Column #HR383 Where were we?

Thursday, November 22, 2022
Column HR383
Where were we?

But first…

There are times in sport when you’re stunned into silence and or brought to tears of pure joy.  It’s like a romanticist having a loved one sent IL DIVO singing “I will always love you.”  That’s what happened on the seventh day of the Cazoo Grand Slam.  If you didn’t yell “I love this sport!” you never toed the oche.

Raymond van Barneveld turned the clock back to 2012 when he won the Grand Slam.  Remember, he retired to play exhibitions.  Then Covid hit.  Last February, he went back to Q school as he fought back, believing in himself.  He was ridiculed.  But he had himself and his Army.  Maybe on that stage after a remarkable comeback with the crowd in a frenzy he thought “How do you like me now?”

The match was superb.  Barney was down 8-3 after tossing away the first 2 legs with missed doubles against #1 Gerwyn Price.  He leveled at 2 in 10 and 15 darts, but Price then built a lead with 12, 13, 14 and 2-15 dart legs.  Barney saw only 2 doubles during that run.

John Donne wrote: For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. 

It was impossible not to feel those words were for Barney.

In a magnificent display, Barney won the next 7 legs (aided by Price who missed 8 doubles in 4 legs).  Price got to 10-9 in 13 -which Barney answered in 14.  Price edged back to 11-10 when RvB opened a can of “WA” (14-10).

“I’m probably in the top five players of all-time along with Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Eric Bristow and John Lowe, and everyone knows I can do this.  It is all about belief.”

RvB is right.

But then, like for Cinderella, the clock stuck 12 and the shoe wouldn’t fit – meaning Barney wasn’t going to the finals.  He ran into Michael Smith who started with legs of 10 and 12, eventually leading 5-0.  With the final score at 16-12 even new math would deduce that Michael Smith was on the way to a final.  Barney was trying to climb Mt. Everest in wooden shoes.  That same math will illustrate that after a slow start going 12-11 wasn’t enough.

Following the 5-0 “pause for the cause” Barney took 3 on the trot.  At 9-7 Smith, the match was magic.  It would be tied three times over the remaining12 legs.  In those legs there was an 11-darter, three 12s, two of 13, two of 14 and three 15-darters.  van Barneveld tied the score at 11 when Smith missed 8 doubles.  In the past, that would have been Smith’s “purple patch”.  Not this time as he lost only one leg the rest of the way – and that in 13.  Smith’s prodigious scoring of 104.1 over 28 legs speaks for itself.

When Nathan Aspinall and Luke Humphries met in the other semi their styles were diametrically opposed – Humphries throws with a nonchalance that seems almost effortless while for Aspinall it seems like throwing each dart takes the ultimate effort.

Coming from behind, Humphries leveled at 4 and then jumped ahead to lead 6-4 and 7-5 before losing the lead at 8-7.  They would then be on the same page at 9, 10 and 11 when Aspinall took the lead with a nifty 21-darter that included only two scores of a ton.  Aspinall used only 24 darts to extend his lead to 14-11.  At 15-12 the ASP ended it with a T21-check for a trip to the finals.

But WAIT! 

Historians know that it was an ASP that bit Cleopatra on the bosom, ending her life.  Some believe that it wasn’t an ASP but an Egyptian cobra.  Regardless Cleo bit the dust.

Nathan Aspinall’s bite had been lethal at the Cazoo Grand Slam this year.  For Smith this would his 9th try at the TV finals.  The first eight didn’t go well.

The smooth stroking Smith survived the bite of the ASP building a 7-3 on his way to a 16 -5 win.  Smith used 16 and d20 to get the monkey of choking in finals off his back and collapsed in pure joy.  After receiving the £150,000 check Smith commented, “I’m used to giving the runner-up speech.”

OK, now…

On the hit television show Yellowstone, Kelly Reilly, playing Beth Dutton, said to her dad, You can love memories, but they won’t love you back.” The Old Dart Coach usually abides when a redhead speaks but not this time.

He loves his memories of the Choo Choo Classic – the one where a lady friend (name withheld, but her first name is found in every song and her last name’s a stable of an Asian diet) in which they left the blind draw on the way to a after party…

On the way they ended up in a ditch and the “projects” and eventually parked on her parent’s lawn with a cup of beer on the roof of the car.  Two seemly adults, the ODC and the lady, were then chauffeured to and from the Cho0 Choo by the lady’s mom.

On two occasions the ODC played pairs with Randy Goodpasture.  They shared a love of college football and the ability never to advance past the first round…

Eliminated early, they headed to a college pub in Chattooga called the Keg to watch Alabama-Auburn.  Randy was an Auburn alum.  The next year, again after a fast exit, they headed to the Keg to watch USC-Notre Dame.  We walked into an empty bar and were greeted by the bartender with, Are you two guys back again.”

Chattooga “Chainsaw” Joe Chaney will remember last week’s Choo Choo for some time.  With chainsaw revved, he went through the entrants like Paul Bunion did the Sahara Forrest.

No Sahara Forrest?  There was until Paul got there.  Chaney won the mixed doubles cricket, men’s singles 501 and both men’s doubles.

Oh yes, we were

…on the way to say Happy Thanksgiving but first…

Fallon Sherrock and the ladies of Europe have something to be thankful for.  As the ODC predicted, Sherrock will fill the empty spot in the World Championships.  Like the Tungsten God the PDC works in mysterious ways.

Sherrock gets in the draw as the PDC gives the Women’s Matchplay winner a spot.  In addition, the PDC prize fund will increase to £240,000 for 24 events across six weekends.

HAPPY THANKSIVING and 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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