Well another task has been completed, but in playing a leg of 501 against an international darts player, another much bigger challenge has emerged.
Actually it was several games (all of which I lost) against Glen Durrant, whose progress in the recent BDO World Championships was only ended by the eventual runner-up Alan Norris.
I was pretty nervous before I met Glen at the North Ormesby Working Mens’ Club. The main reason was that despite being a reasonable player in my teens and early twenties, I then started to suffer from what is called “dartitis”, an ability to let go of a dart properly—or even at all. In the end, I just stopped playing and this was my first throw in public for something like a quarter of a century.
There is a dartboard in our garage and I have been braving the cold to get in a bit of practice, but it’s not the same as facing an opponent (of any standard) in a pub or a club. Glen chatted away and really put me at my ease, but I think we were both surprised when my first three darts landed not only in the board, but in the twenty. There were plenty of wayward arrows over the next ten or fifteen minutes, but more than a few landed near where I was aiming, and so we decided it was about time to set the electronic scorer to 501 and play a proper game.
It was brilliant to stand behind Glen and watch as he hit big score after big score. I hit a ton in the second game and a few more in the legs that followed. I even managed one 140, with the third dart very close indeed to finding the treble for a most unlikely maximum. In the second-last game, I threw my most consistent darts and actually had two shots at a double to sneak the leg. I missed and whilst the competitor in me was annoyed, I was only too well aware that in years gone by I would have just stood at the oche, with a trembling left arm and precious little chance of letting the dart go, so this was actually a real achievement.
Glen closed out the last game with a brilliant 149 finish—just as I was finding my range!—he’s a quality player, but he was also incredibly encouraging throughout and the whole experience was a genuine thrill.
And now for the even bigger challenge...
Glen has offered me the chance to face him again; this time in front of 300-400 people as part of the annual Boro Boys charity exhibition in August. The event will feature the best local professional players, alongside other big names and "surprise guests". The prospect is incredibly daunting (under-statement), but there was no way I was going to turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity.
So with a massive thanks to Glen, I will close with the link to his web site www.duzzadarts.com, so that you can find out a bit more about his darting exploits, and my now customary plea to consider supporting me on my 40Fifty challenge, which is raising funds for the mental health charity Mind: www.justgiving.com/40Fifty. Thank you so much.