Column #HR302 The torch passes…

Tuesday, April 24, 2021
Column HR302
The torch passes…

There is an old canard around that to be a successful person it’s necessary to be evil, mean, a slave driver and generally unpleasant to those who are of little value economically to you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Currently, in North America there are few “new” canards as most that held potential have been wiped out by Covid-19.  Along with sidewalks, hairbrushes and cow farts, most fledging canards that have managed to survive have been banned from full-fledged canard consideration due to their perceived role by some for causing climate change.

For the first time in 20 years, the Professional Darts Corporation will be without Barry Hearn’s leadership.  He stepped down a week ago Monday as chairman of Matchroom Sports and the PDC.  Since the day in 2001 that he took control of the then World Professional Darts Players Association nothing in darts has been the same.

Prize money has risen from £500,000 to almost £16million.  Darts today holds the second highest rating on Europe TV (to soccer).  It is as old as archers in ale houses in medieval times, Hearn once described our sport.  Them old archers wouldn’t recognize their sport today.   All dressed up.

Hearn had a realistic view of darts.  A very ordinary game played by ordinary people with extraordinary ability.  They are not super athletes, but they are earning millions of pounds a year. 

Of dart fans Hearn commented, At the world darts they out-drink the Munich Beer Festival per head.  We did last year – 10 pints average, and if your girlfriend is on halves, you have to have 15 pints yourself.  It’s a lot but spread out over the whole day.  And we have security there in case anything gets out of hand.  Let it be noted that ODC does his part.

In announcing his retirement to the press via YouTube Hearn said, I wouldn’t admit this to anyone but you, my friends in the press (spoken with a twinkle in the eye and a grin), I’m 73 in June.  No one gets younger, although when I look at myself in the morning I’m always impressed – of course there is probably more trouble with my eyesight than my body.    

His son Eddie will now be sitting in the boss’ chair along with daughter Katie as CEO of Matchroom Media.  When asked the family’s reaction to his retirement?  The family was quiet supportive.  Eddie thought it was well overdue.

Early on, Hearn tried to buy the BDO for the sum of £1million.  The offer included the caveat that the PDC would continue all international events while covering all liabilities and supporting all the BDO projects.  The offer was rejected out of hand by the late Olly Croft who referenced his view of Hearn’s, inflated ego and perceived self-importance.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The ODC was introduced to Hearn by John Part at a heavyweight title boxing match in Las Vegas.  Hearn acted as if he had known the ODC for years.  Later encounter’s found Hearn exactly the same even though he probably had no idea who the heck this plump guy with the dyed hair and flowered shirt was.  It probably helped that the ODC was always close to a pretty girl.  That always helped the ODC, especially his ego.

James Wade has been on tour longer than anyone still playing in the PDC.  He was asked if he had any concerns with Hearn leaving.  Of course, I have concerns.  We don’t know what way things are going to go.  Without Barry we’d still be playing in smoky halls and saloons. 

Not that he needs the ODC’s Seal of Approval, but Eddie Hearn has done an outstanding job with Matchroom Boxing during the Covid-19 disaster.  Darters should be pleased that Mathew Porter will still be involved in the PDC.  Matt is another of the good guys who don’t fall far from the good guy tree of Barry Hearn.

Eddie Hearn has grown his sport while other boxing people have walked around with their hand out looking for sympathy.  Hearn has grown his promotion company to be the best in boxing with tentacles reaching worldwide.  Eddie’s latest coup was making the match between heavyweights Anthony Joseph and Tyson Furry.  The boxers will make $75 million with the fight to take place in the Middle East.

Don’t bet a farthing that darts won’t soon be part of the Middle East landscape.  During his announcement, Barry Hearn made the point that the new team in place would be better able than he to move forward in meeting new challenges.  While he will still oversee things one concept will act as a predictable roadmap:  Hearn’s motto of priorities: sport, players and profit, in that order.

As the world moves at warp speed what those new adventures or challenges will be is the question.  As the ODC once predicted, one of those challenges will be to enter the North American market with some force.

The ODC was wrong when he predicted it might be possible that the PDC would buy the American Darts Organization.  A source not authorized to speak on the subject has told the ODC that under no circumstances does the PDC have any interest in buying the ADO.  Instead, they have an interest in buying an American company.   (Before jumping to any conclusion, that company might well have nothing to do with darts.  Ponder that.)

Barry Hearn has always been a man of his word, which is a 180-degree contrast from others that ruled darts over the years, whether locally or internationally.  Past “rulers” required the peasants to bow and kiss their rings.  They were ego driven, of little talent whose priorities were Me, Me and Me.   That wasn’t Barry Hearn’s way nor those that succeed him.  They learned the right way to be successful.

There’s a canard: “Be a good guy.”

The first tweet Barry got upon his announcement was from his son Eddie.  It was sent from the head office and simply stated “Nando’s for everyone.”  There’s a man with vision.

AND out of the month of babes: In the Premier League Gary Anderson came off a 7-5 win over now relegated Rob Cross.  Meeting the press, he was asked about his next day match with Michael van Gerwen…  

It’s a good time to play me.  I’m absolutely rotten but Michael is the same.  We’re both terrible.  They drew at 6.

Stay thirsty my friends.

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.