Author Archives: Howie Reed


Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Column HR325

A story appeared in The News Shopper (Lewisham) in the year 1991 about the monthly singles darts at the Sydney Arms of London.  The Governor?  One Roger Nickson.  Nickson arguably had as much, if not more, impact on London darts than anybody – and he has never been one to boast to the world how great he was. If you’re good people know it.  His pubs (Morning Star, Cricketers and Sydney Arms) were home to some if the best players in England.

The story reports, we could have seen the emergence of yet another high clash teenager.  Peter Wright, from Woolwich, playing in his first ever tournament, took all the entrants to task and evenly beat the class of Roy Regan in a see-saw final 4-3.

Regan passed on some years ago.  Some claim this was due to his playing doubles and league games with the Old Dart Coach in Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

In the coming days the past and present will collide. The PDC Masters, running January 28-30, arrives in Milton Keys.  No longer a teenager, a little longer in the tooth, now painted up like Crusty the Clown, a world champion and a favorite to win the PDC’s first major is that “high clash teen ager” Peter Wright.   From the old Virginia Slims tennis tour, “You’ve come a long way baby.”

Expect #1 seed Gerwyn Price to play Jonny Clayton in the round of 8 before meeting James Wade in the semifinals. #2 Wright is on the other side of the draw with a slightly easier path to the final four.  At the juncture of 8 he’ll have to beat either slightly off form Michael van Gerwen or erratic Gary Andersen. The ODC would pick Price as the likely winner after his heartbreaking loss in the World Championships where match darts went array.

Then, February 3-6, the first event of the 2022 World Seniors Dart Tour takes to the stage at the Circus Tavern – fabled in the dart history of the PDC as the site of the PDC World Championships from 1994 until 2007.  The 2007 final involved Phil Taylor against Raymond van Barneveld.  van Barneveld was the King of the BDO as one of those who chose not to join the PDC.

In 2006, van Barneveld jumped ship joining the PDC.  His critics claimed he became a world champion playing against inferior BDO talent.  They were forced to eat their words – like Mr. Lector, possibly with fava beans, a nice Chianti and (knowing the English) maybe lots of ketchup or A1…

Starting from scratch in the rankings, by the end of the year Barney was number #2 behind Phil Taylor.  At the 2007 Championship, Taylor was giving him a right proper hiding 3 -nil.  Barney made a remarkable comeback, tying at 6 sets to force a sudden death leg.  Barney would win breaking a streak of 11 world championship on the trot for Taylor.

Will Barney and Taylor meet in the 2022 Senior World Championships?  No way Jose’ as Barney has rejoined the PDC.  But what a story that would make.  The Circus would be jammed to capacity at 1,100.

Although for North American fans the matchups make little difference.  Finding a stream in North America is slightly harder than Chinese Arithmetic.  The ODC contacted players entered in regard to viewing. One answered, “It’s on BBC IPlayer via VPN.” The ODC went to that sight but gave up, deciding to continue his easier quest to “understand the female thought process.”

Another entrant went the extra step.  “Spoke with the organizer – he says, no interest in USA.”  American translation?  “Piss Off Yanks.”  The person added, “Maybe Mr. Hearn realized they missed out.”  Maybe true…

Had they booked this event it would give them more product for PDC-TV, a big plus.  On the other hand, the PDC has said “Piss Off” to North America for a long time.

The “random” draw would seem to favor Phil Taylor, Mr. John Lowe, Bob Anderson or either John Part or Keith Deller.  For others?  A drink before and a cigarette after.   Take the words “random draw” with a grain of salt, a shot of 1800 and a lime.

Taylor should breeze until the round of 4, if he gets by Peter “One Dart” Manley who should dispatch an injured Deta “The Queen” Hedman in round one.  Taylor has a lot of pride, so he’ll be primed and ready.  For him this is not a one off at the local, a Monday afternoon pie and chips included.

The death quadrant has Mr. John Lowe meting Bob Anderson in the round of 8.  That assumes that Mr. Lowe will take out Paul Lim or qualifier Dave Prins.  Lim, who has played Mr. Lowe numerous times, could win his opener.  Should Lim advance he could give Mr. Lowe, the oldest gentleman in the event, a run for the money.  Lim at a mere 68, (Happy Birthday!) is second oldest.

John Part has the draw to reach the round of 8 with his current form standing in the way.  His Tour Card Qualifier was substandard.   JP would say, “an understatement.”   A turnaround is necessary.  John Walton or Wayne Warren with the win to play Part.  The other side favors either Terry Jenkins or Roland Scholten who meet in round 1.  That winner would play Lisa Ashton who became available when she failed to win a tour card.

Keith Deller, who became a world champion in 1983 with the “now famous” 138-check after Eric Bristow passed up a shot at the bull for the title, has the draw but his level of darts is questionable.  Like many of the seniors he has been out of competitive darts for a long time.  If Larry Butler (recent Chicago Dart Players Champ) gets by Alan Warner-Little he could take it to Deller sending him home straight away.

After some 950 words, the conclusion is the ODC has no idea who will win the first Seniors event.  Common sense has stepped in so the ODC, aka Captain Oblivious, will suggest that none of those mentioned as getting “mother-in-law draws” will win.  Like the Senior Golf Tour there’s someone who has gotten better while the competition has declined.  Is there’s a Bernhard Langer lurking out there?

The ODC does know he was right when he said, “Behind every successful women stands a good man.” Fallon Sherrock validated his opinion when she posted, partner Cameron Menzies – he is so supportive.  It is quite nice to have someone who is willing to help.  I haven’t had the support since everything happened.  I can chill out.

(Editor’s note: the ODC is temporarily in the Witness Protection Program.)

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR324 TRUE STUFF from the ADO Nationals in Vegas!

Wednesday, January 20, 2022
Column HR324
TRUE STUFF from the ADO Nationals in Vegas!

It’s the Old Dart Coach’s theory that the easiest job in the world is forecasting the weather in Las Vegas – summer is hot, fall not so hot and winter almost not hot.

With recent criticism the ODC’s fragile ego has taken another a hit.  Maybe a career change to a weather person in Las Vegas is in order – with a nom de plume of either Stormy Weather of Sunny Skies.

For the highly anticipated ADO National Singles Championships the atmosphere was warm and sunny inside the Las Vegas’ Tuscany Hotel/Casino.  (Yes, you can tell where this column is going.)

Kevin Luke took the ’01 title with a 6-2 win over Mike Neubert.  Luke would reach the final with a 5-2 victory over Larry “The Eagle” Butler.  The men’s singles cricket field ran into an indoor storm in the person of one Elliot Milk who went 8-0 in his final two matches which included a Snyder of Jay Waugh in the final.  Milk was hotter that a July 4th on the Las Vegas strip.

The ladies National Championship turned into a private party with five invites covering the final four in both events.  Cali “Went” West would take the ’01 title, eliminating Marlise Kiel 5-2.  West reached the final with a 4-0 whitewash of Debbie “Poison” Ivy.   One of the invited 5 was Sandy “My dad owned a” Hudson who replaced Marlise Kiel in the final four.  Paula Murphy would welcome Hudson to the final with a 4-0 fun final – although not for Hudson.

The “Titian Tornado,” Ms. Paula Murphy, would have a sunny weekend in Vegas.  Along with partner Dani Warmack she would finish runner-up in the Cricket pairs to Julie Weger-Stacey Pace.  Ms. Murphy and Ms. Warmack would get a measure of payback (which we know is a bitch) when they won the women’s ’01 doubles taking a 2-1 victory over Weger-Pace.  Up 1-0 Weger-Pace found themselves at double 1.  Like beginning players, they treated the d1 like “looking for a needle in a haystack.” Murphy would win the “regular women’s cricket” 2-1 over Shea Cole.

Julie Weger had a good weekend as she won the ADO/WDF singles 5-4 over an unlucky Shea Cole.  Unlucky?  Cole earned some money to gamble but she finished runner-up in the mixed triples.  Could she be called “Second Place Shea”?  Only by Captain Obvious.

The skies were bright all weekend for the men as they vied for $22,000 of the $36,000 dollar prize fund (or as was once printed on a poster for the Thailand Open: “Price Fund.”

Jim Widmayer just seems to just get better – as he took out former mailman Gary Mawson 6-4 to annex the ’01 singles.  Kevin “Cool Hand” Luke, a double winner, would add the men’s Cricket singles to his National ’01 title with a 2-0 win over Shawn Brenneman.

Larry “The Eagle” Butler had himself a couple of days at the beach as, with partner Alex Spellman, he would win both Cricket and ’01 Open doubles.  They dropped nary a leg in either final. The Open Doubles victims were Dustin Holt and Chris Lim – and Joseph Chaney and Jason Brandon drew the Cricket “goose egg.”

In addition to cashing some checks, Butler was invited to compete in the World Seniors Darts Championship February 3-6 at the fabled Circus Tavern in Essex.  Fly Eagle!

Little did “Chainsaw” Chaney and Jason “Let’s Go” Brandon, after losing the final in the first event, know what the weekend would portend – nothing but blue skies for Chainsaw.  With Sandy Hass and “Let’s Go” he’d would win the mixed triples then with Ms. Hass the mixed doubles.  The mixed doubles win came with an asterisk as the opponents, Tracy Feiertag and Colm Neilson, had to forfeit as they “beat fleet” catching a plane to leave Las Vegas.

Rushing to catch a flight and thereby missing a final brings up the eternal problem of dart tournaments running late…

The ODC hired the law firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe (DCH) to run the numbers after a personal inquiry on entries came up short.  A person not authorized to speak said, “The numbers are down but considering Covid it’s a good crowd.”  Using published figures DCH concluded that the tournament might have made some money on entries.  They deserve it.  If profitable workers could sue claiming they made less than minimum wage they’d win in a walk.

The drop in attendance certainly came from the dearth of non-North American entries – just a couple from England, one from Germany, a pair from the Philippines and a lone lady from Mongolia.

In an attempt to find out about Ms. Erdenechimeg Dondov the ODC contacted a person who could speak for the tournament.  “She is from Mongolia and is here every year.  She has been pretty high in the World Rankings.”

The ODC uses the President Reagan motto “trust but verify.”  He found out that Ms. Dondov is actually raked #104 in current WDF rankings.  When informed of this fact the “person who can speak” replied “She was before Covid.”  Yes, things were different.  Ms. Dondov would make it to the ’01 semifinals, losing to Shea Cole 5-4.

As is obvious, the ODC loves names and nicknames.  They bring out the sun in his life.  One Yank male entrant was named Chip Dick which could be a course of study in a medical college.  If the ODC’s last name was Dick, he would never name an off spring Chip or Rocky.

The Philippine’s lady darter had a great name.  Dimple Ranches could also be a neighbor to the famed Yellowstone Ranch of current TV popularity.  Now if Chip and Dimple were to marry her ranch would be called Dimple Dick Ranch.  Expanding her acreage would lead to…

Questions answered before they’re asked:

There is a law firm named Dewey, Cheatem and Howe (which was not hired by the ODC).  They owned a trotting horse named Deweycheatumnhowe.  The horse was a champion on the track and no slouch in the breeding barn as he covered 140 mates in year one.

Yes, the ODC’s dad did own a Hudson automobile from 1938-54.  The Hudson Company produced cars from 1909-1954.  When they sold to Nash, su Padre abandoned his Hudson for the worst Oldsmobile ever made.

And the ODC did not make up the names for weather persons Stormy Weather or Sunny Skies.  In fact, they’re real people who are practitioners of the terpsichorean art at various exclusive venues in Las Vegas.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR323 NO DRESS CODE!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Column HR323

Before diving headfirst into 2022, a few items to clean up…

The PDC announced that Cazoo will now sponsor not only the World Championships but also the UK Open, Players Championship Finals and Masters.  The ODC is over the moon.

He can write:

How is your mother, how is your father, how is your sister Sue? 

How is your granny, how is your fanny, how is your old Wazoo?  

Simple pleasures are the best.

For the first time in fading memory the ODC can pick only a single “surprise” at the World Championships.  In years past, players have come from nowhere to make a mark that announces, “I’m here!”  One such player was England’s Callan Rydz.  He started with a 3-0 win over a “wise guy pick” Brendan Dolan 3-0 – dominating with an average of 102.73, winning legs 9-3.

Next out was Nathan Aspinall 4-0 (12-5) with a spiffy 98.35 average followed by a 4-1 (11-4) dusting of Alan Soutar.

Rydz would lose to eventual winner Peter Wright 5-4 with both wining 16 legs. For the tournament, Rydz won in sets 16-5 and legs 40-27.  An outstanding performance.

Sometimes the devil takes control of the ODC.  In the original PDC published draw the “Fem Fatal” Fallon Sherrock was to play the winner between Kim Huybrechts and Steve Beaton.  Then, as if by “Ollie Magic,” Ms. Sherrock was set to play Steve Beaton.  A beginner would recognize an easier draw for Sherrock.  Beaton would win 3-2.  Beaton would then play Huybrechts losing 3-1.  To quote Sid Waddell, “Darts is a funny ole game.”

In the same vein, none of the “retreats,” all promising a “new attitude,” did anything but what was expected.  Raymond van Barneveld, a little svelte, is still unable to operate with any degree of success when under the “cosh.” Cosh?  “A thick heavy stick or bar used as a weapon” – or a needed double or treble.  Barney went down to Rob Cross 3-1.  Adrian Lewis folded like a cheap suit in the rain when after taking the first set against Gary Anderson 3-2, then went down 3-1.  A sorry performance which dictates playing lunch services.

One of the biggest American Darts Organization tournaments will either go on or not from January 13-16 in Las Vegas.  The goings-on will kick off January 13-14 with the ADO national 501 and Cricket singles championships.  Nice for the tournament to have all those contestants at their event.  Not only will the always valuable ADO points be available in the singles but also the “less valuable than they appear” WDF points.  “Less than they appear” as North Americans get zero, zip, nada out of those points.

A nod to yank Jules van Dongen, aka The Dutch Dragon, who currently sits 5th in the WDF rankings. That placing is due to wins in the Seacoast and Charlotte Open.  At press time van Dongen is playing in the PDC Euro qualifying.  Should he get a tour card the WDF will be left in the rear view mirror.

The World Darts Organization is the organization that “represents” amateur darters.  There may be some disagreement with the term “amateur.” For the ladies it’s their only opportunity as the PDC avoids the ladies, but for a chosen few (like a darter does double 1).  The PDC had 650 vying for full Tour cards.  The finals start on January 12th.  Among those still alive are Leonard Gates, Danny Lauby and Jacob Taylor.

Checking on the Las Vegas Open ’01 singles, there is a $4 surcharge included in the $30 entry fee.  The women are paid down to 16 with the men to top 32.  Reaching those levels produces a slight profit (which not drinking during match might help).

Credit to the Tournament owners as they published the surcharges which some others don’t.  $2 of the entry is for the ADO which is okay for an organization – although the ADO is in shambles.  The $2 surcharge for the WDF is a bad joke.  In an era when American steel darts is at an all-time low this makes as much sense as “feeding a jackass creampuffs.”  Waste of time, money and effort.

The Las Vegas Open WDF/ADO ‘01 singles come with special rules.  Players are not permitted to wear shorts or jeans.  Neither are tennis shoes permitted.  No headgear is allowed.  There shall be no drinking DURING matches.  Before or after is fine, just not during.”

If perchance, although unlikely, North American dart players are unhappy with the state of darts they have no one to blame but themselves.  Players have been “led” by incompetence, which they have allowed by sitting on their fat backsides, whining and consuming pints of aiming fluid.  They left the fight to others.  Shame on them.

Most of the revolutionary dart leaders of the past have given up when met by the indifference.  If there were any “againners” still out there this is what would happen on Saturday at the Tuscany Casino in Las Vegas…

A very polite dart player, no gender preference, would approach the entry desk of the Las Vegas Open to explain their desire to enter the ’01 singles.  “I will only pay $28 as I’m not a member of the World Dart Federation with absolutely no interest in their points.  I will be wearing tennis shoes and jeans while consuming all the aiming fluid and group tighter that is necessary to get the job done.”

Granted this would put undue pressure on the tournament organizers who have invested money.  They need entries to break even or maybe make a profit. Is this unfair?  Maybe, but to whom?

The professional players were labeled bad for darts, yet they spawned the PDC.  Regulations for dress and liquid consumption is a “grab your ankles procedure” to placate “critics” while doing not a darn thing for the sport.

What would really help is if more players dressed as they pleased, entered​ and played.  Serve your members not your egos.  It is their game.

Just a wild guess, but the entry person would politely decline a single entry explaining, “The rules are the same for everybody.”  The polite entrant would either acquiesce, pay the $30, change clothes – or retire to a round table with friends to morn a serious but unsuccessful effort.

Now, if that person were an old-time darts revolutionary (one person’s revolutionary is another person’s patriot), they would have answered the entry person as the great JK did to the late Eric Bristow…

This was in a Brisbane, Australia, hotel lobby just prior to the USA beating England 9-0 “PUAR.”  Then, the not polite person would take the escalator downstairs, stop at the sports book and bet on the soon to begin Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cincinnati “Ben Gals” football game – with the $30 saved from a non-entry…

They’d then sit at the bar and have a few beverages knowing that they have a 50% chance of winning their football bet – which is a lot better odds than entering the ’01 singles.  And, oh yes, there’s no dress code and drinking is encouraged.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR322 The snake BITES and pockets a cool half million (POUNDS!)

Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Column HR322
The snake BITES and pockets a cool half million (POUNDS!)

As Peter Wright lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy for the second time it marked the end of the 2022 PDC World Championship.  The words of Waddell, the articulate one, rang true.  “It’s a funny old game.”   Funny “peculiar” for some, funny “ha ha” for others and for many “not funny.”

The game of darts played at the highest level sometimes evolves a scenario that, were it a movie, no one would believe.  This tournament has good and evil, human interest with angles more complex than a megagon, stories of personal success and failure, comebacks from the jaws of defeat, tears of joy – and defeat, with the final salvo of “wait until next year.”

The final between Peter Wright and Michael Smith had everything, plus a little more.  For Wright it capped off a year that had him annexing three PDC TV majors – the World Matchplay, Players Championship and now the World Championship.  For Michael Smith it was yet another chance to erase the label of “can’t win the big one.”  In his 8th TV final Smith came out on the short end, unable to capitalize after coming from 2-3 down to 4-3 up.  The Dart God, aka Tungsten Tilly, can be and is a cruel mistress.  She takes great delight in offering her charms only to reconsider at the last minute.

One negative result of the final was that so many outstanding performances during the previous days were lost.  The Old Dart Coach, aka the Chalk Eating Weasel, tabbed Gerwyn Price’s to repeat as champion (after stating that “no champion repeats”).  Michael Smith eliminated Price in a contest where Price had a 9-darter while also missing 2-match darts.

What of Gary Anderson?  He’s the last back-to-back World Championship winner whose darts were way below his usual standard entering the Championships.  He reached the semi-finals, coming from 1-3 down to defeat a red-hot Rob Cross 4-3.  Anderson’s comeback saw him winning 11 legs on the trot and a 170-check. Anderson would fail to reach the final when Peter Wright averaged 104.38 added by an historic harvest of 15 T80s.

The ODC wrote, “James Wade has his moments but when down loses interest.”  The ODC apologizes to James for being stupid.  Wade fell behind Smith in the semis 5-1 in the race to 6.  He could have tossed in the towel but fought back to win 2 of the next 3.

With a 7-5 final score one can imagine that the Championship match itself had more twists and turns than an amorous encounter in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle…

The opening set was a precursor.  Wright won (3-1).  Smith’s winning first leg was in 28 darts thanks to Wright missing 13 doubles.  Wright would move up 2-1 with a 148 to break then a 124 (on the bull) to win.

Smith won his first set thanks to a 167 break along with 3 T80s.  Wright missed a T70 finish, then leveled with 117 as both held which gave Smith the set.

Smith would gain his second set to level at 2 after Wright missed 2 darts to break with a d10.

After the match, Wright spoke of the atmosphere in the venue that made his darts “not go like they should.”  Wright changed darts prior to the 5th set, which resulted in an opening T80 along with two legs on the trot. Smith answered with an 11-darter, then 65 to level. Wright prevailed for a 3-2 lead.

Wright’s lead would disappear when Smith, after losing the first leg, would take 3 on the trot and a 3-1 win with the finale leg a 13-darter.  Wright had switched back to his original darts to no avail with the match now “even Stephen.”

Smith continued to roll with a snyder (3-0) win in the 7th set when Wright ran into double trouble leading to a 4-3 deficient.

The eight set was one of “could ‘aves” in that Smith “could have” taken a 5-3 lead but for a couple of missed double tops and a bull.  Wright used 72-out for the set.

The 9th set was a missed opportunity for Wright as, with the throw, it was even after 4 when Wright missed 4 allowing Smith the steal the set and a 5-4 lead.

Wright was in danger of falling behind 6-4 when Smith followed a T80 with d15 to break, forcing Wright to break back – which he did to force the decider.  Trailing, Wright used a T80 to set up 84 which he erased to level the match again.

The 11th leg showed a noticeable change in Michael Smith.  His energy needle tilted towards Low while Wright’s steely-like countenance shined like a beacon.  Wright was masterful, taking 3 on the trot which included legs of 12- and 13-darts. Smith had a shot at the bull that went “a rye.” (Editor’s note: “a rye” is a measurement equal to approximately 2.5 acres.)

Leg 12 had the “flat lady preparing to sing” when a 12-darter broke Smith’s throw with an 81 bull finish. With Wright just one leg from victory Smith got a leg but was denied renewed life as Wright landed d8 for the win.

To the winner (7-5) go the spools – a nifty £500,000 which in real money (USD’s) is $673,778 and a meaningless 58 cents.  But the final score doesn’t reflect how close this match was…

Smith had the best average (99.22 to 98.34), threw more T80s (24-17) and had the highest check at 167 to 148.  Besides winning the war, Wright topped legs won 27-23 and check out average.  Post-match, Write mentioned to Smith that he should “practice doubles.” This was not an unkind statement.

Dart players everywhere might have some sympathy for Michael Smith.  He once again proved that “the big one” remains elusive.  He’s still “the best player never to win the worlds.” Only the Bully Boy can remove the tag.  The answer probably isn’t found on the practice board but on the couch of a sports psychologist. “Calling Doctor Batten.”

Peter “Snakebite” Wright may dress like a clown but there’s nothing funny about the way he mows down opponents like ten pins.  He’s an emotional man.  He feels for his competitors with the same professionalism that wills him to win.  His championship winning dart provided a restrained response.  There’s no doubt he was thrilled to win he also empathized with Smith’s plight, thinking “I’ve been there.”

Wright was both “good and evil” being good to win but evil to some by denying Smith a victory.  Both players came back on various occasions from the “jaws of defeat” with enough “tears of joy” and “defeat” for another Anne “Sleepy” Kramer tear-jerking novel like Cally’s Dream.  

The ODC was right that, “The winner will come from one of the 11 seeds.”  Captain Oblivious rules.

Stay thirsty my friends.


Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Column HR321

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!

Darters Storm the Palace!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Column HR320
Darters Storm the Palace!

Tomorrow at 7:00 pm Greenwich Mean Time (11:00 am Las Vegas time), a resplendent John McDonald will stride onto the stage, with microphone in hand, at the Alexander Palace.  (The Palace is situated between Wood Green and Muswell Hill in the London Borough of Haringey.)

When McDonald says, “Let’s Get This Party Started” the 2021-2022 PDC World Championship will be under way.

The PDC World Championship is a combination of sport, no-host cocktail party and dress up “do” spread from the end of 2021 (December 15) and the beginning of 2022.  It’s a multi-ring darting circus.  There will be millions of tales to tell with songs to be sung, mostly “Hey Baby” and “There’s Only One Phil Taylor.”

The reader may have noticed that (and wondered why) the Old Dart Coach inserted the names “Muswell Hill” and “circus” into the opening paragraphs.  He’s terribly clever and sneaky guy…

Muswell Hill was the home of the BDO from whence the World Championships sprang in 1978.  That year, the late Leighton Rees would best Mr. John Lowe 11 legs to 7 to win the princely sum of £10,500 (as Mr. Lowe banked £1,700). Could they have been splitting?  There is that chance.

This year the winner will take home £500,000.

Those championships were held in the Heart of the Midlands nightclub, then Jollees in Stroke before moving to the Lakeside in 1986.  When the players spilt in 1994 the PDC championship was held at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern in Essex.  The move to the Aly Pally came in 2008.  The BDO Championships left the Lakeside in 2020 for the O2 Arena in London, then went belly up.

The World Darts Federation returns to the Lakeside, taking over the BDO World Championship, now the WDF World Championship.  They kick off January 1 when Yank Leonard Gates plays the second match against Johnny Haines.  Day 1 also has both Darlene van Sleeuwen and Rory Hansen from “Oh Canada” in the spotlight.

America’s Paula Murphy takes the stage January 2 against Veronika Ihasz of Hungary and Kevin Luke faces Brit Steve Hine.  Also on Day 2, Canada’s David Cameron and Shawn Burttoeing toe the oche.

Deta “The Queen” Headman gets the #1 seed, bolstered by a win in the Czech Open and runner up to Anastasia Dobromyslova in the Irish Open. The ODC likes “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki, the two-time champion, to become a 3-time champion, collecting £25,000.

One of the most memorable World Championship moments came in 1983.  Qualifier Keith Deller snatched victory from the hands of defeat against Eric Bristow.  Deller had beaten #3 Jocky Wilson and #2 Mr. John Lowe.  The final was level at 5 sets and legs were even in the decider.  Bristow passed up a dart at the bull to win and instead tossed 16 to leave 32. Deller wanted 138.  Piece of cake – T20, T18, d12.  “Thank you, sign my card, I win,” could have said Deller.

Fallon Sherrock became the “Queen of the Palace” for her pair of wins two years ago.  This year, she draws The Bronzed Adonis (Steve Beaton) whose year would have to improve to be terrible.  If a new Queen is crowned (ladies only – men optional) it would have to be Lisa Ashton – she’ll face #54 Ron Meulenkamp.  Ashton needs two wins to avoid Q School next year.

The original Queen of the Palace was the late Stacy Bromberg who in 2010 won the only PDC Women’s Championship 6-5 over Tricia Wright.  By far the King of the Palace and most everywhere else was Phil Taylor with 16 World Championships.  He had a runs of 8 and 5 on the trot, both broken by Canada’s John Part.

Being parochial, as the ODC can sometimes be: what is the possibility that a North American could emerge as King?

Zero.  Zip, Nada.

But they’ll give it the old college try.

Canada’s Matt Campbell faces two-time champion, #35 Adrian Lewis, whose stock has fallen faster than President Biden’s approval rating.  Oche Puck Jeff Smith gets #34 Ross Smith in a battle of the Smiths.  While Ross Smith has one Player’s Championship win this year, a win for Jeff Smith is in the cards.  Yank Danny Lauby draws the always tough William O’Conner who always impresses during World Cup then fades.  He’ll be favored as he made the last 64 last year but one’s got to like Danny for the upset.

No World Championship would be complete without Leong Hwa (aka Paul Lim) – as he makes his 25th visit.  His best result was a second round loss to runner-up Gary Anderson in 2018.  Lim drew #95 Joe Murnan of Bolton.  Murnan has had a so-so year without a win with only one top 16 in a Players Championship.  A Lim win would put him in the second round against Nathan Aspinall, the #10 seed.  Don’t bet against the “ageless wonder” as he marches on leading Lim’s Legions.

Predicting a winner at the Ally Pally should begin, so it will…

…by eliminating last year’s champion – as no one has repeated since “Gary Gary” Anderson in 2016 (Anderson also has two runner ups in 2017 and 2021, losing both times 7-3).

“The winner will come from one of the 11 seeds,” writes Captain Oblivious…

Toss out #3 seed Michael van Gerwen (4-1) who lately has chocked more times than Debbie when she did Dallas.

#4 James Wade has his moments but when down loses interest.

Eliminate any player not a POM.

#5 Dimitri van der Bergh is out as no “farang” has won the World Championship since John Part in 2008 (Simon Whitlock was runner up in 2010).

It would be fun to tout “The Special One,” #7 José de Sousa, except for the “POM only rule.”

It’s a well-known fact that the ODC goes where angels fear to tread.  He’s also called a “chalk eating weasel” like his pal Slopes for betting on favorites.

He’s predicting the final four will be Gerwyn Price (7/2), Peter Wright (6/1), Johnny Clayton (6-1) and Gary Anderson (25-1).

Fortunately, the ODC doesn’t listen to his own advice so is touting Gerwyn Price to repeat as the PDC World Champion.  He will have his way with Jonny Clayton who starts fast, then fades after the second break.  Peter Wright will start slow against Clayton, losing but still collecting £100,000 as will Gary Anderson when he starts slow against Gerwyn Price, then tappers off with a “kick ass” loss.

How good is the ODC at predicting winners?  Well, he took the Axis and points in World War II.  And predicted a win for Lewis Hamilton with one lap left at the most recent Formula 1 Grand Prix.  Just saying.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR319 American Royal Darts Family loses a Prince… PDC finds a Queen

Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Column HR319
American Royal Darts Family loses a Prince… PDC finds a Queen

Yes, the Old Dart Coach has been absent while celebrating Thanksgiving here in the Colonies.  The guess is that the same holiday is celebrated in the UK but for a different reason.  We celebrate for the bountiful glories of the life in the USA (Editor’s note: It’s an old holiday and traditions die hard.)

In the UK they celebrate giving the “Heave Ho” to us.

Darts players should be giving thanks to the PDC and the £1.5 million that was deposited into player’s pockets in just the past few weeks.  As the late US Senator from Illinois, Everett McKinley Dirksen, once said, “a hundred thousand here and a hundred thousand there… pretty soon you have real money.”

In less than 10 days Peter “Snakebite” Wright went from “Good Golly, Ms. Molly” to “Let the Good Times Roll.” The darting experts were pontificating upon the fact that Wright was yesterday’s news.  In essence they were proclaiming that Wright, at an advanced age of 51, was facing the situation where the “sand had run out of his darting hourglass.”  NO snarking comments about the sand settling just above his waistline.  NOT allowed.

In the Cazoo Grand Slam Wright wasn’t the star even though he finished second to winner Gerwyn Price – who bagged his third Grand Slam of Darts title.  Price won the title with a convincing 16-8 triumph over Wright.  One would think that Price with his impressive display would be the star of the show.  “Nay!  Nay!” yell the multitudes.  The star of the event was a 27-year-old lady from Milton Keynes – Ms. Fallon Sherrock.

The PDC chooses to call her the Queen of the Palace for her play in last year’s PDC World Championships at the Ally Pally.  The ODC, because this is his column and he can do most anything he damn well pleases, calls her the Femme Fatale.  That term is sometimes used to describe “a maneater or vamp, beautiful, and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers.” Ms. Sherrock uses her darting ability and grace to force darters to say, “I played well but Fallon played better.”  Her performance at the Grand Slam stole the show.

The Grand Slam is unique – aside of the £550,000 available with £125,000 to the winner, like the Mafia every player gets a “sniff.” There are four groups with two seeded players each joined by two others.  After round robin play the top two move on.  Those that don’t move on still collect £7,500 for 3rd in the group while 4th gets £4,000. A group winner collects an extra £3,500.  Every player gets an early Christmas present.

The group stage was played first to five or best of 9, whatever one chooses.  The format screamed out for drama with more escapes from death than “little Eva on the tracks with the train coming” thanks to Simon Legree.

Sherrock was featured in most.

In round one Sherrock took out youngster Mike De Decker 5-0.  Then, a loss followed by a must win against German giant Gabriel Clemens to advance and by 2 legs.

Sherrock started behind early, 3-1 in the race to 5, queuing the Fat Lady to lick her lips as she readied to sing.  With the cool nonchalant demeanor of a Mafia hitman, she used 12 darts followed by a 141 to level the score.  That was followed with a double top for a 4-3 lead.  In the decider, Clemens logged a T64 to leave a one dart double as Sherrock was entrenched at T70.  Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, like little Eva on the train tracks Ms. Sherrock made a miraculous escape!

When Sherrock was interviewed by a gushing female “reporter” (the term reporter is questionable) who asked, “How did you did you do it?” the ODC was praying for the following answer: “Well I hit triple 20, then another triple 20 and a double bull.”

Sherrock gave the standard, “I don’t even know how I did that.”

Next up, Sherrock faced Mensur Suljovic who she defeated in last year’s World Championship.  Suljovic took the first two legs in the race to 10.  After Sherrock used 11 darts, followed by a 124-check to draw level she never looked back as Suljovic developed a case of the “whips and jingles,” losing 10-5.

The quarters finals found Sherrock against an in-form Peter Wright.  She would take 3 of the first four legs when Wright woke up.  It was close the entire match and Sherrock actually had a chance to level at 14 when Wright took out 115, then one more for the 16-13 win. During the match Wright had 14 180s, averaged 100.33 with runs of 11, ten and 11 darts.

Dear dart writer: please stop referring to Fallon Sherrock as a “lady dater.” She is a “Dart Player.”

Gerwyn Price was in fine fettle as he opened a large can of “WA,” defeating Peter Wright 16-8 in a match that wasn’t that close. At 4-3 Price, Wright was as close as he would ever get.  Price averaged 103 and a meaningless .90 for which he collected £128,500.  The Grand Slam begat the Ladbrokes Players Championship.

This time Peter Wright had the stage all to himself.  He reached the final after defeating Michael van Gerwen and Johnny Layton by scores of 10-6 and 11-6.  van Gerwen does seem to be “off the boil” – combating head games, which is never good.

In the final Weight faced one of the ODC’s new favorites in Ryan Searle.  Searle, built like a lumber jack with long flowing hair, has a throw as smooth as a baby’s bottom.  He does have a problem in that he can’t see too well which would indicate that maybe he should play with a seeing eye dog.

To reach the final Searle won a nail biter against Daryl Gurney 10-9, followed by an easy 11-6 win over a very in on form Brendan Dolan.

Wright would win 11-10 but almost gave it away at 10-9 when he busted 124.  Next up, he had one dart to finish 124 again but missed the double.  Searle accepted the gift to level at 10.  Weight started the final leg with T80 then whittled down the score until he was at 62.  Searle applied the pressure with a T74 to leave 24.  Wright nailed a d16 for the title.

The American darting scene lost one of its best on Saturday.  Just days after his 53rd birthday, Timmy Nicoll succumbed to the ravages of pancreatic cancer after a long hard battle – nothing less than such a courageous battle would have been expected by anyone that faced him on the dart board.  Chainsaw Joe Cheney wrote, “Timmy is absolutely hands down my favorite person I’ve ever met.”

From John Part, “America’s darts royal family lost a prince and crown jewel this past weekend.  A mix of talent, tenacity and heart, Timmy Nicoll not only left us his great example, but a smile that shines eternal.  RIP.”

Tip a cold one for Timmy.

Stay thirsty my friends.