Bicycles and more darts from Wolverhampton
More then 100 years from 1868 to 1975 lots of bicycle industry, more than 200 manufactures, came from Wolverhampton - the best known probably Viking Cycles. The Viking Cycles team dominated the sport in the 1950's. In 1965 Viking Cycles produced 20 000 cycles a year - handmade to be sure. During the 1980's the last small manufactures closed as well among them Percy Stallard. Today not a single manufacturer can still be found in Wolverhampton
Already Percy's father had owned a cycle shop. Percy was for many years a professional cyclist. Later he worked as coach and team captain as well. Despite all his national and international triumphs Stallard is best known because he took a stand for mass start races on British roads. Lone racing against the clock had been for many year's a British speciality but then it was decided that a mass start event would take place in the Olympics in which the British cyclists had no experience at all as it was banned in the 19 century from British roads.
The national British Cyclist's Union decided to open race courses for cyclist as it showed the cyclist needed the experienced. One of the reasons was that they never had learned to cycle standing on the pedals - it was not necessary in racing against clock but definitely necessary when cycling up hills on rough roads. Stallard was not happy with the situation and started a campaign for mass start races. When the national cyclists union didn't back him he founded an own organisation and organised a street race between Llangollen and Wolverhampton which attracted a big crowd and was supported by the police. It didn't take long and Stallard fell out with his own organisation as well - he just couldn't bear when people didn't share his opinion.
When he was 56 he took part in his last race. As he already was a veteran and far beyond the allowed age of 40 he found a league of Veteran Racing Cyclists and of course it didn't long before disagreements started again.Stallard continued to cycle into the high age, he cycled 1965 on his own over the Theodul Pass between Switzerland an Italy, walked a lot and long distances and travelled all over the world. The rebellious cyclist from Wolverhampton died 2001 92 years old.
The dart players on the stage in Wolverhampton are far less old, Phil Taylor and Martin Adams are with 56 and 60 the oldest, but a little bit of rebellion of the upcoming players one could feel during the third group matches of groups A, D, E and H. Though you can't say performance depended on the age.Adrian Lewis didn't manage a single match and was in his last match almost steam rolled by Benito van de Pas who had already qualified anyway. Phil Taylor almost played even worst then on the day before against Ian White but this time lost deservedly 5:0 against Darren Webster - who was so delighted he forgot his darts in the board.
Brendan Dolan didn't convince at all against Martin Adams but nevertheless won. So Max Hopp was eliminated as he lost to Michael van Gerwen but his performances in the end were not much better then Dolan's. With the exception of Michael van Gerwen group A to be sure was no tournament highlight. Group D turned to be out quite dramatic. Phil Taylor was through already but who would reach second place. Wayne Mardle voted for Ian White and almost, almost he was right as Darryl Fitton got a very very close win. Perhaps he should have asked me for my predictions.
Group H was quite surprising as well beside the already qualified Benito van de Pas it was Chris Dobey who progressed - I don't think any people had predicted this as the other group members were Adrian Lewis and Scott Mitchell. From group E I was sure Gary Anderson would progress but I was not quite sure who would manage beside him. I though Alan Norris could be a strong rival for Glen Durrant despite I though Durrant was a strong and consistent player. I was sure Anderson would progress as it already look to me he returned to form during the World Series of Darts Finals.
My ideas for the last group matches of groups B, C, F and G???? I will not tell you but you can read all about the to be sure as well thrilling matches in my next article.