I would be very much a creature of habit. Owing mostly to superstition. When life was as I wanted it to be – before personal circumstances and Covid-19 made a horlicks of same – that meant going for a few pints on a Sunday, Monday and Wednesday night and getting a Chinese takeaway on a Thursday. All fairly mundane stuff.
Back even further in the day, the wheels carrying yours truly used to ramble up to watch the GAA lads training every Tuesday and Thursday night. Rain or shine. Summer or winter. Often with the conveyance not all that well illuminated. Which afforded the busybodies and begrudgers plenty of mud to sling. Thankfully, very little of it ever stuck.
All of that for me is now in the past. Or at least that’s how it feels. Except there is no past, for it’s all around. With it not being as readily available as it is dearly longed it was, other avenues have had to be sought out and developed. Which, for a combination of reasons has meant – apart from igniting an interest in playing cards – recording and watching an even greater volume of sport on television than was already the case. How is that possible I hear you ask.
Factually speaking via the SkyBox! Recently, mention was afforded to the central role basketball plays in exactly that. But also in that mix undoubtedly – especially at this time of year – are darts. Except, that is, when they happen to be on ITV4. That is not to say they are never observed on the aforementioned platform but the inability to pause and record makes it difficult for yours truly to keep up with the fare.
However, with modern media taking many forms, there is generally another way to either stay up to speed with what’s been happening in a given arena or catch up with what has gone on in the aftermath thereof. Thanks to the official PDC website, it was a case of the latter, this morning actually, catching up on the outcomes at the weekend’s Ladbrokes Masters in Milton Keynes.
Repetition is one of the greatest foibles in this business, but, if a point retains relevance not only is there nothing wrong with making it again, its something which should be done. In this instance, how Michael Van Gerwen’s form has dissipated to such a degree, at present anyway, that it actually wasn’t that big of a shock to learn that the ‘Green Machine’ had his weekend’s work ended long before anybody would’ve expected. Until a while ago anyway.
With the greatest of respect to Jonny Clayton, not all that long ago, the mere thought of the Welsh man defeating MVG would practically have been inconceivable. Notwithstanding the fact that ‘The Ferret’ has improved immeasurably in recent times – even though he came out of the wrong side of an absolute classic against Joe Cullen, his competing to such a level is indicative of his progression as a player.
Furthermore, Clayton’s outright victory continues the trend of ‘new’ winners in big events – Jose de Sousa, Gerwyn Price, Nathan Aspinall and Glen Durrant having also done so in the recent past. Granted, in the case of Price his annexation of the Sid Waddell Trophy over the Christmas period wasn’t as big of a breakthrough as the victories were for some of the others mentioned above as he had already amassed a couple of televised titles. Though capturing the biggest one of all obviously catapulted his status in the game onto a new plateau.
A bit of variety among the winners keeps things interesting. Having one or a couple of competitors winning everything is boring and disheartening. Such as the alternating grip Celtic and Rangers have had on Scottish football for the majority of my lifetime or the stranglehold Phil Taylor held over the action on the oche for an elongated period.
Having negotiated the equally emergent Jose de Sousa in his opening fixture, Clayton also defeated the rejuvenated duo of James Wade and Mervyn King in the quarter final and final respectively whilst negotiating his way past 2020 World Champion Peter Wright at the penultimate hurdle.
His reward after 31 years of hard graft, continuing the current boom time for Welsh darts, is the final spot in the forthcoming Unibet Premier League, which promises to be the most open and entertaining yet. Here’s hoping we get to see it.