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March 2012

Another year and another Lakeside World Pro has come and gone and there are lots of good memories to share now that I have ‘surfaced’ from the hectic days of interviews and analysis with the likes of Colin Murray and Ray Stubbs.

Great to have Ray back in darts because he loves it so much and it must be  a bit of a bit of a ‘holiday’ for him after so much football on ESPN.  Just like Colin, he is a true professional in everything he does.

Good to know that there were excellent  viewing figures on both BBC and ESPN to reflect these great Championships .’ New kids on the block’ ESPN did a smashing job of with their  live coverage and presentation throughout the week.

 To say they were over the moon with their viewing figures would be an understatement.  Darts was second only to football and that’s a great result for everyone in the BDO.

Yes, there were the predictable moans about ‘reduced’ coverage, but there were over sixty hours of live and recorded darts on both terrestrial and satellite TV and ESPN took BDO darts to a new set of viewers, which can’t be bad!

The BBC red-button service was missed by many but it did return for the 2012 Women’s Final –thanks to agreement between ESPN and BBC.  Whatever the ladies (some of them at least) think, lots of work goes on behind the scenes to support ladies darts.

Importantly, the World Pro threw-up yet another new name and Men’s Champion in Christian Kist, who became the 21st World Pro Champion since 1978.  He’s only 25 and made his debut as a qualifier from the 2011 International Play-Offs in Hull.

As a mark of the importance and specialness (is there such a word?) of Lakeside, he arrived as a complete unknown on January 7th and returned to his home town of Vroomshoop (sounds like a word from a sci-fi comic!) on January 16th (the day after the final) as a new darting hero, with almost 2,000 locals welcoming him home with the famous trophy.

He even had a couple of his local big-wigs (Aldermen) fly over to support him in the Lakeside final and they led the way in a Civic Reception when he returned home with the most famous piece of silverware Vroomshoop is ever likely to see, plus 100,000 Grand in his back pocket to supplement (or replace) his earnings as a road worker!

What a difference the World Pro can make in the life of a player!
Just like Barney’s Lakeside  emergence in 1998, Christian has now revived some of the interest in Dutch darts that has been sadly lost following the collapse of great Dutch tournaments like the World Darts Trophy and International Darts League.

It also produced the return of Dutch TV cameras to Lakeside for the final.
Alongside Christian was a whole posse of Dutch talent, including another outstanding  newcomer in Wesley Harms, who lost in the Semi-Finals to an in-form Tony O’Shea - proving that a good old ‘un can beat a good young ‘un when the air-conditioning is behaving itself!

I was also pleased to have played a part in nicknaming Mr.Kist ‘Lipstick’!
It was a no-brainer really, because his name sounds like ‘Kissed’ and he landed in the ‘lipstick’ (or red bit) to score more 180’s  than anyone else – 33 in total (10 ahead of Tony O’Shea and Ted Hankey).

Tony ‘O’ played some brilliant darts at Lakeside, and his Quarter-Final battle against Martin Adams was my own personal match of the 2012 World Pro.  The score-line of 5-2 to Tony does not do justice to the competitiveness of two proper pro’s who are big Lakeside favourites.

Having said that, the First Round match between two of the new Dutch names – Jan Dekker and Christian Kist was a real cracker.

It finished 3-2 to Kist and they both had single dart averages of 32 plus!
Going back to Tony O’Shea, he was once again the Lakeside ‘bridesmaid’ (he was also runner-up in 2009) but  more than made up for it last month when he won the Dutch Open.  How ironical is that?

Kist comes to Lakeside and wins the World Pro with Tony in runner-up spot, and then Tony goes to Holland and wins the 2012 Dutch Open and Kist is nowhere to be seen!

We all say that ‘darts is on the day’ and this goes some way to proving it!
I must mention that my Richie played Tony in the Last 32 of the Dutch Open and gave him a tough match that ended 3-2 in Tony’s favour.

Pity I couldn’t be there to cheer him on, but after spending an hour digging my car out of the snow at George Hall me and Marie got to Stanstead and spent 5 frustrating hours waiting to take off!  We actually got to the date, but the flight was cancelled!

Typical! The weather forecasters were talking about the snow coming for a week and even issued severe weather warnings, but the airports, railways and roads were in their usual chaotic state!

It’s a shame, because me and Marie were invited as special guests by the NDB and would have loved to have been there.   We had to make do with watching the finals on the internet and I have to say that the streaming was excellent.

My congratulations go to all the winners, but none more so than the kids.  The boys final was a great advert for the future of our darts, with Rowby-John Rodriques and Dimitri van den Bergh (what mouthfuls for the commentators!) playing brilliant, high-scoring darts. Rowby-John came out on top with a 4-0 master-class which was much closer than the score-line suggests.
Well done to the NDB for continuing to showcase the youth.

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