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  • Writer's pictureJo Clements

Holland, you were emotional!

The time had come for another year's Dutch Open, back in Assen. This competition is by far the biggest on the WDF circuit with over 5000+ darters and fans. It carries the ONLY Platinum ranking points on the tour, so is always heavily attended.

Due to the fact the venue hotel was full to capacity we had rooms in the City Hotel De Jonge. It was beautiful, spacious and comfortable and only a few steps from local shops and places to eat, and also within a 5 minute walk from the train station!

After getting up at 6am Friday, we finally arrived over 15 hours later. We got some food and went straight the bed as we were all shattered from our travels.

I got up Saturday and felt amazing! Slept so well! I was raring to get to the venue and play some darts and support my friends. That was short lived.

I won my first game at 12pm 3.0 on the streaming lane. Good job I was in mobile signal area as my players card told me one board but Darts Connect told me it was on the streaming lane. It wasn't pretty but getting the first game under my belt settled the slight nerves.

I went back to the VIP room via the short cut where I had a drink, practiced on and off and then relaxed as I was not due to play again until 14.20. This is where everything went wrong.

So just before 2pm I decided to re loosen my arm and have a practise. Once I had completed my short practice I went to the toilet which was outside the VIP room and at the other side of some 5 deep rows of people. I got back into the VIP room to collect my darts and case before proceeding to my original board.

Whilst en route I was asked about my darts shirt and who designed it, they proceeded to photograph it. I proceeded to battle my way through the hoards of people to get to the playing area. Many games were going on in the room and there were many observers too. I pushed my way through the crowd to find the break in the barrier to let me into the players zone.

Once I got to my lane I saw a Dutch Official talking with a lady. I then saw her doing something on the Darts Connect tablet before talking again with the lady. Once the official came off the player Lane and back through the barriers I introduced myself, thinking she was getting my name from the tablet or see who it was the lady was due to play. So I introduced myself.

I explained that I had set off in good time to the room after using the toilet and working my way through the crowds. I also explained that I had been in the room a short time as I saw their conversations, the altering of the tablet etc. The official explained that I was late, therefore I had been disqualified.

I politely explained again that I had been there the whole time she had walked, talked and altered the tablet etc. She advised she would need to call someone else.

A polite discussion was had between the Dutch Officials and myself. I explained my case and yes, I did apologise that I was not at my board 10 mins before. Despite being advised and assured that rules had been followed they still advised that they would tell my opponent I was there and if she was happy to play. This gave me a slight renewed hope. Unfortunately for me she declined, my hope was dashed.

I disappointingly accepted my expulsion and left feedback with the organisers in relation to Microphones being used to call some people however if those people were in the VIP area then it would not be heard as there was no speaker in there. I explained some players were being called whilst others in the VIP were oblivious.

I also explained that it takes quite a bit of time working your way out of the VIP room, through the main part of hotel up into the playing areas due to the hoards of people.

The event officials advised that there is a 15 minute grace period which starts 10 minutes before you're due to start you game, plus another 5 minutes after. Therefore, for me final time to show was 14.25pm. Based on my watch I got into the correct playing area not long after that time.

The officials explained that it was not only the rules as to why I was disqualified, but it was also I was "unlucky". They advised that the Darts Connect system was amended at 14.28pm (just 3 mins over my allowed grace period) as they thought I had not turned up or they could not see me. It was "unlucky" because the person in charge of disqualifications was in my playing room at the time. If he had been elsewhere then it would've been likely I would not have been scrubbed at the time I had been and all would've been well.

My explanation to that was I was most probably entering/or was I the room just as the button was being pushed and at the same time the main male official had left the room. I also advised that no one would know exactly who is who in such a massive field of players and spectators. They did acknowledge this.

Not only had my chances of getting some more WDF ranking points gone but I had wasted not only my annual leave, time and money by being ever so slightly late. It was a bitter sweet pill to swallow as I have never been late to a comp, ever. I had to accept and respect that rules were rules.

However, this is where things started to arise and there became some unrest within the players circles.

A fellow female player and her friends advised me that she had been in the very same predicament as my opponent. She was waiting for a late player. She confirmed that she approached the officials advising 15 minutes had passed but was advised to wait longer. After another short wait, she approached again as was advised to wait as the player was coming. Her opponent then entered the room and played her game. Therefore she had easily had over her 15 minutes grace and it was highly unlikely she got there in less time for which I was scrubbed at. Rather inconsistent! Perhaps this late player was just "lucky". But, surely rules are rules. One rule for one, one for all?

This upset me as I was not given anything more than 3 minutes after my grace period, yet the players opponent was allowed longer, and despite being late, was allowed to play her game

A close friend of mine was also expelled from the competition for failure to mark. Again, she was just outside the grace period and went back in to mark as soon as she realised (there were no instructions on the players cards regarding marking). Again there were inconsistencies here as another fellow player and her opponent waited 40 minutes for their allocated marker to turn up. When she didn't the organisers advised them to find a replacement. It is highly likely that if their marker had come in she would've been able to mark, whilst well outside the allotted grace period.

This visit to the biggest and what I felt was the best comp on the circuit was tarnished by big inconsistencies between rules.

Rules are rules and should be handled in a consistent and uniform way. The organisers, NDB staff and officials all work so hard to make competitions inclusive and successful and I am sure they tried their best here but perhaps the competition has grown so much that it is too complicated to manage and police consistently.

Going forwards I am going to be at my board well before time. I am not going to rely on mobile texts as sometimes I just don't get signal. I had the best time despite the upset - with our lil group of friends. The TURTLES LIVE ON! Cowabunga dudes haha.

I have some exciting things coming up and can't wait for a busy few darting weeks, starting next weekend when Lancashire head to Lincolnshire.

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