Column #CM 68 “Let Us Entertain You”
Thursday, August 1, 2019
“Let Us Entertain You”
Jesters and clowns – or as one would put it today, comedians and entertainers – have always been important during Blackpool’s summer season. Everybody who is or was anybody performed over the years in the Winter Gardens, the Grand Theatre or other establishments in Blackpool. For all those comedians and entertainers a comedy carpet memorial was erected in the autumn 2011. Here, just across the Blackpool Tower, you’ll find quotations from more than a thousand writers, comedians and entertainers. For five years artist Gordon Young worked with his team to complete it.
The cross shaped carpet makes a connection between the tower and the beach. To build it required lots of time and work because all the texts were set in type from single letters made from granite which were cemented. In this way 320 slabs were produced and put together. The artists used red and black granite from India.
The letters vary in size – some of the quotes can even be read when standing high up on top of the Tower. The slabs were angled in different directions – so from any direction some of the quotations can be read. And visitors will always will discover something new – despite walking over the carpet several times during the years not until this visit did I discover a dart quotation (see the photo above!).
On my last night at the World Matchplay the entertainment started with the match between Daryl Gurney and Keegan Brown. I’ve no idea what both players did in between their matches – but neither started well. It was an under par match at least until the first break. Plus, the players had a lot of trouble hitting their doubles. Gurney went with a 4-1 lead into the first break.
Everybody hoped the match would improve and it did but only a little bit and the averages before the second break were around the 90 mark (Keegan Brown reached a peak of about 94). Both players were finally better on the doubles as well. Gurney was still in the lead at the second break though his lead had been reduced to only two legs.
After the second break we finally had a match. Brown only just missed to level several times. Gurney played a strange match – some legs were really strong but those were always followed by really weak ones and he was far from happy himself. Gurney managed to win before the match would require the tie break. His average was 93.44 and his hitting rate on the doubles 30 percent…
Stephen Bunting and Ian White came on stage next and started slightly better than the match before. It was a quite evenly matched game but Bunting was far more clinical on the doubles. Then Bunting‘s average dropped and White dominated and took the lead before the second break – and Bunting seemed unable to find he way back to his great performance in his first match.
To me it appeared White would swing himself over the finishing line first but suddenly Bunting decided not to give in and reeled of leg after leg from 4-9 down to 8-9. At first he couldn‘t manage to draw and White only needed another leg. But finally Bunting levelled. The match went into the tie break and White couldn’t hit either scores nor doubles any longer. To the delight of the crowd Bunting won the match.
The average didn’t get much higher in the match between Rob Cross and Krzysztof Ratajski which followed. Ratajski won the first two legs but instead of gearing up he geared down and Cross was took on the role of all-round entertainer and went into the second break with an 8-2 lead. After the break, Ratajski won a few more legs – it might be Cross already had switched off but he never was in danger of losing the match. With 11-5 he progressed into the next round.
The last match of the night as well developed into a one-sided affair. Peter Wright was too strong and Simon Whitlock had no chance at all. He even seemed to have lost all fighting spirit – up to the second break he only won a single leg. In fact, it was quite similar to the quarterfinal both had played last year. So, Wright took the reins and even performed a little bit of magic with a 170-finish and 7 perfect darts to entertain the crowd. It’s a pity he didn’t manage to throw a 9-darter…
The second night with second round matches was far less thrilling then the first. The only convincing players were Peter Wright and Rob Cross – and Stephen Bunting had impressed with his fighting spirit. Many players produced weaker performances then in the first round.
On my way home I of course pondered who in the end would win the event…
Despite his convincing performances I was not sure Peter Wright would do it. I couldn’t shake the feeling when considering his attitude and demeanour that it could be Rob Cross‘ tournament in the end.
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