major international tournaments (the World Masters and the Embassy World Professional), the county competitions, sponsors, many local tournaments, television and the stars.  It was clearly a win-win situation.  One of the perils of any “startup,” as the BDO was, is that getting started (usually the easy part) ranks a distant second to remaining viable – which requires adjusting to a changing marketplace with innovation and sound business decisions.  Much more difficult.

One of the BDO’s strong points was that they controlled all “professional players.” In January of ’92, 16 professional players along with three managers formed the World Darts Council (WDC) which later morphed into the PDC.  Their plan was not to break the BDO but to work with it.

Following meetings, it became apparent that the BDO had no intention of working with the WDC.  “In 1993, the BDO banned all who had joined the WDC from playing in county darts, Super League, all BDO tournaments and internationals.  That ban could only be lifted if those individuals pledged their loyalty to the BDO and returned.”  The WDC filed a lawsuit (restraint of trade) which brought forth the Tomlin Order which meant players could play wherever they wanted.

The BDO was down to one TV event (the Embassy) as the number of TV outlets in the UK expanded.  The WDC became the PDC but struggled early on.  Then Barry Hearn came on board, completely changing the game. Hearn reportedly made an offer to buy the BDO, planning to use it as a feeder system for the PDC.  The offer was rejected out of hand.  That doomed the BDO.  They were left without TV and, most importantly, money.

In August of 2011, the founder of the BDO, Olly Croft, was ousted from his control of the BDO.

What followed was horrible management along with bad decisions and an eroding fan base.  The one sponsor that was either ignored or rebuffed by the BDO were betting interests.  Currently, of the 12 PDC events 9 carry a betting sponsor.

No indication of BDO’s ineptitude is more apparent than the post by CEO Des Jacklin in early September (edited for space):

There has been much speculation of late regarding the future of the BDO.  This has only been enhanced by the promotion of a rival organization set up to try and take away the heritage of the BDO, we cannot allow this to continue.   

The BDO are pleased to announce the first list of County teams that will be remaining with the BDO for the 2021/22 season. 

Several other counties have had their vote and we are awaiting official confirmation that will be published in the following days. I can also confirm that I have been contacted by several County teams that have already had their vote and chosen to play in a rival organization but have since had a change of heart due to the BDO being a more viable option and indicated that they will not be playing in the rival organization and will be registering with the BDO for the forthcoming season. 

Just days later, the BDO became history.

The Queen, Deta Headman, posted the following about the end of the BDO.  It captures well the feelings of many darters.

Sad day for the sport of darts with the demise of the BDO, played my first game in the system back in the 1980s have had some unbelievable highs and some very lows, but have had some great memories and met fantastic people. But now we move on with the UKDA, be nice if all the egos and feuds were left behind us and get back to playing and enjoying darts, UKDA and Mad darts working alongside the 3 home nations and the WDF could restore the reputation of our side of darts. Good luck to all players and remember the officials deserve our respect, here’s to a bright future for County darts, international teams and world ranked events. BDO gone but not forgotten.  

The Queen nails it. The BDO will never be forgotten. But more important, hopefully their mistakes will be noted, remembered and guide other organizations to not follow their path.

It’s a steep slope to reject the feeling of power while doing what’s right and profitable to all, avoiding personal enhancement.

Captain Oblivious strikes again.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR287 STOP IT!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Column HR287
STOP IT!

The Old Dart Coach likes to reminisce about them “Golden Days of Darts” but when he does many readers echo his pal, Nurse Fluff, and say “STOP IT!”

Regardless, thanks to Facebook postings by Bill Specht fond memories of that era are being brought back and shared with new players. He’s doing for the USA what Roger Nickson does for England. Thanks Bill.

Guess who the leading US money earners were in 1987.  The men’s list was topped by Paul Lim who was closely followed by “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter.  Not bad for the Brit as he competed in the USA for less than 6 months.

One of Rocket’s biggest wins was against the ODC in the New Orleans Open.  The Coach had him down 1-nil and was on a double when the ODC remembered that the third leg of the Triple Crown of racing was only an hour away.  As he liked to bet and N’Awlins had off track betting, he missed a double for the win then “allowed” Baxter to throw a 15-dart game for the win. Of course, it was first round.

What a humanitarian the ODC is.

Baxter is one also as he lost the final to his traveling partner so he could qualify for the Lucky Lights Challenge of Champions. They were also splitting money.

In 1987, the lady’s top four were Kathy Karpowich, Sandy Reitan, Kathy Maloney and Connie Sroka.  All are in the darting Hall of Fame as they should be.  Quality top to bottom.  Pun intended.

The PDC just announced a four-event Women’s Series for October.  The ODC had surmised this would be the case and predicted it some months ago.  The event will be open to all women (age 16-plus) and run October 17-18 with two events per day.  It’s not clear if “those who feel like a woman” will be allowed to enter.  The total prize money is £20,000 or £5,000 per event.

“Women’s darts at the top level has never enjoyed as high a profile and this is an important development,” said PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter.  A grain of salt and a shot of Tequila should be taken with that announcement.  Were it not for the cancelation of the International World Series of Darts (where Fallon Sherlock would have been great for women’s darts) Mr. Porter’s statement would be valid.

There is an “againer” out there (i.e. “Against Everything”) that takes the PDC task for staging the event.  The “Retarded Irish Potato Moron” (with apologies  to all that fit that description) writes, …not because these hypocrite bitches are great dart players who can perform at the standard the men can, because they cannot, it’s being done for the simple reason of the political correctness, and also the PDC whoring itself out for publicity and media attention in the hope that they can recreate what happened last year when Fall-in SheerLuck (Fallon Sherrock)  had a lucky run and garnered  media publicity.

Some valid points?  Perhaps.  But that doesn’t discount what the PDC is doing.

Back in the day when the ODC was in advertising one of the company’s accounts was Kaiser Industries.  Kaiser used the moto “Find a Need and Fill It.”  That’s exactly what the PDC is doing.

With the demise of the British Dart Organization and its effect on the World Darts Federation women’s darts have been tossed to the wayside.  The World Masters and the BDO “Our” World Championships is headed for File 13.  A major competition was needed.  The PDC filled a need.

Some might question giving the two winners of the competition places in the World Championships.  The ODC must agree as those cherished spots are supposed to be awarded on merit.

Can a female compete head to head with male?  Sure.  Can they do that over the long haul?  No, but so what?  Women’s tennis and golf are just as entertaining as the men.

Women darts can be as entertaining and sometimes more so than your run of the mill men’s darts.  The truth is some male matches put more people to sleep than Melatonin.

The ODC now predicts that within 4 years the PDC will have a full-blown Women’s Tour.  The success or failure of the event will fall squarely on the shoulders of women darters.  If they pony up the £25 for each event in large numbers, it will be a success.  If not, “goodbye” and please ladies: shut up.

STOP IT!

Some may forget that in 2010 the PDC held a Women’s World Championship with £30,000 up for the taking.  If memory works Unicorn Darts played a big part in staging the event.  Thirty-two ladies toed the oche with the finals played during the PDC Mid-summer Classic at Blackpool.

The winner was the late Stacy Bromberg from the USA.  Stacy defeated Anastasia Dobromyslova (4-3) and then Tricia Wright (6-5).  The average was a low 63.27.

Average is irrelevant.

Was it entertaining? YES.

Hopefully, this year’s event will draw (it should) the cream of the women’s crop from Europe.  It takes either a brave or foolish man, which qualifies the ODC twice, to predict how the event will go.  There’s also the saying/song that, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”  The ODC is no angel but here goes…

The winners of each event will be Fallon Sherrock (England), Mikuru Suzuki (Japan), Beau Greaves (England) and Anastasia Dobromyslova (Russian but living in England).  Left out are Lisa Ashton and “The Queen” Deta Headman both of England.

The winner will be Beau Greaves who will reach the ripe old age of 16 on January 4, 2020.

Graves’ 2016-2019 resume is enough for a career.  She was a winner in Girl’s events – the 2017-2018 Girl’s World Masters and 2019 Girl’s WDF World Cup Singles.  Graves jumped into Women’s events in 2019 winning the Women’s England, Welsh and England National Championship.  She started the year 2020 with a win in the Scottish Open.  In the 2019 England Women’s Open Graves beat Deta Headman (4-1), Mikuru Suzuki (4-1), Aileen de Graaf (4-3) and Fallon Sherrock (5-4).

Beau Graves is the REAL DEAL.

Recently, a former world champion proved that expertise on the oche has nothing to do with knowledge, brains or learning -which puts dart players with other athletes.  He whined about nasty comments on Twitter.  The aforementioned “Retarded Irish Potato Moron” commented that he’s “fast becoming a full-blown bitch these days.”

What did the former world champion post? People put horrible things on Twitter and don’t think before they write them.  Twitter needs to be more regulated.

Guess this person never heard of “freedom of speech.”  He’d fit right in with the USA moron WOKEs of today.  STOP IT!

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR286 World Matchplay wrap-up – and more BLM!

Wednesday, July 27, 2020
Column HR286
World Matchplay wrap-up – and more BLM!

The Old Dart Coach fell off the soapbox last week.  Battered and bruised he’s rejoining the fray…

Of course, darts has always required skill, predominantly hand-eye coordination, and stamina – when prodigious amounts of “aiming fluid” and “group tighter” are involved.

But nowadays in many quarters not as much skill is needed (certainly in the machine darts game) – the boards are friendlier; the doubles and triples are larger and the bullseye is the size of an elephant’s rear.  Bristle boards have a thinner spider and no longer have staples.  Bounce outs are virtually nil.

World Matchplay Quarters

By quarter finals time most of the £700,000 Betfred World Matchplay tournament seeds had bid adieu to the Marshall Arena.  Six of the top eight had gone down “like the girl at Garfield’s in Angeles City, Philippines.”  Only Michael Smith (#5) and Gary Anderson (#8) remained.

The quarter finals meant the difference between £50,000 and £25,000 for the winner.  Ratajski, Whitlock, “Big Baby” Lewis, Durrant, van den Bergh and van der Voort all had slim pickens lately.

The methodical Krzysztof Ratajski from Poland dug himself a hole and was unable to take advantage of Michael Smith as Smith faltered, as he has want to do in crucial situations.  It was a contrast of styles.  Smith’s delivery is smooth as pouring hot maple syrup.  Ratajski’s is more akin to cold maple syrup.  With the same averages, Ratajski’s 39.39% check rate just couldn’t get the job done.  Smith got his head back into the game for the 16-13 win and a place in the finals.

Simon Whitlock was still basking in the spotlight after his hit job on Michael van Gerwen.  He got a cold dash of reality losing to Gary Anderson 16-12.  Anderson led all the way.  Whitlock got the “walk arounds” which Anderson took advantage of.  Off the oche Whitlock made news.  His knurled points tore up the board like puppies do to furniture when Mom and Dad are out of the house without permission.

Whitlock took to social media (which is often very unsociable).  “Getting bored about my points damaging boards.  The problem is the boards are too inconsistent – ‘hard/soft/hard’.  Give me decent boards and I’ll adopt my points to suit.”

The ODC must agree with Wayne Mardle.  “No board would survive those barbed battering rams.”  Note to Simone Whitlock: You arrogant Aussie jackass.  NODOR is a sponsor and you bad mouth them to feed your surely deflated ego.  Grow up.

Adrian Lewis showed up for his game sporting the grunge-ola look.  In early rounds it looked like maybe the two-time world champion might emerge from hibernation.  But Dimitri van den Bergh quickly built a 10-3 advantage.  After two breaks and maybe a good chat with himself, Lewis would grind the match to 12-8 before they split the next 8 giving van den Bergh the 16-12 win.

After Glenn Durrant beat Vincent van der Voort 18-16 (must win by 2 legs) Durrant said, “The better players lost tonight.  I was a beaten man.  I don’t know how I won.”  No truer words were ever spoken.  The comeback from 9-5 down was aided by some of the best choking seen on TV since the rerun of the Boston Strangler.  Van der Voort lost his bottle and acted like a horse’s ass.

The Dutchman began to unravel when Durrant pulled 3 darts out of the board minus one of the points.  Caller/referee Kirk Bevin called for a change of boards (as he should have).

Then came the 22nd leg…

The unraveled Dutchman needed d18.  His first dart was high and his second inside, leaving 9.  In a fit of childish behavior, he tossed his third dart under-handed.

Referee Bevin called it a “no throw” (as he should have) causing van der Voort to reach the boiling point. He was still alive at 15-15 when his collapse was complete.

Walking off stage he pointed at Bevin as if he didn’t play like a wally.  One comment found on the internet said of the Dutch: “They even make the French appear almost normal.”

Semi-finals

The bookies called the Gary Anderson vs. Michael Smith semi match dead even.  It looked that way as Anderson led by 5 legs (8-3 and 14-9) on the way to 17.

In the race to 17 (must win by 2) Anderson held for 3-2 lead at the first break.  When Anderson was up 8-4, he missed checks of 161, 126 and tops which turned a possible 11-4 lead into 8-7.  Smith drew level at 9 and then at 14, 15 and 16.  Anderson then got on track with 2 on the trot for an 18-16 win.  The pair played 34 legs in 1 hour and 10 minutes.  This sent Anderson to his second Matchplay finals.  His last took him OT to beat Mensur Suljovic 21-19.

In the 2nd semi Dimitri van den Bergh built a 9-5 lead before Glen Durrant grabbed 3 on the trot to narrow to 9-8.  When Durrant missed d18 to level the young Belgian added 3 to take the match to 12-8.  Never out, Durrant won 5 of the next 6 to draw even, then led 14-13.  Shared legs put Durrant in the driver’s seat at 15-14.  But making like Belgian bicycle great Eddie Merchx, van den Bergh sprinted out for the 17-15 win.

The final

Then on Sunday and for the first time since 2006 a player making his debut captured the Matchplay title.  Dimitri “the Dream Maker’” van den Bergh became two-time world champion Gary Anderson’s nightmare – sending him down to defeat 18-10.  The win secured the Phil Taylor trophy and a £150,000 bank account boost for the gentleman from Antwerp.

The first “pause for the cause” break had Van den Bergh ahead 3-2.  Anderson seemed uncomfortable being unable to find a triple.  In an unusable move Anderson changed darts – something that only Peter Wright does during a match.  It might have helped as they were 5-5 at the next break.

Leg’s 11-14 changed the course of the match.  First, Anderson pegged T30 for a 6-5 lead.  van den Burgh answered with a T70 to even it at 6.  They tied again at 7 in the 14th leg when the Belgium then took off.

He would get to 10-7, then win 8 of the next 11 for the victory.  Anderson, usually known for scoring, couldn’t and only once found a maximum.

Could this have been more than a replay of the 1990 Embassy World Championship when Phil Taylor unseated Eric Bristow for his first major win?  For Taylor, the rest is history.  Bristow would make the Embassy finals 4 of the next 5 years – but never win again.  Could it be a premonition?

Finally, the ODC was pleased to see the Sky Sports personalities wearing BLM pins.  It’s about time.  For far too long black labs have been relegated as poor relatives of chocolate and yellow labs.

Stay thirsty my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Column #HR285 Matchplay and Racism?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Column HR285
Matchplay and Racism?

All sports and those who write about them are part of a circus and “under the big top” today the not invisible “elephant in the ring” is racism.

The definition of racism (which the majority of people surely can’t recite) is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

Seems straight forward enough.

Today, there’s a demand that athletes speak out on social problems about which way too often they are uniquely unqualified.

Ask them about racism and you’ll get talk of “feelings.”  In the USA basketball players LeBron James (Lakers) and Steph Curry (Warriors) never miss an opportunity to denigrate America.  For instance, they give China a pass as players rake in millions of dollars from endorsements paid for by Chinese slave labor making their brands.

Unfortunately, NO sport is exempt from this kind of behavior.

The ODC was not surprised when he turned on the PDC Matchplay to find Devon “The African Warrior” Peterson in a short sleeve shirt and vest pontificating on racial healing.  On his chest was a pin declaring “Black Lives Matter.”

Peterson, it should be noted, is a decent dart player, a native of South Africa now living in England.  One doesn’t have to wonder why Sky Sports picked Peterson to be the spokesman for the PDC.  Sky needed darts to bend over and join the rest of “WOK” TV sports.

Of course, Peterson was selected because he’s a person of color – so it’s assumed he not only knows the subject but has answers to all racial problems real and imagined.

Did the PDC give even a moment’s thought (if they were consulted) that Peterson comes from South Africa which for eons has been synonymous with racism?

If Peterson had taken the time to read about BLM, he might have been surprised by their guiding principles…

BLM called for decarceration in the United States; reparations for slavery in the United States; an end to mass surveillance; investment in public education, not incarceration; and community control of the police: empowering residents in communities of color to hire and fire police officers and issue subpoenas, decide disciplinary consequences and exercise control over city funding of policy.

Nowhere in these principles is there anything about equality or living or working together to solve real problems – they merely represent someone’s concept of Utopia.  Read closely, the principles urge a return to a segregated (set apart from each other, isolated or divided) society that most have wanted to eliminate.

And we’ve done a damn good job of achieving that, not that there isn’t more work to do.

Here are some quotes from Peterson…

The difference between racism and a deadly tumor is that a tumor can be diagnosed and cut out.

He mentions the George Floyd death…

That’s a deadly tumor that has to be cut out.

Fair enough, the policeman has been arrested, been charged with murder and will probably spend the rest of his life in jail.  What else would Mr. Peterson want?

Peterson continued…

It’s a whole host of feelings that you have (he has).

Sky said the Peterson grew up under apartheid in South Africa.  That’s not entirely true.  Peterson’s 34 years of age and apartheid laws disappeared 29 years ago.  Mr. Peterson spouts nothing new, certainly nothing that others haven’t said time and again, typically lacking substance and supported by little more than their “feelings.”

There is nothing as foolish as a sports figure who gets out of his comfort zone to pontificate on matters of which they’re ignorant.  Ninety-nine percent of all sports stars know very little about the world around them. The same percentage holds true for the sports writers who cover them. They both spout “bumper strip” mentality thinking they sound smart. The arrogance of ignorance…

The Old Dart Coach has a couple of scruples which the general public never associates with dart players.

Foremost is to be truthful to those uninitiated to the dart players “club” – in which the members rank slightly above lawyers, used car salesmen and politicians. While unfair, it is what it is.

Scruples is defined as a moral or ethical consideration or standard that acts as a restraining force or inhibits certain actions.  As stated above, the ODC has them but rarely allows them to interfere with his life.

As honesty is the best policy, especially when there are no other options, the ODC admits that he’s stayed away from “virtual” darts much like he’s avoided real work for a lifetime. This condition notwithstanding, he was compelled for some unknown reason to turn on PDC-TV to check out the £700,000 World Matchplay held behind closed doors, sans fans, at Milton Keynes. The event would see 32 players in the race for the £150,000 first place check and the Phil Taylor Trophy.

The first-place check is a far cry from the one Larry “The American Bald Eagle” Butler cashed in 1994 when he won the first World Matchplay beating Dennis Priestly 16-12.  The prize was £10,000.

About that same year the ODC put on a tournament at the Sands Hotel Casino in Reno, Nevada.  It was the first time that any tournament in America had paid $10,000 for a first place in the singles event.  “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter won it and yawned while the owner of the casino counted out the cash.  He also got a Silver Trophy Buckle.  Bet he has nothing but memories left.

The ODC must congratulate the PDC for the injection of phony crowd noises that sound real during Matchplay.  Regardless of what happening on stage there’s a constant rumble of sound, including the eruption of cheers when a finishing double is scored.  In most PDC events this is a rarity, especially once the “singing fluid” has taken full effect.

The ODC suggested that maybe the PDC should add some singing of “Hey Baby” and “There’s Only One Phil Taylor.”  The suggestion was not rejected out of hand but did receive the following response: With the crowd noise, we’ve also had a request from Gary Anderson for some people booing him every time he’s on a finish.

Matchplay reigning champion Rob Cross got dusted by Gabriel “The German Giant” Clemens 10-8.  Peter Wright’s saw himself in a pickle against Jose de Sousa.  At 8-5 I was fed up – I took the glasses off because I was battling the glare. I couldn’t see properly.  He escaped 10-8.  While #2 seed Wright escaped, 3 of the seeded 8 didn’t – #3 Gerwyn Price, #4 Rob Cross and #6 Nathan Aspinall.

Round Two saw “All Universe” Michael van Gerwen unceremoniously ejected by Simon Whitlock 11-4.  In 15 previous meetings the “Marvelous One” was 15-0 against Whitlock.  Whitlock jumped off to a 5-0 start which had the fat lady licking her lips.  Never within 3 legs, van Gerwen missed 20 doubles (he hit 4 of 24).  His 16.7% finishing percentage was akin to that which a “C” player might achieve – and be proud of.

At the rate seeds are dropping it just goes to show that seeding is best left to farmers.

A trip to the circus every year is a must.  Loved the seals.  They could balance a ball on their nose, play the trumpet and put a ball through a hoop.

Bet basketballers James and Curry can’t balance a ball on their nose or play the trumpet.  Seals win.

So does the PDC.

Can’t say the same for Mr. Peterson and Sky TV.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR284 As the Darts World Turns…

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Column HR284
As the Darts World Turns…

The longest daily “soap serial” in the USA was The Guiding Light. The daily program ran for 72 years on radio and television. The Guiding Light is only topped for longevity in the USA by the Grand Ole Opry which started in 1929 and is still going.  A sister show to The Guiding Light (As the World Turns) ran for 54 years.

What in the name of all get out does this have to do with darts? Has the Old Dart Coach finally gone around the bend with any chance of redemption a longshot at best?

Probably, but wait…

The definition of a soap opera is a serial dealing with domestic situations characterized by melodrama and sentimentality.  “A crucial element that defines the soap opera is the open-ended serial nature of the narrative, with stories spanning several episodes.”

Those darters in the Motha Country may recognize the definition of a soap opera, especially the melodrama and sentimentally aspects, with the events surrounding the rise, stumble (and probably) fall of the British Darts Organization.

From world domination of the sport in the 70s, 80s and early 90s the BDO today is not only skinned but a mere cork in the ocean appearing to aimlessly bobble along. This decline saw the BDO lose control of the World Dart Federation which they had enjoyed for ruling for eons.

It does no good to look backward to fight past battles as hindsight is always 20/20. The past is gone, and any energy devoted to it is a waste of time except to make sure the same mistakes are not repeated. Kung Fu has affected all sports and with no tournaments, and dart leagues at a standstill, the sport of darts is naturally plagued by revenue decreases.

The BDO doesn’t have Covic-19 as a crutch to explain its apparent demise.

Reports on the BDO are like fleas on a dog. They are plentiful, hard to ignore. One gentleman associated for years with darts in the UK is Roger Nickson.  Nickson was the “Governor” of three highly successful darts pubs (Morning Star, Cricketers and Lewiston Arms) in the London area. He also managed the London Countryside and then served as the first General Secretary of the original Players Association.

Nickson calls ’em as he sees ’em with perfect vision. In short, “he tells it like it is.” The ODC leans on him for BDO information.

Nickson writes: Wow, what a month for darts. The BDO commercial arm “Enterprises” goes into liquidation with Des Jacklin (BDO Chairman) saying ‘None of this insolvency is what it seems.’ The former headquarters, Muswell Hill home of the Croft family, is sold and the final link with the original BDO is severed. Currently three separate bodies are competing for the support of inter-counties darts.  

The latter was a base that always seemed sturdy.  Today, Nickson moderates the new Facebook group “Darts from the Past.” Really good stuff.

With the formation of the World Professional Dart Players Association (1980) the handwriting was on the wall for the BDO.  In the USA, the introduction of electronic darts at about the same time was a warning shot across the bow of the American Darts Organization.  Both organizations had little or no opposition up to then so they became nonchalant (or arrogant) assuming “things would always be the same.” Both never learned how to act; they only knew how to re-act. In the competitive sport marketplace innovation and sponsorship rule and “those who snooze lose.”  The “leadership” of the BDO and ADO slept while their organizations burned.

Credit should be given to the PDC for keeping darts alive in this period of Covid-19 worldwide panic. Like boxing shows from Las Vegas held in a “bubble” the PDC held a 5-day event in Milton Keys in a “bubble” inside the Marshall Arena. No fans, just players. Each day offered a total of a £75,000 with £10,000 going to the winner.

Opening day saw the top two players in the world in the final as Michael van Gerwen faced Peter Wright. It was a new look for Wright as he was wearing glasses but in the end they didn’t help. van Gerwen broke on top to lead 5-2 only to see Wright go on a roll with a 116-check while van Gerwen missed to lead 7-5. van Gerwen’s 72 finish then followed with double 2 for a decider.  Wright’s T80 got him close at 64 when van Gerwen turned out the lights erasing 76 with tops.

The second day saw familiar names except for Ryan “Who?” Joyce who took home the winner’s check. To reach the final he took out former world crampon Gary Anderson 7-3. Joyce fell behind Dave Chisnall 6-2 and 7-3 in the race to eight. A person who writes on darts has called Dave Chisnall a “choker” – a handle that is completely unfair except this day against the little-known Ryan. While leading, Chisnall seemed to have trouble breathing. Mouth-to-mouth arrived too late for him as he missed 5 match darts losing 9-8. The win puts Joyce in the World Matchplay July 18-26 in the Marshall Arena “bubble.”

On day three “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen emerged on top. His first 4 games saw him lose only 7-legs. For those keen on averages he averaged 107 during his 7-4 win over Chris Dobey. To reach the final van Gerwen took the semifinal 6-4 over Canadian Jeff Smith, North America’s only entrant. Facing Portugal’s Jose de Souza in the final van Gerwen fell behind 2-0 which could well have been 3-nil except for a missed top on a 117-check.  When you come to “Kill the King” you’d better kill him. de Souza didn’t and lost 8-3.

The “real” James Wade has been absent or inconsistent at best. Wade emerged on the fourth day with a superb performance and his first 2020 win. He had 100-plus averages including a 6-0 Snyder of Michael Smith.  Wade’s semi was a walk in the park as he prevailed 7-4 over Ian “Diamond” White. There is a rumor that “Diamond” White is actually a cubic zirconia. Rob Cross strolled 7-2 over “Good Guy” Mensur Suljovic, including a 9-darter.

Wade and Cross split the first 4 legs when Wade caught fire, including 108 and 156 checks, on four consecutive legs for a 6-2 lead and an 8-2 win.

Day 5 went to World Champion Peter Wright who hardly broke a sweat with his semi win of 6-5 against Nathan Aspinall the only close call.

When Matchplay begins (July 18-26) defending champion Rob Cross has a good first round draw against a debuting German Gabriel Clemens. Michael van Gerwen gets Brenden Dolan as World Champion Peter Wright gets a red-hot Jose de Sousa.

The moral of this story?

If As the (Darts) World Turns you’re an organization with a Guiding Light that’s just a burned-out match, then your best bet is to run to find a menu…

…and order your last meal.

Stay thirsty my friends.