Julia’s partner said “I’m bored retired, and that’s why I came back again”!

“Send In The Clowns” must be one of the saddest songs ever written. Even the tune of it is tear jerking. Mind you, there have been absolutely no clowns in the environs of the PDC World Championship, but if you put different lyrics to the same tune you could have “Tear up the script” and it certainly would’ve fitted right in. Because not much of what has transpired at the Ally Pally so far could’ve been foreseen.

Fallon Sherrock out, Raymond Van Barneveld not only coming back but putting in a display recalling so many of the great nights the Dutch darting darling of the crowds has had at the sport’s Mecca in the past. Barney had returned to the professional circuit after not being able to hack being away from it.

Another paraphrased few lines came to mind upon having heard the great man’s iconic walk-on anthem ring out (to the air of Sylvia’s Mother) – “Julia’s partner said I’m bored retired, and that’s why I came back again”. For someone of his stature in the game who had achieved what RVB has, there was always going to be inherent danger.

Cautionary tales of how leading sporting figures don’t make it back to their former glories after spells away are commonplace. And not for a second is it being suggested that the popular tungsten thrower will get back anywhere near the plinth which saw him accumulate five world titles, but at the very least it vindicated his decision to have another go.

The Barney pose

With respect, he will have to overcome a much higher calibre of challenge than that posed by Laurence Ilagen if he is to go deep into the tournament, but for last night he could only deal with who was in front of him.

Boy did he do so impressively. I like Wayne Mardle, in fact, meeting him is one ambition which hopefully will be achieved someday. However, Hawaii 501, in pure excitement, can often blurt some wild and whirling words. This time, mind you, concurring with the colourful commentator was actually quite simple when he opined at times last night it was like watching the Barney of old.

Yes, he will have to go up several levels again if he is to contend against Rob Cross. Mind you, given the latter’s propensity to resemble a youngster’s backside – in other words, you don’t know he’s going to do – he’ll certainly have nothing to fear. Of course, the same caveat holds true the other way around as well. There’s no reason Cross would or should fear the vastly experienced star from Den Haag but his greatest obstacles may be inside his own head.

Similar sentiments to the latter can also be applied to James Wade. The talented but tempestuous southpaw is as liable to psyche himself out of an advantageous situation as he is to irritate his opponent or spectators. The flip side of that is there can be no doubting Wade’s alacrity at his profession.

James Wade

Yet the feeling that he has underachieved is not easily escaped. Now, the following is only my own opinion, but it always seems to be more difficult for left handed players to pin their targets, but, even taking that into account ‘The Machine’ always seems to make things harder for himself than might be the case. Even last night, if Holland’s Maik Kuivenhoven was possessed of a little more confidence in his own ability, there’s no way Wade would’ve whitewashed him. At the very least.

In Monday evenings opening encounter, Luke Woodhouse – a new name to yours truly – didn’t have to overly extend himself to bypass the challenge presented by James Wilson. In mitigation for the defeated player however, when taking health and injury ailments debilitating Wilson, the fact that he qualified at all is an inspiring achievement in itself.

As indeed it has been for the various members of the Rodriguez family – don’t ask me how many of there are – but the night belonged to the Barney Army and their Commander In Chief!

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