Grand Slam of Darts 2016 - 4

More Bicycles and even more Darts
The Viking Cycle Company was founded in 1908 by Alfred Victor Davies in Wolverhampton. Davies worked for the railway - a secure but badly payed job for a married man with three children. So he had started to repair bicycles and - later - motorcycles in his spare time. Cycling was very popular at that time. The railway didn't allow the employees any side jobs and when they found out Davies was faced with the choice either to give up the side job or to be discharged. Davies decided for the side job - certainly a courageous choice at the time.

The first years were not easy for the family. But then the company started to prosper and grow. One had to look for new premises several times. In the 1930s the company started to build own frames and stopped to be only a company to assemble bicycles. Alfred Davis stayed at the head of the company till the World War II when his son Reg took over. Reg expanded the company and the yearly production increased to 20 000 bicycles in the 1960s.. After World War II. the company decided to build up an own racing team. The Viking Cycle Team was founded in 1948 - the best known member was Bob Thom who before together with Percy Stallard and Ray Jones had been part of the Wolverhampton Wheelers. The Viking Cycle Team was very successful and as a result the company flourished as well. Viking had at its peak time 1250 dealers everywhere in the UK, all dealers wanted to be able to sale the prospering make.

After the end of his active carrier Bob Thom started to work as sales manager for Viking. Mid of the 1960s the sales figures dropped. As a reaction the company tried to make its mark as producer of children's bicycles which were very much on demand in those years. Red Davies developed a frame which would grow with the children and for a short time it looked much better for the company. But in 1967 they had to cease production. The company was sold to two Americans who started production again in Londonderry but only as a company which assembles cycles from bought parts. Reg Davies who had been a good cyclist and had always been well aware what the requirements on a really good bicycle were, lived till his death 1994 in Wolverhampton. He passed his time writing poems, composing and from 1984 till his death took part in several marathons and other races.

Tuesday evening with the last group matches of the groups B, C, F and G was my last evening in Wolverhampton as well- The Civic Hall was not really full but the atmosphere nevertheless great and we all had a thrilling evening. For this last group matches the players finally got an own "single" walk-on. James Wade and Peter Wright - both already qualified for the next round - opened the evening with their matches. Dave Chisnall finally found his doubles again and won against Wade. For Wade the match was of interest while by this defeat he lost the first place in the table and now had to play not against Chris Dobey but against Benito van de Pas. Peter Wright won against Ted Evetts - a match without consequence.

Next up was Dimitri van den Bergh v Scott Waites. Van den Bergh won and looked like he couldn't believe it. This match could be of consequence for the players in group B and when Robert Thornton lost to Gerwyn Price it really was of consequence as now Gerwyn Price topped the table and to decide who would join him in the next round a nine-dart shoot-out between van den Bergh and Thornton was necessary. Thornton won it by 4 points.

BDO player Danny Noppert had no problems with Nathan Aspinall and progressed into round two as did his BDO colleagues Jamie Hughes and Jeff Smith. Both - the Hughes v Wilson and the Smith v Whitlock match were close matches and in the latter Smith last dart on the bullseye decided the outcome of the match. Hughes by his win over Wilson topped the table in group G sitting before Wade, Wilson and Chisnall - to be sure no one would have predicted the result. In group F Raymond van Barneveld produced another vintage performance against Mensur Suljovic. The Austrian was eliminated - the Dutchman was in this tournament too strong for him.

It was an evening with surprises and thrill - an interesting evening. After the group phase five BDO players were still in the tournament. Seven from eight seeded players were still in and with Chris Dobey one of the qualifiers. It still looks Michael van Gerwen probably will defend his title but it could be his road there might not be easy.

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