Column #HR306 Tip a few for Andy Fordham

Friday, July 16, 2021
Column HR306
Tip a few for Andy Fordham

As the summer wind blows across the English landscape the last two of the Brit’s four premier summer sporting events are played.  Already in the books is “The Championship,” the official name for Wimbledon, and Euro 2020 – played in 2021.  So far, England has been effected with a case of the “O-fers.”  The chance of an English player winning “The Open,” aka British Open Golf, is somewhere between nil and zero.  The change at the darts World Matchplay is somewhat better – their hopes riding on #4 James Wade.

England’s 1-1 loss on penalty kicks 3-2 to Italy in Euro 2020 was the perfect spark for the racial venom of so-called “fans” to burst into flame.  The English missed 3 penalty kicks, and all came off the boots of black players – all born in England.  They and their family were viciously attacked on “not social” social media.  The Queen of Darts, Ms. Deta Headman, answered those hooligans…

I was born in Jamaica and came to this country at 13.  The greatest achievement of my life has been to represent my adoptive country in the sport I love.  This was surpassed when I was made captain.  Nobody prouder to wear my England shirt.  Like many, I was gutted last night.  For the lads to get those racist social media comments sickened me.  Their tears and mine were real.  We’re proud of all the team and proud of my country. 

Should an English player not win the World Matchplay and not collect the £150,000 first prize the old canard that “England is good at inventing games but has trouble playing them” will again rule the day.  James Wade should get to the quarters, but he’ll have to beat Rob Cross for a matchup with 2020 champ Dimitri Van den Bergh, Price or Chisnall in the semifinals.

The Matchplay runs from July 17-25 with PDC-TV showing the action each and every day live.  The mid-summer classic will welcome back fans in funny costumes fueled with the magic elixir that makes them think they can sing on key.  The event returns to Blackpool’s Winter Garden after last year’s Covid-19 transfer to Marshall Arena in Milton Keys.  If Wimbledon and Euro 2020 are any example the crowd will be jammed in like sardines in a tin with masks as scarce as two Caucasians in an American TV advert.

For TV fans John Part returns to the airwaves to partner with Wayne Mardle.  The ODC considerers himself as the Gold Standard in evaluating sports announcers.  Way too often the announcers are besotted with their voices with results like watching a silent movie with the video off.   This pair lets the picture do the talking.

It should surprise no one that the Betfred betting favorite is Michael van Gerwen (9/2) despite a disappointing year to date.  He’s followed by Gerwyn Price (5/1), José Augusto Oliveira de Sousa (7/1) and Peter Wright (8-1).  The Old Dart Coach is going with #10 Jose De Sousa to take it all.

“O que quer dizer, é estúpida?”  Absolutely yes, but with a method in his madness.

de Sousa has been in great form lately winning two Player’s Championships and a runner-up from the last four.  Like the Port wine for which Portugal is famous, Jose has gotten better with a little aging.  At the age of 47 he’s just hitting his stride on the International PDC Tungsten Trail.  As the Canadian correspondent for Toeing the Oche reports, “When he’s on no one plays better.”  If he gets by opening night jilters, to reach the finals he’ll have to best Michael Smith and then #5 Peter Wright.

In the Colonies the Championship Dart Circuit held their first three events recently in Tampa, Florida.  This year, the CDC can be viewed live on PDC-TV.  Danny Lauby is a 28-year-old darter from Indiana whose dad Dan was one heck of a player also.  Danny has risen to the top with a total of 25 tournament wins in his career.  In the first three events he was on his way to a Hat Trick when derailed by Texan Leonard Gates.

For Gates it was a little pay back after Lauby had defeated him 6-2 on the first day of the three-day event.  That final came easier than in the quarter finals when Lauby fell behind Chris Lim 5-1, then opened a can of WA winning 6-5.  In the semifinal he was tied with #2 Seed Chuck Puleo at 3 when his can of WA exploded for a 6-3 win.

Day two again saw Lauby emerge victorious.  He now joins DJ Sayre and Gary Mawson as the players to have won two CDC evens on the trot.  Lauby had a comparably easy road to the semifinals beating Chris Cherry 5-3 then a couple of 5-2 wins over Stan Perry and Howard Minor.  Chuck Puleo had a chance for a little pay back when he jumped to a 3-nil lead in the semis but never had another outshot as Lauby averaged 99+ over the next six legs for the 6-3 win.  In the final Lauby took a 5-0 lead over Gary Mawson before coasting to a 6-1 win.

On the final day, and as Lauby had a chance to tie both Larry Butler and Danny Baggish for three in a row, Mr. Gates intervened.  At the start it looked like Lauby would steamroll to his third win of the weekend as Gates began the day with a below par performance in round 1.  But a win is a win.  Lauby also started slow – but then his can of WA went to work.  He defeated George Daniels, Geoff Miller, Chris White and Nick Linberg with a combined score of 22-3.  With a big lead Gates came under vaulted attack that drew Lauby even – but Gates took the decider and the win 6-5.

Next stop for the CDC is September 17-19 in Philadelphia.

A chill wind blows across the UK today with the passing of Andy Fordham.  He was much more than a darts player – he was a nice man who passed at 59 which is much too young.  He was always a gentleman who battled health problem until the very end when his organs finally gave out.  He lost four times in BDO world championship finals until he beat Mervyn King in 2004.  To get to that final he had a stunning comeback against Raymond van Barneveld.

Andy had been a friend for years.  His admirers posted heartfelt tributes when told of his passing.  Bobby George wrote, “(he) was a gentle giant and loved by all.”  Deta Hedman remembers Andy with fondness, “knew Andy for many years – a darting highlight was winning the World Cup in Switzerland 1995.  Was proud to work with Andy for Heart of Darts charity again for many years.”

It wasn’t just the UK that mourned.  Dharam Singh a long-time face of darts in Southeast Asia remembers Andy well.  “He was in Kuala Lumpur for the World Cup representing England.  Shared a few cold ones with him.  His usual order would be 10 beers in a sitting, sharing with everyone.  RIP my friend and God Bless.”

Don’t stay thirsty my friends.  Tip a few for Andy – he’d appreciate that.

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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.