Author Archives: Howie Reed

Column #HR308 Colorful hair, pants, shoes, “Old Mo” and Snakebite GIT ‘ER DONE!

Monday, July 26, 2021
Column HR308
Colorful hair, pants, shoes, “Old Mo” and Snakebite GIT ‘ER DONE!

The Old Dart Coach could dine on crow, fava beans and a nice Chianti (not Pierazzuoli Chianti Montalbano Riserva 2015 – but on the brown bag stuff).  But still, his Matchplay predictions were right more than wrong.  He did pick the winner, Peter Wright, as did Wayne and Julia Miller.  Before the Matchplay started Wright said, “I’m going to win.”  But then they all say that.  

He did win, adding £150,000 to his bank account and lifting the Phil Taylor Trophy.  Overall, the play for all was subpar, except for Wright, for the most part.  This could be attributed to playing before a live and sometimes boisterous crowd for the first time in eons.

The ODC would be remiss if he didn’t describe the crowd.  Here’s a story that Dutch Darter Roland Scholten loves to hear from the ODC…

A man arrives for a holiday in the woods.  It’s bear season.  Not a hunter, the man gets advice and a gun from an expert.  Once out, he sees and shoots.  The bear falls.  The man rushes up.  Not dead, the bear grabs the hunter, bends him over, pulls down his pants and has his way.

So, he hunter gets a bigger gun – and the next day it’s the same.  He shoots, the bear falls and – and has his way.  The same thing happens again and again for five days…

The bear is shot and gets up and says, “You don’t come here for the hunting, do you?”

Like the novice bear hunter, darts crowds don’t always come for the darts.  A pint or three, funny costumes, singing and signs for the telly.  Best sign?  The one held up by a lady: “Bobby I won’t be to work tomorrow.”  In the other hand a pint of lager.

The ODC can’t resist a little “Na, na” to the English.  Entering the semifinals there was nary an English player.  The ODC is obliged to repeat the totally gratuitous statement: “The English are great at inventing games, but they seem to have trouble playing them.”

Rookie Callan Rydz’s walk-on was more like a death walk.  His eyes were as big as the ODC’s when he sees a Popeye’s Chicken sandwich.  Rydz, a Jordy BMX rider, needed training wheels as the Polish Eagle, Krzysztof Ratajski, soared to an easy 16-8 win.

Gerwyn Price whined about the fans, calling for them to “respect (his) achievements.”  The crowd yawned as Price and Van den Bergh were in sleep mode until leg 9.  Price took the leg, acting like a pratt, yet behind 6-3.  Energized by the boo’s Price go to 8-7.  But he was discombobulated with 190 – he threw 180, the lost the leg.

The ODC was shocked – shocked I tell you that neither the commentators nor the crowd went bananas with the 180 to leave 10.  Van den Bergh ignored Price’s antics and took the 16-9 win.

When Peter Wright did his little “dicky-do” dance across the stage he also did it to Michael Smith’s hopes to move on.  Snakebite was sailing along 11-4 after a run of 7 but lost focus and dropped 3 in a row.  Smith’s problems were with doubles – with numerous chances in double digit zone, with 3 he couldn’t close.  At 13-7, after a break Wright added 3 more and it was “Hello, semi-finals.”   

Can Michael van Gerwen vs. Nathan Aspinall be described in one word?  Yes, UGLY.

If doubles were the Pacific Ocean and these guys wer in Malibu with beach balls, they couldn’t hit the water.  The pair combined for 25 doubles from 79 attempts.  MVG at 13-9 won legs of 12, 13 and 11 Darts for the 16-9 win.

Defending champion Dimitri Van den Bergh faced off against Krzysztof Ratajski and fell behind 4-1.  But still, Ratajski was under a lot of pressure on him.  The late Tommy Lasorda once said, “Pressure is when you try to do something that you’ve never done before.”

In the 9th leg when Ratajski missed two to go up 7-2, losing the leg “Old Mo” deserted him for good.  Van den Berge went from 6-3 down to the 17-9 win.  Was van Den Bergh brilliant?  Hardly.  The Polish Eagle from 6-3, missed 18 darts at a doubles yielding 11 legs to Van den Bergh.  Van den Bergh advanced again to the finals – and should have thanked Ratajski.

Against Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright started like a house on fire jumping to a 4-1 advantage.  van Gerwen maintained his ordinary performance.  Then it was Wright ahead 6-3 although van Gerwen had a chance to make it 5-4, but faltered.  The lead grew to 10-5 although MVG played his best of the week.  That showed.  MVG took 4 to narrow to 11-9.

With a break after every 5 Wright, during the break, changed his darts.   John Part joked, “That’s his doubles shafts like a putter.”  From there Wright went 6-1 including a 149-check and a 121 on the bull to win 17-9.

The ODC was shocked, yet again, that anyone would think Dimitri Van den Bergh could win his second Matchplay, joining Rod Harrington and Phil Taylor…

Wright had a record of 54-15 while Van den Bergh was 54-31.  The Belgium was in the final because Ratajski missed 18 doubles giving Van den Bergh 11 legs.

Wayne Mardle predicted a “great final.”  It wasn’t.  Only one finish over 100.  That came from van den Bergh when down (17-9) for 105.  It was workman like.  For this week, Peter was the Dartwright completely dominating a classic field.

Wright took the final 18-9 leading from the first dart 4-1, 10-5, 12-8, 17-9 and 18-9.  Van den Bergh scored well, a 100 average, but wasted 17 darts at doubles, yielding 4 legs.  Wright averaged 105.9.

For his efforts Van Den Bergh, soon to be a father, takes home £70,000 which bumps his Matchplay earnings in two trips to £220,000.

Wright had predicted his victory – an opinion that was countered by both Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen when they said, “He won’t win.”

Anderson was correct when he said, “I won’t win.”  He didn’t.  van Gerwen had a chance to derail the Wright train but failed miserably.

Not enough is made of “Old Mo,” aka “Old Momentum,” in darts.  Wright had it from the get-go.  Whether it was the hair, the pants or the special shoes “Old Mo” and Wright got the job done.

Say thirsty my friends.

 

Column #HR307 And this year’s World Matchplay champion will be…

Friday, July 22, 2021
Column HR307
And this year’s World Matchplay champion will be…

Matchplay 2021 officially kicked off at the Winter Gardens when Dimitri Van den Bergh belatedly raised the Phil Taylor Trophy he won last year.  That one played sans crowd in Milton Keys.  The Old Dart Coach was shocked that presenter John McDonald was not wearing a tie but rather a mock turtleneck.  His explanation: “dressing down.”  Unacceptable.

The pros reflected on the passing of Andy Fordham.  Gary Anderson: I’d known Andy for a long time – an absolute gentleman.  Like myself, he was one of the laziest dart players but he was very, very good!  He would sit on his backside all day but then go up and play good darts – he was absolutely fantastic.  If you mention dart players from the past, you had Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, Andy Fordham.  He’ll be sadly missed in the darting world. 

The round of 32 to 16 went as expected.  The one exception may have been when Luke Humphries sent James Wade home 10-3.  This was payback to Wade for when he defeated Humphries in the final of the UK Open.  As Humphries built a 6-1 lead one pro said, “Wade just gave up.”  Luke would exit next round to Krzysztof Ratajski 11-5, this after the Polish Eagle made roadkill of Brendan Dolan 10-4 in Round 1.

Ratajski will face Callan Rydz in the quarter finals.  Rydz, a Matchplay rookie, took out #5 seed Rob Cross 11-8 recording a “Big Fish,” aka T70-out along the way.  Rydz’s first round was a pounding of “fast fading” Glen Durrant 10-6.  Durrant went through the Premier League with nary a win.

Defending Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh skipped into the quarters 11-8 over Dave Chisnell averaging 103+ which included 14 T80’s.  It was close only because Van den Burg was miserable on doubles, connecting on less than 28%.  His scoring allowed him to come from 7-6 down.  He’ll have to be a lot better in the round of 8.

Watching Gerwyn Price dismantle Johnny Clayton 11-3 in the battle of the “Y Ddraig Goch” most would think “there’s the champion.”  The two had paired to win the World Cup for Wales.  Price, despite the boos of the crowd, led 3-nil.  Clayton got his footing to move level at 3.  From then on, the Fat Lady was ready to sing “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau,” the unofficial national anthem of Wales.

“Y Ddraig Goch”?  The Red Dragon.  It was a dominating performance.

ThursdayQUARTER FINALS best of 31

Krzysztof Ratajski vs. Callan Rydz.  The rookie Rydz should be the favorite here.  Ratajski took out Humphries but Rydz’s nail bitter over Rob Cross was more impressive.  Still, with time to think Rydz’s rookie nerves will cost him.

Gerwyn Price vs. Dimitri Van den Bergh.  Price should win this one even if Van der Bergh solves his double troubles.  The only “if” here is if Van der Bergh, who’s slower than the Second Coming of the Lord, tosses Price off his game.  The crowd will be behind Van der Bergh to no avail.

Michael Smith and José de Sousa took part in a “wing ding doozy.”  de Souza used double tops/double tops to break tie at 6.  Once de Sousa got to 10-8, one leg from a win, he wilted like the ODC’s backyard tomato plants in the 110-degree heat.  Smith broke and then held to force overtime where it took 2 clear legs to win, except at 13-all one leg wins.  de Sousa came back refreshed for 11-10.  Missed doubles allowed Michael Smith to moved level at 11, then to 12 – 11 when de Sousa missed a bushel of doubles.  Double 10 had been the bug-a-boo for Smith throughout the match.  He finally hit it ,winning 13-11.  Yes, de Sousa wilted like last week’s wedding flowers.

Gary Anderson was asked, “Do you think you can win it?”  His answer was “no.”  That’s the way he started play against Nathan Aspinall, going 0-3.  Aspinall was coming off a 10-6 win over Mervyn King.  Afterwards he said, “It’s my first win in the World Matchplay so I’m very happy.  As Aspinall’s DNA shows, he’s there to be had after the first break.  Leading 3-2, the match creeped along until Aspinall got up 9-7 – when Anderson then took out 149 to make it 9-8.  Then Aspinall answered with 117 for 10-8 – one leg from victory.  Anderson saved for 10-9 but then misses in the next leg gave the “W” to Aspinall.

Ian White, coming off a 10-7 win over #3 Daryl Gurney, wouldn’t have been the betting favorite but he could have been a “live dog” against Michael van Gerwen.  van Gerwen’s 10-7 win over Aussie Damon Heta was ordinary.  One elixir fueled lady raised the sign: “MVGoat.”  White-van Gerwen followed two great matches that had the crowd rockin’ and a rollin’.  Not this one.  When van Gerwen hit a 121 on the bull to win 11-8 the crowd woke from their slumber.  It was either for the 121 or that the match was finally over.  Or a combination thereof.

Peter Wright started his match against Joe Cullen up 3-2 at the first break.  Wright changed stems and flights winning 11-5 with a 105.46 average.  Those flights and shafts will be available at dartest Jan Turner’s Dart Shoppe soon, maybe tomorrow.   

Friday: QUARTER FINALS best of 31 

Gary Anderson opined, when asked if Michael van Gerwen would win the tournament – “No.” The Old Dart Coach doesn’t think so either so is going with Nathan Aspinall – as MVG is human.

Peter Wright has a steep hill to climb when he meets Michael Smith.  Wright said, “I’ll win it.”  #1Gerwyn Price said, “Talk is cheap.”  Michael Smith might have said “We’ll see on Friday.”  Should be a cracker.

Only fools would predict a winner.  The ODC qualifies…

I’m taking world #1 Gerwyn Price to eliminate defending champion Dimitri Van der Bergh to reach the semifinals against Callan Rydz.  The rookies dream trip will end with a big Price.

On the other side of the draw, I like Peter Wright to better Michael Smith (that’s for Julia in Phoenix), then beat Nathan Aspinall in the semifinals.

Aspinall will be on cloud 9 after beating MVG but to no avail.

The Champion: Peter “Snake Bite” Wright.

Stay thirsty my friends.

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.

Column #HR305 Has the ADO filed for bankruptcy?

Thursday, June 25, 2021
Column HR305
Has the ADO filed for bankruptcy?

The ether will be filled with dart stories in the coming weeks and months predicting what the future holds.  That applies to both steel and machine…

The speculation will be based on little bits of fact and globs of guessing – all nicely wrapped and tied in a bow with a pretty string of hope.  The Old Dart Coach can play this game with ridiculous ease.

The PDC is sailing along on the Sea of Tranquility.  They are professionally managed – they made adjustments during the pandemic and players missed nary a payday.

However, for those in the home country, the USA, it’s much different.  Many ask, “Where goeth the American Darts Organization?”

To be clear, to put it in ODC-speak, kind of quoting Shakespeare, “Lend me your ears; I come to praise the ADO, not bury it.”  Not an easy task at this point.

The ADO was skating on financially thin ice well before the Wuhan Wallop arrived, bringing them to their knees…

Straight away though – a slight tip of the chapeau to Steve Brown for “attempting to keep the shingles on the ADO outhouse.”  Others might describe his efforts differently… as in, “using a child’s pail to bail water from a boat sinking in a typhoon” or, better yet, “the man’s up Sh*t creek without a paddle, but desperately looking for one that doesn’t exist.”

Brown is the ADO’s Director of Operations and always available to answer the ODC’s questions to the best of his ability.

Rumor’s floated (that’s what rumors do) that the ADO had filed for bankruptcy.  When questioned Brown replied, no, of course we haven’t.  We are in a far better state than we have been in years. 

A former ADO insider reported, they didn’t pay taxes for 2 years so lost their nonprofit status.  The board just let it ride for 8 years without telling anyone.  Former President David Hascup announced the problem.  It was discussed and the Board reached out to the state of Massachusetts and reapplied.  They were reinstated.  But still taxes didn’t get filed for even more years.  They (the ADO) had already gone bankrupt as the American Darts Organization and came back as ADO Inc.

Is there a fly in the ADO ointment?  Money collected for 2020 American Cup Team, scheduled to play in Jamaica, was not used because Wuhan Wallop forced the World Dart Federation to cancel the event.  The event was rescheduled for 2022 in Barbados with the 2020 team excluded.  Instead, the 2020 Team was given the “honor” of playing a virtual event from their home and a trip to Charlotte for qualifiers for Masters.

The question – the fly in the ointment – has to do with the money that was raised for the players but was used instead for “operating expenses.”  Really?  There were no tournaments or qualifiers.  What were the “operating expenses”?  What was the money spent on?

So, it’s possible the money for the team was used to either erase or lower the ADO debt.

Another former ADO insider remarked…

They’re up to their old tricks.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: What is revealing (but, sadly, typical) is that no ADO board member has stepped up to set the record straight, not that they can be trusted.  The ADO “leadership” has no respect for the membership.

With the 2020 players of the International team SOOL (Sh*t out of luck), what next?

The ADO website carries the announcement (alongside a Christmas greeting!) for the WDF World Masters National Finals and the ADO National Youth Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 9.  The cost for the Masters Nationals is $150 and the Youth Championship it’ $50.

Fees must be paid by June 25, which is today, somewhere.  With rumors rolling like thunder about the ADO’s solvency one should look to William Camden who in 1605 wrote, “All the proofe of a pudding, is in the eating.”

One well known lady darter posted, “I believe management has no obligation to involve nonemployees with the everyday operations.”  She stated this in response to the questions that have arisen for eons about what the ADO does with member’s money.   To the extent the lady writes of “everyday operations” she may have a point.  However, the term “everyday operations” does not include the use of funds collected on the member’s behalf (and which they supply) intended to be spent to their betterment or reward them.  It would be very difficult to make the case, at least with a straight face, that “operating expenses” are encompassed within the definition of “rewarding members.

The Motha Country, the UK, has been most negatively affected by lockdowns, which remain…

In the UK there was the added demise and burial of the British Darts Organization that may have brought out the playing of Taps for local darts.  At one time, the BDO was the worldwide leader in darts.  The UK and its friends ruled the World Dart Federation with an iron fist.  That has changed.

One with a personal knowledge of the UK darting scene posted, while there will be several factors involved, I would say with much certainty that Covid 19 was the final nail in the coffin, because several pubs have gone to the wall and until all restrictions have been lifted many have taken down dartboards.  Sounds ominous at best with their way “back to normal” blocked by more roadblocks than the entrance to the USA Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

The World Dart Federation has replaced the BDO as sponsor of The World Masters scheduled for December 2-5 in Assen, Netherlands, and the 2022 or 2023 World Cup.  This schedule is “iffy” as much of Europe remains closed tighter than a Tupperware lid.  But in case the World Master event does materialize players should have a little information on Assen, Netherlands.

Assen is located 82 miles from Amsterdam and best known by its Dutch TT race each June.  The 65,000 inhabitants are in the center of Netherlands’ nature.  For the men out there who think Netherlands and Christmas season equate to “window shopping in Amsterdam” – fuhgeddaboudit.   There’s NO Red-Light District in Assen.  But there’s hope for those males who are willing to take the extra step.

Groningen’s only an hour away by bus or train.  The city advertises, “There are around 95 prostitution rooms that are reminiscent of an art gallery.”  (“Yes Dear, I went to an art gallery in Groningen.”)  Deniability is important.

Machine Darts?  Good shape.  The (NDA), Team event was recently held in Las Vegas.  An “unofficial” stated, “There are 2,220 individual players.”  Money, money.

One storied dart pub in England was the Morning Star in Beckham.  Many great players toed the oche there.  One customer was John Henry House who drove the Budweiser-like team of horses and wagon for Youngs Brewery Wandsworth.  He remembers one night there…

Never forget the night Howie Reed beat Paddy from the Dulwich dart league.  You had been watching us play, then Paddy challenged you to a match saying no yank going to beat him.  Mr. Wonderful did not let the Morning Star down.  Could not stop laughing – you shut him up that night.

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

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.

Column #HR303 Rest in Peace, Terry O’Dea – more gold gone from the Golden Age

Friday, May 21, 2021
Column HR303
Rest in Peace, Terry O’Dea – more gold gone from the Golden Age

There are times when the Old Dart Coach takes advantage of this space to wax “not very eloquently” about the Golden Age of Darts.  The ODC accepts that today’s players wonder what the hell the “aged one” is on about.

The Golden Age of darts covered the years from the mid-1970’s until the mid-1990’s.  The era ended when the players began organizing in the UK.  That led to a fight between the players and the British Darts Organization, a fight that ended in a draw (which was not good for the BDO) and weakened ties between North American players and our overseas cousins.  The importance of international events on North American soil was diminished as international stars disappeared from the homes and tournaments of North America.

Another darts figure and friend from the Golden Age has passed on to the dart pub in the sky.  He was born Vale Terrance O’Dea on March 5, 1945.  The darting world knew him as Terry O’Dea, a swashbuckler of a man.  He was the Errol Flynn or Sean Connery of darts – able to drink and fight with the best of them (and win) while charming the fairer sex with a combination of good looks and a cheeky attitude.  

To the preceding description he would say “You’re joking.”

Terry O’Dea was a first-class character who brought with him talent, smiles and good cheer.  Terry joined others from the Golden Age in heaven on May 15th.

The ODC first met Terry in 1982 during the playing of the Pacific Cup in Vancouver.  He led the Australia team to victory, winning the singles (against Andy Green or Wade McDonald) and the doubles.  He paved the road for future Aussie players to play overseas.  His country rivalry with Russell Stewart was classic.  Stewart would follow O’Dea to England.

Roger Nickson wrote about his pal: I signed him to play for London (county team) in the mid-1980’s.  He also played for me at the Morning Star in Peckham.

All-time great Linda Batten talks about playing on that team.  I had so much fun playing for the Morning Star with Terry, Nicky and many others.  Great guys and me the only girl on the team, I loved it.   

In England he shared a manager with Eric Bristow.  He got a call to do a presentation.  Further details included the caveat that it was to be done for “free.”  Terry declined saying, “What, Eric turned you down?”  No fool, Mr. O’Dea.

The ODC had many occasions to run into Terry and share a pint or two.  Two stick in memory…

Once at the Japan Open players were told to arrive at 9:00 am.  Upon arrival Terry and the ODC were informed that neither would be playing until 2:00 pm.  Logically, they adjourned to a local pub around the corner.  They enticed Louise Ball, a great Australia player, to join them.  Many hours later they returned to the hall.

Terry won easily.  He then had time to root on the ODC.  At either round 16 or 8 he showed up to coach.  The ODC won.  O’Dea was called to play so baby-sitting duties were turned over to Barry Twomlow.  The ODC lost 3-2 to his good friend Lam Yin Koi of Singapore.  Terry returned just as the match ended…

“What happened?”

“He threw the wrong out,” replied Twomlow.

“I got him this far and you f**ked it up.”

Terry was a fixture at the BDO Embassy World Championships when it was the best tournament in the world.   Records that look “not very good” can be deceiving.  From 1979 to 1988 he lost to John Lowe 3 times, Eric Bristow twice, Jocky Wilson on two occasions with Rick Ney, Tony Brown and Alan Glazier.  Quality top to bottom.

One of the others who loved to gamble on anything was the late Nicky Virachkul.  At the Royal Hawaiian Terry and Nicky engaged in a marathon competition.  First was darts with 2 of 3-501 for $20 a game.

After 4 hours Terry asked where they stood.  He was told, “you’re up $20.00 dollars – the chalker is the only one making money.  My arm’s tired.”

After ascertaining that he (Terry – he probably lied) had never 10-pin bowled, they adjourned to the bowling alley.  Terry won.

Then came golf where again Terry emerged the winner.  It was then up to Terry to ask, “Wanna play cribbage?”

Nicky answered with a resound “NO” – the first time he ever ran from a cribbage board.

A former Aussie Rules Football player, called Footie, Terry could “handle business.”  In 1992 during the playing of the Pacific Cup in Melbourne, a local had been overserved and was acting like the stereotypical Aussie.  An organizer mentioned the problem to Terry while he and the ODC were sharing a pint.  “I’ll take care of it.”

Gone for less time than it takes to sip a bit of Golden Elixir, Terry returned.  Behind him lay the obnoxious one, out colder that a mother-in-law’s stare.  “He must have tripped.”

Often what one sees on the outside is no indication of the inside.  This was Terry O’Dea…

Ms. Elle Tea, the daughter of his good friend and fellow darter Shelia Bolton, recalls, To the darting fraternity that I grew up a part of you were Terry O’Dea.  To me, you were simply Uncle Terry.  Brash and opinionated, with meat cleavers for hands.  A true Aussie larrikin, who loved to take the piss, with a cheeky laugh that could fill a room.  They were my favorite parts, together with your huge caring heart.  I was 17, you promised to look after me as I wandered across to Perth for 10 days after finishing high school.  I worked in your pub, The Knutsford Arms Hotel, and you taught me how to pull beers.  I loved it so much that after 3 weeks, I wanted to stay.  I only returned to Melb after my mother booked me on the red-eye flight Christmas eve to have me home for Christmas.  As we sit here watching you in You Tube clips, doing what you loved, we marvel at just how much of a gentleman you were at the oche… taking on the world’s best with a smile.  I will miss all those things and the messages you always managed to remember to send for my birthday each year.  

Terry’s last night was chronicled by his 20-year partner Betty Walsh.  Whilst Terry was a very sick man it is still just a shock for him to go – but it was doing his normal thing and he had a scotch that night.  He wasn’t feeling well.  I spoke to him about midnight, and he just passed during the night. 

He’s in heaven now.  He will never be duplicated or copied.  He joins Barry Twomlow, Nicky Virachkul, Rick Ney, John “I’d Murder a Pint of lager” Markovich, Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson.  The Lord certainly has his hands full.

Terry O’Dea’s memory will live forever among those whose lives he touched.

God Bess. 

Column #HR302 The torch passes…

Tuesday, April 24, 2021
Column HR302
The torch passes…

There is an old canard around that to be a successful person it’s necessary to be evil, mean, a slave driver and generally unpleasant to those who are of little value economically to you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Currently, in North America there are few “new” canards as most that held potential have been wiped out by Covid-19.  Along with sidewalks, hairbrushes and cow farts, most fledging canards that have managed to survive have been banned from full-fledged canard consideration due to their perceived role by some for causing climate change.

For the first time in 20 years, the Professional Darts Corporation will be without Barry Hearn’s leadership.  He stepped down a week ago Monday as chairman of Matchroom Sports and the PDC.  Since the day in 2001 that he took control of the then World Professional Darts Players Association nothing in darts has been the same.

Prize money has risen from £500,000 to almost £16million.  Darts today holds the second highest rating on Europe TV (to soccer).  It is as old as archers in ale houses in medieval times, Hearn once described our sport.  Them old archers wouldn’t recognize their sport today.   All dressed up.

Hearn had a realistic view of darts.  A very ordinary game played by ordinary people with extraordinary ability.  They are not super athletes, but they are earning millions of pounds a year. 

Of dart fans Hearn commented, At the world darts they out-drink the Munich Beer Festival per head.  We did last year – 10 pints average, and if your girlfriend is on halves, you have to have 15 pints yourself.  It’s a lot but spread out over the whole day.  And we have security there in case anything gets out of hand.  Let it be noted that ODC does his part.

In announcing his retirement to the press via YouTube Hearn said, I wouldn’t admit this to anyone but you, my friends in the press (spoken with a twinkle in the eye and a grin), I’m 73 in June.  No one gets younger, although when I look at myself in the morning I’m always impressed – of course there is probably more trouble with my eyesight than my body.    

His son Eddie will now be sitting in the boss’ chair along with daughter Katie as CEO of Matchroom Media.  When asked the family’s reaction to his retirement?  The family was quiet supportive.  Eddie thought it was well overdue.

Early on, Hearn tried to buy the BDO for the sum of £1million.  The offer included the caveat that the PDC would continue all international events while covering all liabilities and supporting all the BDO projects.  The offer was rejected out of hand by the late Olly Croft who referenced his view of Hearn’s, inflated ego and perceived self-importance.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The ODC was introduced to Hearn by John Part at a heavyweight title boxing match in Las Vegas.  Hearn acted as if he had known the ODC for years.  Later encounter’s found Hearn exactly the same even though he probably had no idea who the heck this plump guy with the dyed hair and flowered shirt was.  It probably helped that the ODC was always close to a pretty girl.  That always helped the ODC, especially his ego.

James Wade has been on tour longer than anyone still playing in the PDC.  He was asked if he had any concerns with Hearn leaving.  Of course, I have concerns.  We don’t know what way things are going to go.  Without Barry we’d still be playing in smoky halls and saloons. 

Not that he needs the ODC’s Seal of Approval, but Eddie Hearn has done an outstanding job with Matchroom Boxing during the Covid-19 disaster.  Darters should be pleased that Mathew Porter will still be involved in the PDC.  Matt is another of the good guys who don’t fall far from the good guy tree of Barry Hearn.

Eddie Hearn has grown his sport while other boxing people have walked around with their hand out looking for sympathy.  Hearn has grown his promotion company to be the best in boxing with tentacles reaching worldwide.  Eddie’s latest coup was making the match between heavyweights Anthony Joseph and Tyson Furry.  The boxers will make $75 million with the fight to take place in the Middle East.

Don’t bet a farthing that darts won’t soon be part of the Middle East landscape.  During his announcement, Barry Hearn made the point that the new team in place would be better able than he to move forward in meeting new challenges.  While he will still oversee things one concept will act as a predictable roadmap:  Hearn’s motto of priorities: sport, players and profit, in that order.

As the world moves at warp speed what those new adventures or challenges will be is the question.  As the ODC once predicted, one of those challenges will be to enter the North American market with some force.

The ODC was wrong when he predicted it might be possible that the PDC would buy the American Darts Organization.  A source not authorized to speak on the subject has told the ODC that under no circumstances does the PDC have any interest in buying the ADO.  Instead, they have an interest in buying an American company.   (Before jumping to any conclusion, that company might well have nothing to do with darts.  Ponder that.)

Barry Hearn has always been a man of his word, which is a 180-degree contrast from others that ruled darts over the years, whether locally or internationally.  Past “rulers” required the peasants to bow and kiss their rings.  They were ego driven, of little talent whose priorities were Me, Me and Me.   That wasn’t Barry Hearn’s way nor those that succeed him.  They learned the right way to be successful.

There’s a canard: “Be a good guy.”

The first tweet Barry got upon his announcement was from his son Eddie.  It was sent from the head office and simply stated “Nando’s for everyone.”  There’s a man with vision.

AND out of the month of babes: In the Premier League Gary Anderson came off a 7-5 win over now relegated Rob Cross.  Meeting the press, he was asked about his next day match with Michael van Gerwen…  

It’s a good time to play me.  I’m absolutely rotten but Michael is the same.  We’re both terrible.  They drew at 6.

Stay thirsty my friends.