Column #HR304 THE FERRET RULES!

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Column HR304
THE FERRET RULES!

In 1939, author Agatha Christie published her best-known mystery story.  Most know it as either “10 Little Indians” or “Then There Was None.”  Neither was the original title.

If published today, “Ten Little Indians” would be titled “Ten Height Challenged Human Persons from the Subcontinent.”

In a nutshell, the story starts with 10 people and ends up with none, like the story of a darts game…

“You start with something and when you get to nothing you win,” the Old Dart Coach once explained to ESPN’s Chris Berman while doing the Challenge of Champions.  Something to none summarizes the Premier League from 10-1.  The final 5 nights of 15 played back-to-back in Milton Keys.

The fans were back in championship form.  Four caught the OLD attention.  While appearing to be gender males they were dressed in ball gowns with wigs.  They appeared to be the last four at the Dave Whitcombe’s Gore Court Arms in Sittingbourne on Grab a Granny Night.

Defending champ Glen Durrant and Rob Cross went quietly and early.  In 18 games the pair went 3-1-14.  “Dreadful” is too kind.  James Wade and Gary Anderson (whose approach to the Premier League was, “I could give a Sweet Fanny Adams”) followed.  On the night before the penultimate night both Nathan Aspinall and Jose de Sousa secured playoff spots joining leader Michael van Gerwen.

The only drama was the match between Johnny “The Ferret” Clayton and Dimitri Van den Bergh.  The Old Dart Coach would politely like to suggest that Mr. Clayton might want to check the definition of a “ferret”: “The ferret (mustela putorius furo) is the domesticated form of the European polecat, belonging to the same genus as the weasel.  Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators.”

Clayton got his invite to the Premier League when he defeated Mervyn King 11-8 in the 2021 Masters.  After accepting the £60,000 winner’s check, Clayton announced he might chuck his plastering day job.  The wise Old Dart Coach advised against it.  The ODC’s free advice is worth the price.

Clayton shouldn’t have been in a must win vs. Van den Bergh.  He had blown big leads, losing to Peter Wright (8-6) and Jose de Sousa (8-5) in the previous two nights.  Clayton got the “whips & jingles,” causing doubles to go astray on both occasions.  Clayton would prevail 8-6 with an average of 103.92, assuring a £80,000 check and a date with MvG in the semi-finals.

One would think that Clayton-Van den Bergh, the last match of the night, would have had the crowd on edge.  Not so, as Jose de Sousa’s pounding of Nathan Aspinall (8-3) stole the spotlight while putting commentator Wayne Mardel on IR. The magic moment occurred when de Sousa had 120 remaining with three darts.  His first dart was d20…

Mardle, “Is he going for it?”

The second dart hit the D20.

Mardle, “I don’t BELIEVE It.”

When the third d20 hit, Wayne Mardle went bananas.  “I CAN’T BEIEVE IT!  HE DID IT!  OH MY!”

Not only did de Sousa use 3-double 20’s for 120-out but also took out Mardle.

Mardle tore his vocal cords, taping out of the commentary box – first time in history that Wayne Mardle couldn’t talk.  (Happened to the ODC once at a North American.  Those around him had big smiles while the condition lasted.)

The Sultan of Sittingbourne, Dave Whitcombe, opined, “de Sousa caused a bit of sensationalism according to many over his 3 double top finish.  Yet up and down the country in doubles board leagues it’s done a few times every season.  And as for tv… well, Ronnie Davis did it way back in ’78 on way to winning the World Masters.”

The ODC played on a doubles board one New Year’s Eve at the Long Car Inn in Barnsley, Yorkshire.  No, he couldn’t hit a double there either (or understand what the hell people were saying).

While Michael van Gerwen was a big favorite over Clayton, he didn’t play like it as Clayton took a 6-4 lead in the race to 10.  Then, the real MvG showed up – taking 3 on the trot for a 7-6 lead, then 8-7.  That was it for the Wooden Shoe Guy as Clayton showed no signs of the W’s & J’s after leveling at 8, then braking with an 11-darter for 9-8.  He finished the deal with a 121-check to wave goodbye to MvG.

The Nathan Aspinall – Jose de Sousa semi was described as a “nail biter” with a final line of 10-9 for de Sousa.  In fact, de Sousa, “The Special One,” trailed only twice at 5-4 which he quickly leveled.  What distracted from some great play was de Sousa’s inability to count.  He once left 7, which he failed to convert with 4 darts.  Another time he left 57, then tossed 15 and d16 to bust.  Go figure.

In the decider Aspinall threw 164 to leave 145 as de Sousa was on 195.  “The Special One” answered with 171 (which the referee called 175) to leave 24.  Aspinall couldn’t check as de Sousa did.

The final between Clayton and de Sousa was actually a “ho-hum,” although not to Clayton who would prevail (11-5).  Clayton had registered 63% on checks when he beat van Gerwen.  Against de Sousa he was 11-19 or 57.894736842%.  de Sousa’s only lead came in the first leg won with the darts.  The match had some moments that were overshadowed by the runaway score.

The guess is that Clayton couldn’t care less as he collected £250,000 and the title of Premier League Champion.

Clayton’s home is Pontyberem in South Wales which had a population of 2,829 but shrunk to 2,768 on 2011.  Probably not a tourist destination.

“It’s absolutely massive for me to win this trophy, and it means the absolute world to me,” he told the South Wales Guardian: “It’s absolutely phenomenal – thank you to everyone who believes in me, it means a lot.”  Following the ODC’s advice he added “I’m still back in work on Monday.”  Clayton, like many darters, will celebrate his win by getting “plastered.”

Agatha Christie’s novel, “Then There Were None,” may have foreshadowed English players dominating the PDC.  A sportswriter once opined after the last English player had exited Wimbledon, “The English are great at inventing a game, then do seem to have some trouble playing them.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.