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Anorak | Far From Oche

Far From Oche

by | 4th, January 2007

Ashes to ashes and darts to Holland…

“GODS of the game, super-beings of darts, commanders who would make Napoleon look like a private.”

Sid Waddell, the voice of darts, the man who famously surmised his beloved sport in “one word”: “magic darts.”

The PDC Ladbrokes.com world title was trailed as a ferocious battle. Words could not do it justice. But Waddell had a go. Looking on as Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor took aim, Waddell called his early performance “pulverisational”.

Englishman Taylor, 13 times a world beater, would not lose to four-times world champion Ray ‘Barney’ Barneveld, the Dutchman who used to deliver post.

An Englishman always wins the darts. Occasionally the spoils are split around the British Isles and a Scotsman takes the spoils.

Taylor, dressed in a voluminous moo-moo, could not fail. He was winning. And then it went wrong. Waterloo. Barneveld wins 7 sets to 6.

But Taylor is phlegmatic. Says he: “Phil Taylor is just a pile of ashes at the moment. Well, at least I didn’t lose 5-0.”

Jokes as well. And poignancy. It takes a special kind of performance to be so rigorously thrashed as England’s timid cricketers have been in Australia.

But like the Ashes, the darts cup is on its way overseas. Both branches of world darts – the PDC and the lesser BDO – are now in Dutch hands, spoils to Barneveld and Jelle Klaasen, respectively.

The fight is on for England to win them back. But where are the young bucks? Where is the steely-eyed Ricky Ponting bristling with indignation, desperate not just to win back the crown but annihilate the opposition?

Taylor knows. “South, Africa, Japan and China,” says he, “all those countries are mad on darts. I have noticed the difference. They make us look like amateurs in the way they prepare.”

How much lager can you drink? “In Japan, China, Malaysia, these kids are doing six of seven hours a day – and it’s frightening.”

Can it be that the exotic splendour of the Circus Tavern in Purfleet will become darts’ Wimbledon, a British sporting mecca where Brits propped up on HRT and hooch cheer and foreigners take the prizes? Will British dartists be saddled with the cruellest of all sporting epitaphs: “plucky”? Is Bobby George just Tim Henman with gold teeth?

The nation is in the sporting mire. Barneveld has noticed. Says he: “Well, the Dutch rugby team is c**p, we could always send them over her to play you!”

Please don’t…



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