Monday, 29 December 2014

My 2014 year in review

2014 year in review Date started: 13/08/2013 180’s 3 Highest out: 125 (25,60,d20) December 2014 Highest average recorded: 93 (July 2014) Duration playing darts at end of year: 1 year, 4 month 18 days Best Result: Summer League mixed Doubles final 2014 Summary: This was my first full year of darts having first picked up the darts in August 2013. January: I started the year playing my first tournament in January, which was a complete debacle. A total novice I naively expected a mixed standard. I was wrong. It was a who’s who of County, and local BDO/PDC players. I drew in my round robin the County number 1, 3 and youth champion. In my first match I went up, hit 0 and then got whitewashed in my 3 matches (taking 1 leg out of 10). It was a demoralising experience, not helped by the fact that it was held in a pub that made the one from the tv series ‘shameless’ look like a kids creche, and no one spoke to me or my son for the whole day. Later in the month I joined the local darts team just down the road, having a ‘trial’ 3 matches which I won (beating their top player who was 9-1 in the league that season) February: A bad month as I realised just what my ‘new’ team mates were like. Despite beating them all repeatedly pre-league match, I was either not picked or told to attend matches mid-week only to be dropped pre-match (at the last minute and having driven 30 miles from work) when a family member/friend/ex player turned up. I was basically told I couldn’t really play darts and that I was ranked 10th out of 10 in the team (despite having beat all of them repeatedly). Bottom line is I lost my temper, and left. March: Attended a great ‘legends’ night in Dorset. Got VIP tickets and was able to spend an hour (pre-show) with Deller, Bristow, Lowe and Fordham. It was a great night, all were on good form, and got to have a throw with Deller and Lowe. April: I joined a new team (a little bit further away) and ironically it was the pubs ‘pre-season’ tournament. I was invited to play and got through to the final losing 2-3. The team mates were a lot friendlier and nicer than the other team and more family like. May: Got the final of the Summer League’s mixed doubles cup. This was a great result as the line-up was full of County players (and some BDO players). Went to an exhibition with Bobby George and Bob Anderson in Winchester. It was a great evening. Anderson was a true gent and George was pure class. George took the time to have a half hour chat with me and my son and was the nicest guy you could meet. June: Picked up my first league singles win July: I played the local summer tournament which I had heard always attracted some decent names as there was £500 prize money for the winner. It was a scorching hot day and amongst the well-known players in attendance were: Dennis ‘Smiffy’ Smith (PDC no 51) Andy ‘Rocky’ Jenkins (PDC no 53) Arron Monk (PDC 44) Johnny Haines (PDC 58) Sam Head (BDO no 44) Paul Hogan (BDO no 98) Gary Stafford (BDO 27) Mike Gillet (BDO 113) I was the worst player by a mile, however it was assumed that if you were attending ‘this’ event then you must at least be some kind of player. I drew a very highly regarded player in my match and hit a perfect bullseye to start but was outclassed 3-0. To be fair I was hitting 60’s and 80’s and my performance would have been enough to see off 90% of the players in my league (league 2), however my opponent was getting 100’s and 140’s and so I lost as he hit 3 100+ checkouts. As a result I ended up chalking twice (badly) for Arron Monk who to be fair was a total gent. On the last match in July I had my best performance to date (using 14g Hankey’s), when I hit a 15 darter and averaged 93 in the third and deciding leg against my opponent leaving him stunned and still on 300 when I checked out. It was incredible the whole pub was watching and I got a massive cheer when I won. You don’t normally see that standard of darts in this league and I hit the ultimate purple patch August: Went to a Bristow exhibition and got to play the great man himself. I had swapped to 22g Bristow’s and lost when I missed 9 darts at d13. As I walked by Bristow mumbled “should of won that” to me. Bristow was in decent form that night and won 14 of 16 against good players. Nerves got to me but I got to play the great man himself, enough said. September: On the last game of the season I was on last in the decider to see where the team would place. I was imperious this night winning 2-0 and both times leaving my opponent in the 200’s. We leapfrogged our opponents and the team had their best Summer finish. Overall it was a great way to end the season and for a guy who supposedly couldn’t play darts. I finished my season with 4 wins in 6 singles games for a 67% win record, 3 wins in 6 doubles matches for a 50% win ratio and 3 wins in 5 doubles cup games for a 60% win ratio (including getting to the final). Not bad for a novice darts player who joined the team after 8 months of playing and was frequently changing his setup Towards the end of the month I went to what was advertised as an exhibition with Dennis Priestley. Unfortunately it turned out to be a team’s ‘awards’ night, where my son and I were total strangers and Priestley was basically isolated by the team and no one else had a look in to get near him. Not the most welcoming of people, I was basically told there was no chance of anyone other than the team playing him and that was it. I got a quick pic with ‘The Menace’ and left. October: I only played 1 match in October as unfortunately I had some personal issues and this was exasperated by my team mates. I hadn’t lost a match since Bristow in August, however we played a match which started late and my team mates had had a few too many and had also decided to sit right next to the match board. I was on 1-0 having won the leg comfortable however my over excited team mates decided to cheer encouragement when I was on a double twice as I threw which caused me to lose the leg. It was now 1-1 and I was so angry that I blew the second leg as I again allowed them calling out to bother me. I again lost on the double. I was so angry I didn’t play for the rest of the month November: The team had lost the first 4 games and were playing the undefeated top team (4-0 and coming off a 9-0 win) when I was asked to return. I returned and won 2-1 hitting a few tonnes as we won 5-4 for the biggest shock of the season. December: Hit my highest checkout to date in a competitive setting nailing a 125 (25-T20-d20), Hit third 180 of the year. Finished the year with a total of 6 singles win in 12 for a 50% win ratio. Overall I am happy with my first full year of play I wrote in my plan for 2014 as per my review of 2013: Qualify and win the BDO worlds…………..only kidding! Ideally due to my dart playing career being in its infancy I would just like to improve on 2013. If I could repress my urge to constantly switch darts, get my darts average to 58 p3d, score over 2 180’s and pick up even a 1st round win in the local tourneys that would be a good year for me. I am pleased to say that I have achieved my goals. 1. I hit more 180’s, 2. I hit a 93 average in a match 3. I got to the final (albeit it mixed doubles) of the areas summer season cup. I have met 6 world champions (I would say 7 as I classify the NOTW in the 70’s as a World title for George), and barring Jocky Wilson I have now met every world champion from 1980-1993 (met Taylor in December 2013) in Bristow, Lowe, Deller, Fordham, Priestley, Bobby George, and Bob Anderson The only thing I didn’t succeed in was in keeping to the same set of darts as I used: 26g Barney Grandslams, 26G Barney WC, 24g/26g/22g Whitlocks (old and new version), 48g Bunker Busters, 31g Leighton Rees, 26g Winmau Testaments, 22g,23g,26g Andy Fordhams (old and new versions), 19g mark Websters(Brass), 19g Harrows Assassins, 26g Bristows Brass, 19g Peter Manley’s (original), 22g/24g John Lowes, 23g Winmau Dellers, 21g Target Dellers (old version), 19g/16g/22g Priestleys, 19g unknown Harrows, 26g Nodor Brass, 14g/26g Hankey’s, 10g Microlites, 26g Taylor Phase 1, 26g Phase 5’s, 31g Designa Bullies, 26G van Der Voorts (old version), 12g no name’s, Dartzone 26g Dolan copies, 22/24g Steve Beatons (old and new version), 15g no name brass, 28g knurled Bristow copies, 22G Bristow knurled, 26g Mervin Kings, 26g Target O’Shea’s That’s 40 different sets used in 2014. This is a ridiculous number. And no doubt has impeded my progress. 2014 was a great learning curve and I have accepted that darts is about the ‘long haul’. In every match I have played I have been the least experience by anywhere up to 40+ years, so to even get a result against some of the players in my league would be considered a bonus.You can’t (unless totally gifted) start hitting 180’s and averaging 95+ in your first year and you will lose (when I lost I wanted to behave like a baby. Throw my darts in the bin and jack in, however I have now learnt that losing is part of the game. Don’t like it but it’s inevitable and the important thing is how you come back from it). At times I put way too much pressure on myself and wasn’t enjoying it at all which is stupid. I’d lose and inside it felt like I’d lost 11-0 in the world championship final. I’d be down for a few days, dwell on the result and then change darts. Totally silly for a novice pub player, the game should be enjoyed otherwise what’s the point (this isn’t how I earn my living for god’s sake) Plans for 2015: In 2015 my aim is 1. Stop swapping darts 2. Develop consistency, to get a ‘proper’ average of about 60 consistently 3. Enjoy the game 4. Play some more tournaments (result unimportant - just for experience) 5. Learn to chalk better

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Legends of Darts

My 2013 darts review

Date Started: 13/08/2013 180’s: 2 160: 1 Highest out: 100 (t60, s20, d10) Highest Ave (p3d): 55.5 (December 2013) Duration playing darts at year end: 4 months 19 days Summary: Well this has been my inaugural year playing darts. I started as I had been a peripheral fan for years but rarely watched it consistently. I had caught Wolfie against someone years ago, and had vague memories of Bristow, George and Fordham. I had caught the worlds in 2012 and had gotten into it as my father-in-law and brother-in-law were fans and I ended up seeing an exhibition held by modus in may 2013. It had the likes of Nicholson, MVG, Les Wallace, Van Der Voort etc and so I was hooked from then on, at least from a spectator point of view. I hurt my back in the July (re-aggravating a serious injury I sustained in 2009) and this caused me to call time on my bodybuilding and since I couldn’t return to boxing I thought it would be a good time to take darts up. I sold off all my bodybuilding equipment and converted my gym (a big summer house I had built at the end of my garden) into a darts room. I purchased an old Winmau masters with cupboard (later to be replaced by a Unicorn pro eclipse) and then set about choosing a set of darts. Oh boy did this open a can of worms. In the first week I had purchased: Hankeys 24g Red Dragon hellfire D 26g McCoy Phase 5 copies 26g Whitlock 24g Bobby George 24g My first experience playing, was shall we say an ‘eye opener’. I had watched the worlds and the 180 fests that were going on and incredibly naively thought that banging in at least 60 a time would be no issue. Well you can imagine the results, with no teacher, and no idea yet on different setups, weights etc I watched in dismay as the darts flew everywhere whilst shaking and wobbling. Needless to say within the first 2 hours the cupboard looked like it had been on the receiving end of small arms fire. I can safely say that I wasn’t a prodigious MVG talent from the off, and after a few days was wondering whether at 32 this was a waste of time, I elected to persevere (I don’t give up). Slowly after a few days as ironically my muscle mass reduced due to quitting bodybuilding, and trying intensely I started to see noticeable improvements and my form improved, as did my scores. Unfortunately my improvements coincided with the changing of darts (dart honeymoon period) and this unfortunately led to the mindset that there was a dart out there was a perfect dart for me. The search for the ‘perfect’ dart was now on, and I think I ignited a secret dart barrel addiction. Over the course of the coming weeks I would constantly purchase darts in the hope that I would find the magic dart that would have me throwing like Taylor. I was relentless in my chopping and changing and within a 3 month period I had added: Andy Fordham 22g, 24g, 26g Andy Hamilton 24g Mervyn King 24g Tony O’Shea 26g McKicks Premium Whites 24g Winmau Testament 26g Adrian Lewis zirconia grip 23g Phil Taylor phase 2 24g Sometimes they would only be used for 30 minutes or less before I was onto the next one. I had an issue. I could score high straight darts, but was useless on doubles, however with bullets I would score less than straights but get doubles. This to coin a phrase “did my head in” and I was literally living on, Ebay and Luckily sense was prevailing and I wasn’t buying new, and recycling them via ebay, however the truth of the matter is that in 4 months I had purchased over 15 sets. Even now I am still guilty of chasing the ‘next purchase’ One thing that was consistent was in practicing with an average of 1 hour per day being attempted (bare in mind have 3 teenagers, a wife, a 3 year old and a 2 month old and I can only imagine the progress I’d have made if I had just stuck with one set from the beginning). Progress has been occurring and now having decided to stick to Lowe style darts (my current testaments) , progress is starting to creep in and be consistent. Overall I am happy with my 4 months progress and I hope to make more progress with a full 12 months in 2014.I have picked up some decent wins against pub players and some ex league players, and have an offer to join the local pub team looming in January. There is also local darts group that runs monthly tournaments, and has a ranking system etc which I am going to enter. The standard will be fierce, however it will be a good experience and I am hoping to learn from it. Plans for 2014: qualify and win the BDO worlds…………..only kidding! Ideally due to my dart playing career being in its infancy I would just like to improve on 2013. If I could repress my urge to constantly switch darts, get my darts average to 58 p3d, score over 2 180’s and pick up even a 1st round win in the local tourneys that would be a good year for me.