Diary of a Dart Player at Barnsley – with Andy Relf

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A journey to Barnsley on a Friday afternoon can be a nightmare, but for the first time in two and a half years, I’m not driving! Due to my ribs still being in more pieces than they should be – Adrian drove.

We arrived in our hotel early evening, and as we were pretty hungry by now, headed down to the bar and restaurant. We were joined after a few minutes by Messrs Pipe, Anderson and Wade, got a table and had a nice relaxing meal. Once we’d finished, Adrian and myself were joined by Justin for a practice throw. Now this is the part of the sport that I don’t understand yet... Why, when I practice, do I play like a demon – and then struggle to get over the finish line when it is a real match? We played winner stayed on, and I destroyed the other two!

Next morning me and Pipey head down for brekkie while Adrian does his hair! It is a beautiful sunny day, so we decide to walk to the venue, it’s only 15 minutes away. Adrian isn’t keen and decides on the cab option, but Gary joins us, and we get to the venue at around 9am. We have a practice, and I’m still going well.

Soon our table is joined by Justin’s new sponsor... former British Heavyweight boxer Clifton Mitchell. For a moment I was concerned that I’d never see my throwing hand again as it was engulfed by a huge hand when we shook on being introduced. We all spent some time chatting about boxing and darts, then got back to the board.

I ended up with a prelim... again! Andy Pearce was my opponent, and despite it being a great match, I came out the loser. I’d beaten my opponent to finishes, but hadn’t closed out the doubles. My earlier practice success had eluded me.

The rest of the day was spent supporting Gary as he progressed through the tournament. He soon reached the final... one thing in his way... Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor! The final was pretty one sided really... in Gary’s favour and he took the win.

That evening we headed back to the restaurant, and we had dinner courtesy of Mr Anderson to celebrate his win... nice one!

Back to the venue the next day, and with a similar practice regime as the previous day. This time I got a first round game, but my opponent was Paul Nicholson. I seem to draw some people quite a lot... this is the fourth time I’ve played Paul in a first round. I start well, with a 137 and a 140, but miss two darts to break his throw and end up losing the leg. This was the story of the match, my finishing let me down. There was another leg where I was sat on 40, and Paul took out 160, quite obviously this was not my day either. I’m hoping Paul will help my game soon, as he is coming down for a bit of a practice with Adrian and myself in the next month or so.

So it’s back to the Tuesday night league in Hailsham, and our team are at home to the White Horse. We are again the victims of a last leg decider which went against us. No wins yet this season, perhaps we need the inspiration of Sheebo... who is currently learning how to change nappies courtesy of his new baby girl. Congratulations to him and Jo on their new arrival.