Column #HR 358 HAPPY BIRTHDAY to TWO LEGENDS!

Friday, July 22, 2022
Column HR358
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to TWO LEGENDS!

Yesterday, July 21, marked the birthday of two true legends of darts…

The initial winner of the World Matchplay, Larry “The American Eagle” Butler, is still soaring at the top of the sport.  Mr. John Lowe MBE is one that helped the sport grow, played at a superb level and was always a true gentleman.  All darters are fortunate to have them in our midst.

The World Matchplay reaches the Elite Eight.  The pretenders have been sent packing as those remaining are dreaming – dreaming of playing even better yet, already assured £30,000 but with visions of the Phil Taylor Trophy and a lot more quid dancing in their heads.

Last year, when Peter Wright and Dimitri Van den Bergh met it was for the title.  Wright was impossibly impressive, averaging 105.90 in an 18-9 victory.  Now, or the third time, Van den Bergh finds himself on the precipice of lifting the Phil Taylor Trophy.  

#8 Dimitri Van den Bergh 16-14 over #1 Peter Wright.

Break out the superlatives, then try to pick just one!  Amazing, incredible, unbelievable and November Foxtrot Whiskey.

This started as a slugging match in the realm of Hearns-Hagler with Wright being Hearns – getting off the canvas to return to the fight.  But like Hearns he would get KO’d.

Van den Bergh was able to take advantage of Wright’s tendency to snooze during a match.  He did in this match and paid the price.

Wright lost the first leg in 13 darts and won the next 4.  At 1-4 down Van den Bergh gave Wright a little taste of “Singapore Justice” as in a “Right Caning” with a run of 9-1 to an 11-5 lead.

Wright changed darts from gold to silver, back to gold.  They worked – he took the 3rd set 3-2 and was down 4 at 12-8.  Wright, back to purple darts with orange stems and flights, brought the match even at 12-12.

Wright then led 13-12 – in 14.

The lead then disappeared as Van den Bergh used 11 to level at 13 with a 96 finish in 2, then 12 for 14-13.

Wright got even again when Van der Bergh missed the bull from 164.  But Van den Bergh ended it in 13 and 14 darts.  In the winning leg he tossed 177 to leave 44 which went bye-bye.

#4 Michael van Gerwen 16-15 over Nathan Aspinall.

There’s an old Show Biz (which the World Matchplay is) saying that you never want the stage after an act of kids or animals.   Van den Bergh and Wright are neither – but “same-same” deal.

What Van den Bergh and Wright did was suck the energy out of the crowd which was asking for a time out – time to catch their breath, take a long trip to the loo and stock up on Golden Elixir.  When van Gerwen and Aspinall met last year here MvG prevailed 16-9.

Van Gerwen was playing well, holding his own throw while breaking Aspinall’s throw twice for a 7-3 lead after the second set of 5.

Then it became 11-4 MvG.  To that point, he was averaging 102, finishing 50% with legs of 17 and 15, 3 at 14, 2 at 13 and 3 at 12.  WOW.

The crowd almost stopped singing as Aspinall then put together 4 legs of 15, 15, 14 and 13 to narrow MvG’s lead to 12-8.

The crowd may have been hoping for an instant replay of the Van den Bergh – Wright contest.

They got it!

When MvG got to 14 and needed 20, Aspinall took 164 on the bull!

MvG got to 15, one from victory, when Aspinall only used 15 and a T06 check to narrow to 15-11.  That begat another Bull finish from 90 with MvG on 24, making it 15-12.

Aspinall would add his 4th on the run for 15-14.  But…

…MvG who had played well then shone brightly as he wrapped it up with T15, T80, 60 – then a T46 (T20, T20, d13) finish.

Today – best of 31

Danny Noppert vs. #14 Dirk van Duijvenbode.   

#2 Gerwyn Price vs. #7 Jose de Sousa.

A word of caution on the Danny Noppert vs. #14 Dirk van Duijvenbode match….

Dirk van Duijvenbode downplayed his 11-7 win over Michael Smith that got him into the final 8.  Saying of his 98 average, “I played rubbish”.  This brought a response from Wayne Mardle: “It’s too bad when a player relies on averages not being able to celebrate the win.  There’re no averages on trophy’s.”

The Chalk-eating Weasel went 1 and 1 today.  Not good for a Chalk-eating Weasel’s digestion.

More words of wisdom from Wayne Mardle: “How you noticed, John (talking to mic partner, John Part) that all those wearing green Michael van Gerwen shirts look like him.  Makes no difference, age or sex.”

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.
Howie Reed

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