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All my yesterdays

Posted by Sid Waddell at 18:10 on 31st March 2010 in UniBlog

I have just received some good news that made my heart bump and my rheumy old eyes dampen with pride.

For the past four months there has been a campaign, spear-headed by Giles Smith of The Times, to put a blue plaque on the Leeds Irish Centre. It has been gaining momentum, supported by the likes of Stephen Fry and Jeremy Paxman – plus the great and good of darts. This was where top darts as we know it on telly was born at The Indoor League in late August 1973. On Monday I was told that the Leeds Civic Trust was delighted to approve the proposal and there will be a fancy ceremony in a few weeks.

For those of you too old to recall, The Indoor League was a ground-breaking show that high-lighted the stars of pub games like shove ha’penny, arm-wrestling and darts. It was presented by legendary fast bowler Fred Trueman with pipe and woolly cardie, and Fred talked ‘dartspeak’. The show’s catch phrase ‘AH’LL SITHI IN A TICK’ became a national slogan and in 1976 we got eight million viewers on ITV. I was the proud producer and Dave Lanning the darts commentator.

The early shows starred Alan Evans, Leighton Rees and Tommy O’Regan, and we had loud music and ‘Walk-on’ lasses to present the medals. After a couple of series the show became just darts and a young Eric Bristow watched, vowed to go on it...and won.

I’ll have to take two hankies and a box of tissues when the big day comes...

PREMIER LEAGUE HALF-TERM REPORT

I’m writing this prior to week eight of the Premier League at Cardiff. We are half-way through the League part of the tournament and here is what Headmaster Sidney reckons is the form is for the run-in to Wembley. First, though, my predictions for Cardiff:

TERRY JENKINS 3 - MERVYN KING 8
SIMON WHITLOCK 8 - RONNIE BAXTER 6
ADRIAN LEWIS 8 - JAMES WADE 5
PHIL TAYLOR 8 - RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 2

I think that Terry Jenkins has become frustrated at being the Lord of the 140s but missing his doubles. On the other hand, King, who started his debut season last year with four wins, seems never to consider negatives. I think Merv will make the Wembley play-offs.

I reckon too that Ronnie and Simon will be in the finals. The Aussie has been winning top honours since he became Oceanic Master in 2002 and Ronnie was the best money-player in the world 12 years ago. Both are too experienced to let daft darts or purple patches by opponents faze them.

Last week Adrian lost a vital Leg 7, with the score 3-3, to Taylor at Birmingham and he visibly wilted. He will not feel under the same pressure from James. I see James chasing this week’s game all the way. It’s getting very late in the proceedings for him to find his ‘A’ game.
I don’t think the great Barney has a price. He lies second bottom of the table and keeps changing gear and mental approach. In nine games against Phil in the League he has never won, losing eight and drawing one. At Exeter this year he went 2-0 up and then Phil won EIGHT on the trot to win 8-2. And The Power is not yet at full throttle. Take it from me, Phil will be trying to beat Barney 8-0 at Cardiff...just to put the frighteners on the rest.

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