Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Darting Divide

To me Darts is a wonderful sport, an enjoyable game that is great to take part in and even better to watch, both whilst having a beer or 3 with mates! But there’s a lot to it behind the scenes which has kept darting fanatics arguing for years now.

There are two organisations that essentially run the sport of professional darts, firstly the British Darts Organisation (BDO) who have been in operation since 1973, and secondly the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) which was formed in 1992 by a group of 16 players (including all former World Champions still playing). It isn’t hard to find plenty of articles written about the split in professional darts, so I won’t go into detail about the reasons of the split.

The thing is, fans are just as split as the organisations are. The BDO is very traditional, very old school, as are a large number of its fans. The PDC however, is loud, brash and very publicity-heavy thanks to the chairman Barry Hearn. There is also a gulf in talent, which has been apparent recently with both organisations running their World Championships within the last 2 months. PDC players are the best in the world, they have the higher averages, the better scores, the more competitive games, and a lot more 9 dart finishes than the BDO have.

Speaking of 9 dart finishes, that is perfection for a darts player. Only in Darts & Snooker (there may be more) can an athlete achieve perfection, there is no better than a 147 clearance in Snooker or a 9 dart finish in Darts. It cannot be beaten, cannot be outdone, and is a special moment for anyone who achieves it.

It’s a regular occurrence to see players perform well in the BDO, then a short while later make the jump over to the PDC, where the money is. Of course, the money is a massive difference between the two. Firstly there’s more televised (and therefore highly prized) tournaments within the PDC throughout the year, but the World Championship prize fund really highlights the gulf. This past weekend Steve Bunting won the BDO Worlds, pocketing a cool £100k. Not an amount to be sniffed at I know, but compare that to the £250k prize fund that PDC World Champion Michael Van Gerwen took home on New Years Day and you see where the difference is.

Fans of the BDO can often be found complaining about the noise of the PDC events, that there’s no respect for the players when they’re throwing, and the players are arrogant. However these same fans will also be seen talking about top BDO players in the sense that they are “good enough to make the step up to the PDC”. The BDO is great for entry level darts, but when you look at the bigger picture, the PDC is the best darts to watch & be a part of. The atmosphere at the events is electric, the players are of the highest quality, and it’s encouraged that you go there and have a bloody good time!

I have all the time in the world for BDO darts, I will gladly watch it on the rare occasion it makes it on to the tv, but it doesn’t compare to the big leagues of the PDC. Maybe in some eyes it does, but to me, and thousands of other dart fanatics, (to paraphrase Jim Bowen) you can’t beat a bit of PDC!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Festive Frustrations

The festive period is usually one filled with football fixtures, so much so that teams in the top flight complain and moan about wanting a winter break. Well after looking forward to this period full of footy it turned out that Concord Rangers (and many other teams at this level) actually got an unwanted winter break!

You don’t have to look very far to read various opinions on how the yearly postponements can be avoided, hell even I stuck my oar in this time last season with some ideas of my own. However nothing has really changed and once again the weather decimated the Christmas fixture lists. Last year the main culprit was snow, but this year it’s been the near constant heavy rainfall which has done the deed.

After Concord Rangers impressive 4-0 victory in the Essex Senior Cup Quarter Final at home to Canvey Island, the scheduled fixture at home to Havant & Waterlooville was the first to be hit by the weather. A waterlogged pitch meant that the next fixture for the Beachboys would be the away trip to Boreham Wood on Boxing Day. That game proved to be the only one that would take place as scheduled for Concord, and they made it count with a well deserved 0-2 victory on the day.

The weather played a part in the postponement of the following Saturdays fixture at home to Chelmsford, as high winds & heavy rain had caused damage to one of the transformers feeding electricity to the club. On the day the electrical company supplied a generator, but when it came to the crunch it wasn’t deemed suitable enough by the officials & the game was postponed. This was exceptionally painful as a number of the Concord committee had repaired the damaged “shed end” the day before, and a number of Chelmsford fans had walked to the game in order to raise money for charity.

New Years Day was the next scheduled fixture, but once again a waterlogged pitch meant that Boreham Wood would have to rearrange their visit to Thames Road. The following Saturday Concord were due to travel to table toppers Bromley, but that game met with the same fate the two previous games had suffered, postponement. To keep the Beachboys sharp a squad game was arranged with Burnham Ramblers, but it lacked the urgency & pace that a normal match would entail.

So what was expected to be a festive season rammed full of football, ended up being a little over 2 weeks of frustration and desperation! More postponements are occurring around the league as well, with this past Tuesdays fixture at Bishops Stortford also falling foul to the weather. Here’s hoping that the rain can hold off long enough for us to get some games on, either away or at Thames Road!

You Are My Concord!

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