A holiday filled with darts

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

The Christmas season always brings an extra joy to Sideline Sid with one of his favourite sporting events broadcast on Sky.  

There are few sporting events in the world that bond players, officials and spectators together, like the annual World Darts championships, held at the Alexandra Palace in London.

While the final title decider is played out on the first day of January each year, the preceding rounds take place from mid December. 

For two weeks, the players thrill the crowds with their throws, the announcers bring the house down with each 180 and the spectators party on like there is no tomorrow. 

The 2018 event was always going to be a poignant time for the sport, with the greatest player in the game in Phil Taylor, announcing that he was calling time on competing at the world champs. 

In a sport where every player has a nickname, Taylor, was known as "The Power".

With the London evening sessions broadcast into New Zealand as we sat down to bacon and eggs, darts fans throughout the world were hoping for a fairytale end to Phil Taylor's glittering career. 

Taylor's domination in a game that has been described as throwing small missiles at a piece of wood on the wall, has been immense.

Since his first world title in 1990, Phil has won 16 world title crowns, albeit the last one coming five years ago. 

The magnitude of Phil Taylor's 16 world titles, is shown that the next best is five victories apiece by Eric Bristow and Raymond van Barneveld. 

Entering this year's event seeded sixth, an upset quarter final victory over two-time world champion Gary Anderson, propelled Phil towards challenging for a seventeenth world crown. 

After despatching Jamie Lewis in the semi's, Phil Taylor entered the final stanza as both the nominal and sentimental favourite.

Standing in Taylor's way was one of the sports young guns in Rob Cross, in his debut appearance at the world championships.

There was no fairytale ending, with Cross jumping out to an early lead and cruising to a 7-2 victory.

However, during the contest Taylor showed his enthusiastic and boisterous band of supporters, a sprinkling of his old magic. 

Darts Holy Grail is a nine dart 501 victory, which are as rare as a maximum 147 break in snooker.

Looking to get back into the match, Taylor was just a whisker away from victory with his ninth successive arrow, which landed just outside a double twelve to finish. 

New Zealand had two competitors in action, but as always our best living at the end of the world, are denied the regular red hot competition available in the northern hemisphere.

Both Cody Harris and Bernie Smith showed their talent winning through from the preliminary qualifiers, to the first round of 64. 

With the darts couch surfing out of the way, this grey headed sports nut can now concentrate on the live action at our “own” Bay Oval cricket stadium.  

Kicking off on Saturday, is seven games in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, including the Grand Final with all games under lights - and the best part is the free entry for all seven games. 

However, Sideline Sid has had the 28th February 2018 circled on his calendar for months, with the Barmy Army coming to town.

Napier's loss of the ODI between the Black Caps and England, is the Bay Ovals gain, with a sell-out crowd likely to be on hand.

The same enthusiasm and patriotic support that was on display at the recent world darts championship will be shown by the English cricket supporters at the Bay Oval.

 

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Jack-o-lantern in the sunrise. Halloween’s come early this year! Photo: Nicholle Roberson.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz