Dutch disasters, darts and dearly departed.
Feb 1st saw us set off from Morecambe to undertake a mammoth 18 hour journey to Assen in Holland. Picked up after Wednesday night darts we set off to pick up my roomie Heather Draper and set off down to Folkstone to go on the Euro Tunnel. Just 35 mins later we were in France! Truly amazing! We then proceeded to drive through France and Belgium and then up into Holland. Approximately half way into our journey we pulled in to re fuel and add pressure to our tyre. This was our first disaster. Due to the extreme cold weather our pressure valve failed and in snow we had to change a tyre which was hard in such extreme weather.
Onward to our venue in Essen, we arrived totally drained but happy. We proceeded to check in and went to get our cases from the car. As we had parked quite a way away we saw what we thought was a short cut across a little wet/icy looking tarmaced road. However shockingly it wasn't a road at all! It was a frozen over pond. Poor Heather was the first to step on top, unfortunately the ice gave way and she was plunged into sub zero temperature water fully clothed. It was a very tense time and needed calm, prompt actions. Heather managed to break the ice enough to reach her hand out for me to reach her and for both myself and Heather Lodge to pull her out. Once out I removed as much of her icy cold clothing and rushed her to the room and into a warm shower. Not the best start to our first visit to the biggest BDO darts competition in the world however the main thing was that Heather was alive and warm again.
The darts began with the doubles competition, a nice warm up for the main games. I was ecstatic ( but a little nervous) to be partnering the awesome Heart of Darts - Deta Hedman. Our first game was even more nerve racking due to the fact we were on the streaming lane. I need to learn to keep calm with streaming, cameras and video cameras. It's all new to me.
We played well together sharing the scoring and finishes. We played our good friends Nikki and Sandra ( aka Norfolk on tour ) it was a good game with us coming out the victors. Playing with such an icon for the sport also gave me a boost. in our next game Deta set up a 170 checkout for me on the streaming lane. With our opponents quite a way back in the 701 legs I stepped up to hit two treble twenties. I stopped briefly thinking it would be extremely cheeky of me to even go for the bull but due to my support and confidence I threw and hit the Bullseye in the dead centre. My first ever 170 checkout in all my years of playing!!
We then faced a very strong team with Kathy Geeraerts and her partner. It went all the way to the deciding leg.... then another disaster! My dart bounced out of the board and my stem snapped. I went into my darts case to find I had no other stems!!! I often give them to people if they need them howevr I was not aware that I had given them all away & that I had none left!.
Deta had set me up with an 82 finish and I only had 2 of my own darts. With our opponents also on a two dart finish. My lovely friend Nikki immediately gave me one of her stems ( which was nothing like mine but still gratefully received ). Worried and anxious already I stepped up to the oche with my own two darts to use first. I sweetly hit the treble 14, nicely followed up with double top! 82 in two...Boom! Disaster averted.
Into the last 8 pairs Deta and myself found us playing a very clinical Mikuru Suzuki and partner. A great game was had but unfortunately that's where our pairs journey ended. Some fabulous experience with fantastic players. The darts Venue De Bonte Weever is a gigantic hotel. There were people everywhere. Approx 3000 people from all over the world were in attendance making this category A+ comp the biggest in the BDO darting calendar.
My singles campaign started on the Saturday. I had a bye the first round so after breakfast I went back to my room to chill and prepare. Once I settled after a 3.1 victory in my first game I found myself playing my Lancashire team mate and dear friend Sue Cusick. Our games never seem to be classics, they're always a good old slug fest of games. This game was no exception. With legs tied at 2.2 we entered the deciding leg. Disaster number 3. From nowhere the marker passed out and fell to the floor during my throw.
It was extremely warm in the venue with all the players. It was also hard as I don't think many people were actually drinking water due to it being charged at 2.50 Euros. After a good 20 minutes and the girl coming round we were to pick up where we'd left off. Our game didn't take much longer from here, I set myself up on a finish and once up at the oche I hit it. It's so hard when you're playing a friend but I was so happy to have won this time.
I continued on with games coming thicker and faster. I was finding it hard to play, mark and play again in such heat. I could see this in my darts. I drew a very talented young Dutch girl whom had knocked Lisa Ashton out in the earlier stages. I really needed to play! A nice 140 checkout set it up to go to the deciding leg. I had come back from 3.1 down to win 4.3 and move on and into the last 8 ladies!
My last 8 game was against the very in form Mikuru Suzuki. Playing on the streaming lane and against the World champion was both extremely nerve racking but exhilarating at the same time. A couple of my throws were sloppy. Mikuru never missed a thing. Despite being down with her every leg I just didn't get any chances at doubles.
Last 8 in the pairs and last 8 in the singles at such a massive event with such amazing players is good for me. The prize money gained will go into a pot to help towards the Scottish and Slovak open later this month. 28 ranking points will help me move up in the rankings and ever closer to fulfilling my dream.
I want to give a big shout out to my brother and Heather for taking me to these events. And also to all my friends who support me each time, whether it be being behind me cheering me on or just simply wishing me luck. I love each and every one.
A special message to my roomie Heather Draper.... No more incidents please. Haha xx
It is however with great sadness that darts loses one of its best loved people. My friend and supporter Stephen Bonnet passed away suddenly just before the Dutch Open. I am sure he was watching over me in Assen & guided me into the Bull for my 170! Goodnight god bless my friend -you will never be forgotten!