Family Ties 3

There is much more...

The third Minehead article again deals with the Normans, dart players and the darts and where it deals with the Normans it gets complicated.
For a start - the Normans were no Frenchmen at all but descendants of the Vikings. And those Northmen or Vikings had already invaded England several times long before William the Conqueror appeared there. With Dane Cnut II, called the Great, some years before William a Viking descendant sat on the English throne and the country had some peaceful years. His weak English rival Cnut II had disposed of and he later married his second wife, Emma from Normandy. Due to his family ties Cnut II was not only King of England but of Norway, Denmark and parts of Sweden as well.

Were already the family ties of Cnut II quite confusing it got even worse with his successors. Following on the throne was stepson Edward who was the son of Cnut's predecessor, who had grown up in the Normandy. Despite he was married he and his wife never had any children - one believes he kept a pledge to stay without children. So when he died there were all in all three contenders for the throne and it got even more chaotic.
One of the contenders was William the conqueror - a distant cousin of Edward. William got on the Norman throne somewhat surprisingly. He was the illegitimate son of the younger brother of the king. His father was loyal to his mother all his life but they never married. So William was a bastard on the throne - a real scandal at those times. William all his life insisted Edward had proclaimed him as his successors when he had visited him in England but there doesn't exist any prove. But William never thought he "invaded" England - he only went there to push his claim...

But back to the much less complicated dart players family ties. Just across from Minehead in the same bay lies at the Bristol Channel Burnham-on Sea. And there in Rookbridge one really can find a pub in which one still can play darts - the Wellington Arms. It's an old pub first mentioned already in 1770. In the late years of the last century it was closed but Gary Anderson and his partner Rachel reopened it again. In 2011 Rachel's sister and her husband Steve Grubb took over.
Steve was never really successful on the PDC Pro Tour and has lost his Tour Card last year. Now he's an associate member of the PDPA. He played all the UK Open qualifiers but failed to qualify this year. Grubb from time to time organizes tournaments in his pub and plays himself with an own team in Somerset Super League together with one of the legends of the sport - and Steve's close friend - Mike Gregory.

The final day of the UK Open started with the quarterfinals - and when they were over only a single absolute top player had survived: Michael van Gerwen. Phil Taylor had lost to an as unleashed Peter Wright who was very emotional after his win. Mensur Suljovic was out as well - Andrew Gilding just was better on the day. During the other two quarterfinals the atmosphere on stage was more amicably - Petersen and King were eliminated, but didn't look too heartbroken.

Then a break followed before the two semifinals. Gilding and van Gerwen smoked their cigarettes peacefully in the cold outside the venue, Bunting relaxed with friends and Wright was touched-up but not redecorated.

The first semifinal was between Bunting and Wright and it was a very strange match because Bunting was some kind of total failure and Wright overrun him 10:0. So the match was soon over and - as all was televised - there was a longer break before van Gerwen and Gilding came on stage. The second semi-final was in its way as strange as the first one. Van Gerwen played good, even great but he couldn't get rid of Gilding, Gilding put up resistance! And it was Gilding who only just missed the nine-darter - not the Dutchman. Gilding was clinical with his finishing and not afraid of high finishs. In the end van Gerwen managed to survive 10:8. It was an interesting experience to watch the semifinal beside Rod Harrington.

After another break which gave everybody time to recover - the with much anticipation waited for final started. Wright seemed to be more tired than van Gerwen and couldn't keep up his great performances of the day while the Dutchman despite his hard match against Gilding dominated and deservedly won the match. It was van Gerwen's first UK Open title. Wright didn't look he enjoyed celebrating with van Gerwen - he was disappointed and after the ceremony soon left the venue. Van Gerwen on his part was still there when I had packed together my things and began my way back to my accommodation...

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