So after 13 weeks of injury recovery from a full Achilles rupture i decided to attend my first darts knockout in a very long time.
It was run at a local club by a gentlemen who has been raising money for Prostate Cancer research and has raised over 14k so far a fantastic feet i think you will agree. I had heard about his events and that they are run very well and are superbly organised and i have to say this was to be the case.
I arrived at the venue a good 40 minutes before TTO (Toe the Oche) as i had not been here before and wanted to see what the venue was like, i was aware of a few boards in use and yeah there was 4 boards to use all good quality and each with a raised oche always good, i have been comps before where its been a strip of tape on the floor that can get very argumentative.
So catch up with old faces i have not seen for months and in some instances years, i stepped away from darts back in 2012 and have dipped in and out since but now looking to stay involved more in the game. Back in the early 2000's a Saturday afternoon darts ko in the potteries would attract around 70-80 players some times and a average pub ko around 35-40 today we had just 25 players register, so it gets me wondering what we need to do to get players coming back to play in comps, i have discussed in previous blogs about players not been interested due to a PDC or BDO player might be there and they will win it, but who cares we are here to play darts and to be the best you have to beat the best.
So we get to roll call at the event not something i have come across much where all the players gather together and the control desk call our names out like a register and we say we are here, a good idea but i can imagine with a few more in the room this would be a nightmare and time consuming. Then the draw is done on computer and verified by someone and we start with pre lim games due to the numbers, so we need to get to a last 16 which means 5 pre lim games these start across the 4 boards, now my thinking from the off was would it be better to use 3 boards and leave a practice board but thankfully we used all 4 as some of the games took a little longer than you would expect, in fact one game took over 40 minuted to be played and it is best of 5 first to 3. The best thing about a darts knockout is players of all levels and abilities can play against anyone, if it happens that 2 players who are of a less ability play each other then you are going to be in for a long game sadly, if two top level players play it will be done in seconds as they will be hitting big scores.
So we need volunteer markers to start with and shock no rush in people saying i will do it, but i stepped up, last time i attended a darts knockout i mentioned in other blogs i got up and left at the end and i felt bad about that so i stepped straight in and marked a game between two very good ladies dart players who tested my maths with some good 19 plays, the game was a 3-1 win and the darts thrown were good, and i knew if i had to play the winner in the next round i would need to be on top form but this was not the case.
So the game on Board3 between a young man and a lady took the longest and used 3 markers overall, this held up proceedings but this is what you have to factor in when you attend comps, not every game will be done in minutes. What i use to do back when i use to attend regular was take a book and sit and read whilst i waited if there was no practice boards in use, today i couldn't sit down as my achillies would seize up and also i had not taken a book, so watching the football on my phone was my option of choice. The event got moving along and most games were going the distance from what i could see and the moment a board was free they got the next game on so not much chance to get in and warm the arm up. I then got asked have you played yet, to which i said no i looked at my phone and it was 15:51 i had been here now nearly 2 hours easily and not played, i had a warm up on arrival marked a game and watched football that was all. So i was now getting a little tired of standing and waiting around now, however i was sure as some folks had played 2 games i must be getting close to playing, but as it turned out i was last drawn out and had a bye in the last 16 into the last 8 for me which meant i would not play for some time. This is the luck of the draw or in my case the unluckiness of the draw. So after i figured this out i was then just waiting to here my name, it had to be soon right and at 16:06 it was time for me to play my opening game, i had about a good solid 25 minutes warm up at the venue, a few hours at home before i arrived and i felt good to throw, then walking towards me was my opponent John Burgess a top level player but i still felt confident i have known John for a while and new that if i was to have a chance i could not afford to slip into the 5's and 1's. After a short wait we got our marker and we were underway.
John won the bull, easily might i add and he kicked off with a 85, i thought aup here we go i have a shot to get into the lead and we went .... T3, S20 & S5 sit down now Shaun i thought but sometimes it takes me a leg to get warmed up but not today if i hit a 60 he was hitting 100, if i managed anything over 80 he replied with something over 135.
This proved to me that i needed to step my game up and i was no where near as close as i wanted or thought my game was at, inevitably i lost 0-3 and it took around four and half minutes to loose.
So i had been here for nearly 2 and half hours and just lost without getting to a double, thats darts for you thats the game.
I marked the game next as you do, i did not leave this time i stayed and marked it and it was a good qfinal game which had good scores and top checkouts.
So what did i take from this experience, my darts are not at a good level, they are a average pub level but comps and knockouts not yet need more time on the practice board. Is there a good darts comp scene in the area, yes i think there is still, 25 is ok but as i said to the runners i think there are more we just need to advertise them right, and last is the standard of darts in Stoke still as strong as when i stepped away from playing,, no, its bloody stronger than ever and the players playing are good, and for me to achieve something at local events well as Finch said in American Pie 2
"Efforts must be doubled"
Till we chat again, enjoy your darts and mind the oche folks.
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