Willie Borland – remember the name. You’re not likely to forget it. On the night 67-year-old Paul Lim – the first man to ever hit a nine dart finish at the World Championships – bowed out of this year’s version, 32 years after that historic occasion, after a typically brave effort, the young Scot joined the limited edition amalgam to have achieved the feat.
But he went further than that. Much further. The 25-year-old became the first player to WIN any match with the perfect finish, let alone on the biggest stage the sport has to offer. On his first appearance at the Alexandra Palace.
Fermanagh’s Brendan Dolan became known as ‘The History Maker’ when pinning a nine darter at the City West Hotel in Dublin. He may well have to relinqiish the moniker after tonight’s extraordinary events. It is only right and proper, mind you, to pay tribute to the equally exceptional Bradley Brookes who more than played his part in the most enthralling tungsten throwing tumult this observer has ever witnessed.
Brooks has already made quite the splash this season, but Borland’s magical mathematics were a fitting highlight, not only to a truly remarkable game, but an absolutely astonishing ten hours of action at the London venue. If the flowers of Scotland were budding after Borland’s brilliance, they hit full bloom a short while later Peter Wright dazzled viewers with the sort of performance which earmarked him for this writer as most likely to add to the seven titles he already attained this season.
In the night session’s other two fixtures, firstly, the admirable but wasteful Joe Murnan got the better of the great Lim after a brilliant battle and in the night’s fourth pairing Ross Smith got the better of namesake Jeff of Canada. But the night belonged to Scotland the brave.
Earlier in the day, to employ a bit of horse racing parlance, the Irish top and tailed the card. Firstly as Carlow’s Steve Lennon replicated the achievement of Willie O’Connor in learning from past disappointments to record a deserved victory. Indeed, in the afternoon’s opening joust, by taking out Ratajaski of Poland, Lennon not only recorded the biggest win of his own career but also took out a genuine contender.
It was then the turn of Meath’s own Keane Barry to take centre stage. The Duleek youngster, a former World Junior Champion was making his third appearance in the sport’s showpiece event started like a man possessed against Royden Lam of Hong Kong. However, in something which has become a bit of a trend in this year’s championship, Barry’s 2-0 set advantage was wiped out by the deceptively boyish looking 46-year-old before his bespeckled opponent regained his composure – in fact showing tonnes of it, belying his tender age and dearth of experience at the highest level.
He will surely be wary of the realisation that he won’t be able to go missing in games as was the case here for a while in matches to come but for any player – let alone with Barry’s youth and obvious talent – getting a first win under your belt at the most famous amphitheatre the sport has to it’s name should be achievement enough for one day.
Anyway, elsewhere in yesterday’s afternoon session, ‘Relentless’ Ryan Joyce completely lived up to his name early on when racing into a 2-0 lead against Roman Benecky, but, just as would happen the man from the Royal County coming in his wake, Joyce seemed to idle in front and stumbled over the finish line rather than crossing it with any great grace.
There was nothing stumbly about the final game of yesterday’s afternoon session however as the giant Russian Boris Koltsov dispatched with Jermaine Wattimena’s surprisingly tame challenge without dropping a set. However, that would only tell a minute fraction of the story. The paltry nature of the resistance offered by the Dutchman being one of them.
Whether that was down to Koltsov’s demeanour on stage or not I’ll let you make up your own mind. Some referred to his doings as antics but that, to me, implies cynicism. Anybody hoping to get anywhere in life needs a bit of that in them and if you don’t concur chances are you’re happy with mediocrity.
In this instance, as far as I would be concerned, any verbals dispensed by big Boris were in his own direction or that of his corner, and you could hardly give the man schtick for exciting the crowd a bit, life is downtrodden and morbid enough.