Column #462 Stefan Lord tried to KILL ME!
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Stefan Lord tried to KILL ME!
For more than half a century, from 1927 until 1990 (with a break during the war years and a brief reappearance in 1997) the News of the World Darts Championship was the granddaddy – the “tournament every darts player wanted to win.”
He won it in 1978. He won it again in 1980.
And then, for reasons unknown, on April 4, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand, he tried to kill me.
His name is Stefan Lord. He’s from Sweden – a country famous for meatballs.
We started around dinner time at what is billed “the most HUGE bar” in Pattaya – Tim’s Beer Bar (www.timbarpattaya.com) on 2nd Road, just a few blocks east of Pattaya Beach on the Gulf of Thailand.
Lord, the Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed, and I kicked off the evening with several beers at a table on the street in front of Tim’s before heading into the night. (I started sensibly with bottled water but when you’re out with Lord and the Coach and constantly called a pussy water doesn’t cut it for long – so I switched to Singha.)
Scantily clad dancers streamed past but of course we paid no attention. We’re darts players. Women are distractions, particularly young ones in itty-bitty shorts and skimpy tops who wink and say, “You hansome man.”
We had important business.
Lord and the ODC wanted to take me to a place called Legends (http://legendspoolpattaya.com) at 324/10, Pattaya Klang 5 – Lord’s home bar. The ODC maintained it had the best darts setup in all of Thailand. I doubted this – but having now seen it and having previously thrown darts from Chiang Rai in the north to Bangkok in the south and in border towns along Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia – I can now attest that Legends is indeed the finest in the Land of Smiles.
I don’t remember how we got to Legends…
We were greeted by owner or co-owner – or maybe he was just some bloke who thought we were good for a few free beers – Charles “Chas” Ayers. He’s from Essex so he’s used to girls telling him he’s a “hansome man” and thinking they spelled it right. For an Essex man Pattaya is just like being home.
The darts set up – four pristine boards, perfectly lit – is in the rear of the joint past about 15 brand new 9-foot Brunswick pool tables. Ayers is some sort of a pool savant so I guess this is why so much space is wasted on felt. He’s the owner so he can do what he wants. Fortunately the darts area is separated from the green – nicely in fact – by shiny glass tables just behind the line. I don’t know if this is always the case but for the few hours I was on site the little tables were well supplied with drinks.
We played a few games of 501, just best of one. I took on the Coach and nipped him in about 30 minutes with a spectacular d2 to finish in 60 darts. Next I played Ayers. The Pool Boy missed d16 and I stepped up, looking at 170. I took a swig of my beer, a deep breath, aimed, and stuck my first dart – perfectly – into the five. The rest is history. Ayers then showed he could do more than play 9-ball and stomp the likes of me by taking out Lord.
We went back to what we all know best – drinking and ignoring distractions. At some point the Coach disappeared or got lost or fell asleep.
I don’t remember how we got to our next stop…
I found myself in, of all places in Thailand, a small Swedish restaurant (Two Lions on Soi 9) with the two-time News of the World champion – surrounded by still more booze. We ordered dinner – meatballs of course – and had a long conversation about I can’t remember what.
Besides walking in unbearable heat and humidity, there are four ways to get about in Thailand. Listed in declining order of cost and safety they are: a hotel car, taxi, baht bus (or tuk-tuk), and on the back of a motor bike. In two decades of travel to Southeast Asia I have never gotten on the back of a motor bike. It just ain’t safe. So I got on the back of a motor bike.
I don’t remember the ride to my hotel…
I woke up to a beep on my phone and a text message from Lord, “I don’t remember how I got home but I am safe.” And another from the Coach, “Let’s meet for breakfast.”
Into the bathroom I padded – to find meatballs in my sink.
Then I remembered.
From the Field,
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