A very warm welcome to my column, which will be a look at the darts scene from my travels around the globe as well as darts home here.
First and foremost I would like to wish you all and your families the very best In these somewhat strange times, which have hit the world and completely changed all of our way of life.
Obviously, with the coronavirus affecting darts tournaments (as well as all other sports and events) all over the world, for the past five months, the PDC came up with the Home Tour Tournament for the pros to keep us all entertained and busy during lockdown.
Jason Thame’s Modus company also ran Icons of darts tournaments each day, which has been tremendous for all darts enthusiasts and fans, still wanting their dart fix while sitting indoors unable to go out. So with little darts action, I personally have not been involved in, I have been busy at home, probably like all of us, doing all the jobs that we don’t normally do, and some. Until that was announced the World Matchplay will be played behind closed doors at the Marshalls Arena, Milton Keynes on July 18th live on Sky. The PDC Pro Tour saw 5 days of action at MK with the Summer Series, just a week or so prior to the WM, which saw MVG winning 2 days of the event, a maiden win for Ryan Joyce and wins for James Wade and World Champ Peter Wright.
Eagerly awaiting the 18th July, I arrived at the Hilton Hotel at Milton Keynes on Friday (17th) at 4pm and got tested for Covid 19 and then taken to my room where I was then isolated until the test results the following day.
At 1.30pm on Sat, a negative result returned, as was the case with all officials and players. Ready and excited for the evening action, I had two matches to call, Ratajski v Wattimena and Anderson v Pipe. Back to work again, considering the last time I called a match was the beginning of March, even after 24 years of calling, had a touch of nerves running through me. It was very strange to stand on the stage, everything was normal, except….there was no crowd.
Despite the crowd noise piped through the arena, it still had an eerie atmosphere, which in a strange way, calling a 180 without the build-up gasp of the audience, to the inevitable roar as the last dart goes in the treble 20, or the singing of “stand up if you love the darts” and all the other chants, you felt as if you were very much on your own there. After the first day of play, I got used to the atmosphere, felt a lot more relaxed and it was business as usual.
A fantastic tournament, which had everything bar a nine-darter and a marvellous win for the former two-time youth World Champ, Dimitri Van den Bergh on his first major. I’m sure that won’t be the youngster’s last. This year my travels have been cancelled, I should have been in Asia for the Asian Tour and Pro Tour events in Oz as well as the Oceanic Masters which I have called for the last 10 years.
The European Tour hopefully will be up and running as well as the aforementioned trips very soon.. I hope next time I will have some better news for us all, that, we are back to some form of normality, that the darts is back In full flow, I’m back on the road with my darting friends here and around the world keeping us all up to date with my adventures, but most of all, we’re all keeping safe and well.
On a personal note, I would like to wish Dave Clark all the very best for the future, lovely guy and has been a cracking presenter of our sport for many years.
Russ Bray is a global PDC referee. He writes in association with William Hill and Unicorn Darts
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