Ferret shows the fluctuating fortunes of rapidly changing picture

How in the name of who or whatever runs the world is it April already? It only seems like last week one was brimming with giddy optimism for Colm O’Rourke’s stewardship of the Meath team, the upturn in Manchester United’s fortunes under Erik ten Hag and the, as it was then, forthcoming Cheltenham Festival.

Now however, Meath are no further on than when Colm started out, while United have ended their trophy drought, hopes of an unlikely title bid are receding as quickly as my hairline and the National Hunt horse racing season is heading for its dying embers as the dastardly Flat turf campaign pokes its head above the parapet. In the midst of that multi-sport equation, darts is something of an oddball bedfellow.

To me, tungsten throwing is predominantly a winter phenomenon. More than that, personally speaking, it forms an essential element of what makes the winter months negotiable. The odd thing, though, is that once the clocks go forward and the evenings stretch, I actually find it very difficult to get properly stuck into affairs on the oche. With the result that it’s often a day or two after the action actually takes place it’s consumed by yours truly.

So it was most recently on the occasion of Night 9 of the Cazoo Premier League in Berlin. A couple of seasons back, Jonny Clayton emphatically announced his arrival into to the upper echelons of the sport when winning the Premier League behind closed doors during the Covid-19 Lockdown of 2020. Since then, though, The Ferret himself would most likely admit that he hasn’t been performing to the same level since. Add to that, then, that Michael Van Gerwen (3) and Gerwyn Price (2) had won the previous five weeks between them.

Mind you, it’s worth remembering that darts is similar to both Snooker and Tennis in that the top protagonists therein tend to face off with extreme regularity. Thus it’s probably to be expected that results between them all will fluctuate. Even allowing for that, it was difficult to foresee either MVG or Gezzy not going right to the wire on a particular night. Let alone the possibility of the former of the two going at the first hurdle on a night, under the current format.

The Ferret dug out a win in Berlin.

Yet that is exactly what happened as firstly the former roofer nailed down a win after an epic battle against the Dutchman at his first hurdle of the night. As it happened, that was the first of victories over THREE World Champions on the night for the affable Welshman.

Next up was a local derby for him against Price. With mention having been afforded earlier to the fact that the regularity of meetings is generally a precursor to spells of dominance alternating between parties, it was probably wise to note that the former rugby player had won the last six encounters between the pair.

Thus there was almost an inevitability about Jonny being good this time. Against that, as used to be the case when Meath and Dublin collided, the form book can go out the window. Which was again the case here as Clayton closed down the recent gallop of his compatriot.

Doing that with the top performer in the world, however, is an entirely different matter. And to Michael Smith’s great credit, he has looked every inch the best player on the planet since becoming the custodian of the Sid Waddell Trophy.

Be that as it may, the diminutive dartist from the valleys made the most of having that oft underrated element – momentum – in his armoury to juggle the standings a bit heading into Night 10.

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