Darts and Green Men

Some of you might remember one of my articles from last year where I told the story of GuyFawkes and the Gunpowder plot. This year I could experience how it is remembered and celebrated - as soon as nightfall started it cracked and banged around me.

My hotel room was not in the right direction but I nevertheless made out all the cracking and banging was divers and long time firework. It's called the firework season and as I could read in the newspapers there are always causalities.

Firework has a long tradition and probably started with the bonfires in February to celebrate the end of wintertime. Later part of those bonfires it was that children created their own guy and collected wood for the fire. Who had produced the best guy and collected the most wood, got a few pennies for the efforts. The money of course was used to buy some fireworks. It can be that in the beginnings human beings were sacrificed in the fires that later were substituted by the fake guys.
When in the 13. century a monk in England "invented" the gunpowder (well in fact it had been invented much earlier in China) the English soon found out that you could not use the gunpowder only to in wars and for guns. In 1486 the first recorded firework took place to celebrate a royal marriage- The English royals loved fireworks and had always an own fire master. Probably a lot know George Frederic Handel's fireworks music which was composed for such a royal firework. And William Shakespeare included fireworks in some of his plays though his experience with fireworks was not only positive - his London Globe theatre was burned to the ground by a stray firecracker.

But what about those green men? Till today the pyrotechnics in England don't wish "Good Luck" before a firework but "Stay Green"! In England the Green Man is some kind of mystical character, a symbol for the renewing force of nature and of fertility. One believed that the pyrotechnics were save, when they cloaked themselves with green leaves till the looked like a moving tree. Especially protected were the head and the hands. That's not only some kind of superstition - the damp green really has some kind of isolating effect against flames and sparks and prevents that flying sparks change them into living torches. The green men often walked at the head of parades of fire workers who threw some kind of crackers into the crowds. Till today the Bridgewater Carnival is celebrated where in the parade the fireworks wear some kind of rods in their hands with squibs at the ends which are lighted during the parade. So you can only wish "Stay Green"!

I hope all those who thought I was talking about Michael van Gerwen are not too disappointed. Stay tuned - he will appear soon!!!.

Lucky for me the cracking stopped at a reasonable time and I arrived after a good nights sleep wide awake at the Civic Hall. The press room was enlarged at the players lounge costs and was already well fill though I couldn't identify all the people. Till I had connected with the internet and had settled the first match already started. It was not really a surprise Kim Huybrechts and Terry Jenkins won their group matches. I myself was surprised though that Vincent van der Voort was so much stronger then Robert Thornton. Alan Norris first looked rather nervous while Ronny Huybrechts started quite strong. But Norris managed to gain control and won the match. He didn't yet show his enormous scoring power but perhaps we'll be able to enjoy that in the next matches.
Then the reigning World Youth Champion came on stage but he looked rather intimidated and played like this as well while his opponent Dave Chisnall showed a great performance. And here we are - the Green Man comes on stage for the first time! But his opponent wildcard qualifier Darren Webster didn't look impressed at all and the green man had suddenly a real big problem. Webster managed a 4:0 lead and van Gerwen had to give all to first draw and then win the match 5:4. Might be he had just under estimated his opponent.
Raymond van Barneveld didn't play as well as van Gerwen in his run over five legs but he got nevertheless a clear win against Robbie Green. The last match of the afternoon was the big upset of the day: Adrian Lewis, who didn't look focused and played certainly too nonchalant, lost to debutant Rowby-John Rodriguez. Rodriguez had looked rather unsure at the beginning of the match, but got more and more courageous during the match when he realised Lewis mad a lot of mistakes and was far from clinical on his doubles. So Rodriguez got a lot of chances. First he looked like he couldn't really believe it but then he started to take them and it was a deserved win.

The evening began with the match between Andy Hamilton and Christian Kist who both had first to grope their way into the match. Kist then was the clearly dominating player. Stephen Bunting in the next math had no problems at all with former BDO colleague Wesley Harms. Harms is at the moment out of form what already showed during the World Masters. It followed a thrilling and close match between Mervyn King and Tony O'Shea - King prevailed in the end. Peter Wright had a much easier match - Brendan Dolan never was in it. Might be the Irish player had lost his focus because it took some time till both players were happy with the board.
Gary Anderson was not really clinical on his doubles but accurate enough to steamroll Dean Winstanley. Richie George had no chance at all against a Phil Taylor in good mood - we'll see which Taylor will turn up in the next matches. Simon Whitlock started strong but faded after two won legs but might be it was more that Michael Smith got stronger and stronger. It was a rather one sided affair. James Wade showed great form again and Jamie Caven just couldn't keep up.

It was a good first day with some really great matches - and I am looking forward to the second day already!

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