This edition of our regular look back through some of darts most memorable, or significant, moments, stretches from March 15th – March 21st. We journey back as far as the early 1990’s and through to 2015. Wade, Barney, Aspinall, Hamilton and Lazarenko all feature:
29 Years Ago:
The German Open, from 1991, was in the second year of what would prove an unbroken run until this year (lets us hope that they can rearrange 2020’s event!). It was notable for a few reasons. Raymond Van Barneveld began a season that would see him win his first ranking event. RVB had to settle for a Qtr Final here though. U.S. star Steve Brown reached the final and showed a little of what was to come. Steve finished in the 3rd place in the first PDC World Championship in 1994, defeating Peter Evison in the play off match, and was still playing elite darts into his 50’s. As with a number of overseas players it is shame that we did not witness Steve at his best, for a longer time, but the slump in darts popularity made it impossible for many to travel and earn a living. Belgian Bruno Raes claimed the title overcoming Brown in the final. Raes was a quite the home player! Between 1991 and 2009 he was the whole range of Belgian events, Belgian Championships, Gold Cups Opens and National Championships were claimed repeatedly while he seemed rarely to venture beyond his borders. Indeed the German Championship may have been his only non Belgian title. Bruno make an exception for the majors in Britain, reaching the last 32 of the World Championships (x2) and the World Masters as late as 2011.
9 Years Ago:
Speaking of 2011, that year saw the only holding of the RTL7 Masters. The Dutch TV giant sponsored a invitational event not dissimilar to the current Champions League of Darts. After a group stage, four groups of three, the semi finals featured Phil Taylor vs Gary Anderson and Vincent Van de Voort against Raymond van Barneveld (handy for Dutch TV) the sponsors were rewarded with the final they craved. ‘The Power’ took on RVB with Taylor emerging triumphant, as was usually the case, by a score of 8-3 in the final.
Another event beginning to become an established feature on the calendar, was the Torremolinos Open weekend. The 2011 tournament was claimed by young Jake Jones. Jake defeated the immortal, so it seems, Paul Harvey in the final. Jones was not yet 18, whereas Harvey was in his late forties and enjoying a very good spell of results. Jones continued an excellent junior career, but is yet to realise his full potential in the game. Harvey is still playing well and was most recently spotted at Rileys qualifier for the UK Open.
5 Years Ago:
James Wade claimed the Pro Tour event held on March 15th (A feat he came close to repeating yesterday when he was runner up to Ian White). His route to the title was one of the tougher, his defeat of Peter Wright, in the final, was preceeded by wins over a handful of superb players including Micheal Smith, Gerwyn Price, Kev Thomas and Mensur. Many undervalue ‘The Machine’s career, but it should be noted that he has been winning PDC ranking events (Pro Tour) since 2002 and is still only 36 years old! Hidden away on the same day Nathan Aspinall can be seen bowing out at the L64 stage. Nathan should be a lesson to all, it is possible to have a tough time at the highest level but then to learn, re group and step up again.
Amongst this week’s birthdays are: ‘Big Cliff’ Lazerenko (68) and Andy Hamilton (53). Both men reached Major Championship finals, only to be thwarted by the icons of their day. In Cliff’s case Eric, John, Jockey or Bob were usually in his path. Whereas, Andy, was often prevented, from lifting trophies, by fellow Stoke-on-Trent titans Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis.
Cliff, however, did manage to lift both the British Open and the British Matchplay.