Column #HR321 PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Column HR321
PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE!

The battle at the Palace has almost reached the halfway mark.  For darts fans the world over this signals that they can take a pause for the cause – playing Santa, with the strong possibility of “a pint of” without darts.

Things got going when the always resplendent John McDonald, with tie, welcomed everyone to the ALEXANDRA PALACE in London.  But then, shortly after play got underway, a source inside the PDC leaked that there is scandal brewing with commentator Wayne Mardle…

Those that follow the PDC know that Mardle often uses the terms “off the boil” and “under the gosh.” It can now be revealed that in the near future Mardle will be releasing his first book title: Off the Boil & Playing Under the Gosh or My Life in Darts. By using his platform to pre-sell his book, a lawsuit is sure to follow.

The big news on night one came not from the Palace but from the WDF.  The WDF World Championship at Lakeside, scheduled to start January 1 was cancelled.  The Squire of Sittingbourne, Dave Whitcombe, opines, some like to say it’s ‘postponed’ which technically it is, but if this new wave gets busier early next year, you can forget April because foreign players won’t be allowed in.  A conspiracy “whack job” would say there the WDF is searching for funds.

The first match featured Ritchie Edhouse against Peter Hudson.  Edhouse won (3-2) despite going only 12 for 51 on doubles. Canadian Matt Campbell had a chance to be the second Norte Americano on the trot to eliminate Adrian Lewis in the worlds.  He failed falling 3-1.  Lewis would lose next round to Gary Anderson (3-1).  Canadian John Norman Jr. dug a finishing hole with missed doubles against Chas Barstow, losing 3-1.

USA’s Danny Lauby was right there against William O’Conner even after he fell 3-1 in the first set against a 106.29 average.  After winning the first leg of the 2nd set, Lauby had “double trouble” – missing darts to win every leg. Down 2-nil, the Yank took set three with checks of 116 & 117.  O’Connor missed three match darts allowing Lauby a win to tie the match at 2.  With legs level Lauby missed the finish on a 121-check.  O’Conner landed tops for the win.

The deciding set went all the way to a last-leg shoot-out, and it was O’Connor who triumphed, landing tops after Lauby had missed a dart to win with what would have been his second 121 finish of a thrilling contest.

The ODC isn’t big with walk-on” music.  The exception was when “Rapid” Ricky Evans (YMCA) played Daryl Gurney (Sweet Caroline).  The Rapid One is a treat to watch – unfortunately, after Gurney said, “I’m afraid to go out as the police may arrest me for impersonating a dart player” that danger passed.  Gurney won 3-1.  Yea, the ODC did his YMCA dance.

At 67 and a very meaningful 365 days, Paul Lim became the oldest player to compete in the World Championships.  Lim’s match against Joe Murnan is best forgotten.  Murnan won 3-2 in a match that could have been timed with a sun dial.  How bad was it?  Averages were almost even at 79.  There was only one check of 100+ (118 by Lim).  And check averages were 35% and 27%.  Ugly.

The night was saved with maybe the best match of the championship so far between William Borland and Bradley Brooks. Borland would win 3-2.  With the match tied at 2-2 and legs level in the decider, Borland tossed the first ever nine-darter to win a match at the World Championships.  How about that?

The first seed to depart was Krzysztof Ratajski (#12) who exited to Steve Lennon 3-1.

The ODC would be remiss if he didn’t mention the Steve Beaton vs. Fallon Sherrock meeting.  Beaton would prevail 3-2 (3-2, 2-3, 3-0, 0-3, 3-1) including coming from behind 0-2 to win the first set.  It was a ding dong match of high quality.  Fallon was the crowd favorite being serenaded with “There’s Only One Sherrock” and “Walking in a Fallon Wonderland.”  That’s fine a good fun.

What wasn’t good fun was the booing of Steve Beaton (granted, his facial demeanor isn’t conductive to “buddy-pal-amigo.”)

Mardle commented that, if you don’t like Steve Beaten there’s something wrong with you. When the players broke away from the BDO Beaten didn’t go with them.  He thereby (along with Mike Gregory) became a star in the BDO.  Yes, there was resentment although that was a long time ago.  Under the BDO reign fans were treated like children as if they “should be seen but not heard.”  The PDC has invited the fans to be part of the show, hence the booing – an expected consequence when golden elixir in copious amounts is mixed with dart players.

Before there was the PDC, BDO and the WDF there was the News of the World (1947-1997).  It was called the most difficult tournament to win as the qualification process started in the local pub, then moved onward.

In 1963, during the London final a 16-year-old David Justice, played Tommy O’Regan. I beat Tommy O’Regan in the first round.  The next round saw me draw Tommy Barret, the reigning champion.  He beat me 2-1 but I got a set of silver darts for an 11 Dart 501.  Not bad from 8 foot with brass darts and feather flights. 

That started a great friendship with Tommy O’Regan.  At the end of the proceedings the MC, Les Treble (what a great name for a dart’s MC), said it was great to see a 16-year-old playing in the competition. He then asked, does anyone know where David is? to which O’Regan shouted, He’s at the bar!  That would be Tommy.

Hopefully, the spirit of Tommy O’Regan will live forever in the sport of darts.  In that holiday spirit, may all darters have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Until we meet next year remember…

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.