At this time every year, those of us who succumbed to the lure of the darts a long time ago face the usual barrage of scepticism from the unconverted that affairs of the arrows aren’t actually sporting matters. Aside from pointing out the intricacies of the skill set required to prosper on the oche, the easiest explanation to the knockers is to point out that Sky Sports would hardly show such things if the second half their name didn’t apply to the discipline.
If you get past that hurdle, it’ll be ‘Well they’re hardly elite athletes, are they?’ Andy Smith, Andy Hamilton and John Henderson look away now please. Or if they still can’t accept reality for what is, they’ll tell you it’s only for ‘Fat English lads who are too fond of the pub’. Again, the two Andys and The Highlander should probably look away now.
To deconstruct such asinine theories, one need only point out that there are 29 different nations represented in this year’s incarnation and – with no disrespect intended to anybody – it’s hardly coincidence that some of the more rotund competitors are finding it more and more difficult to stay with the modern trend setters.
Speaking of trends, Derry’s Daryl Gurney bucked that of his form of the recent past when overcoming Willie O’Connor 3-2 in the headline act of the afternoon session on Day 3. The latter had, unfortunately from his own perspective, started as sluggishly as was the case in his opening joust.
Difference being that while ‘The Magpie’ from Cappamore did eventually take flight, his Ulster opponent took it on the Chin to set up what should be a lively encointer against the equally feisty Geordie, Chris Dobey.
Elsewhere in the first half of the day’s action, the up and coming Pole Madarz Razma and Edward Foukes throwing for Japan won without dropping a set while Scotland’s Ryan Murray had a memorable debut in the biggest tournament of them all. Notvhing up a 3-1 success over a well travelled Philipino opponent.