Hylton^s Frequent Flyer
" Well not the ideal start to a new season. Drawing your practice partner and going down 4-6 and being on the receiving end of a 9 darter! Seriously though congratulations to Ian who has been playing very well for quite some time without too many folk sitting up an taking notice. Other team Red Dragon members started the season well with Sean Griffiths making good runs on both days. It will soon settle I am sure with the new payers and new rules coming into play and everyone just taking a little time to ease into a vital and very tough 12 months ahead. I am very much looking forward to the UK Open Qualifiers in Crawley. The Open is a little special for me due to it being both my first TV appearance, as an amateur in 2007 and my first televised major Qtr last year. Here’s hoping for a good start to this years event……Mixed would be a fair comment, played very well on the Saturday only to outdone by Hurricane again least said about Sunday the better, still off and running and in a qualifying position at least."
Little change in the Red Dragon World Rankings this month. We are sure to witness some dramatic surges over the coming year. Will Adrian Lewis or James Wade finally remove Phil Taylor from his number one spot? Will it happen here first or in the official Order of Merit? Meanwhile the BDO Rankings are in need of a rework, with many of the top 50 already in possession of PDC Tour cards or PDPA membership. Youth and Open Rankings are remaining relatively unchanged at this time of year. Jamie Wilsons strong form will be reflected in all ranking arena’s soon I am sure.
The 3rd Way-
The Open Tour is still enjoying ones of its strongest spells in the year, with multiple events across the country almost every weekend. Genn Durrant claimed the Teeside Open from a field of over 120. Robbie Green came out on top in the Gwynedd Open. I had a very good day myself and finally won the Staffordshire (Lionel Smith) Open after many years of trying. A special mention to Nick Fulwell, Hero has turned a corner and claimed the difficult 1st Friday Event in Sutton Coldfield and The VFM Open in Stirchely the next day. The fields in January/February have been very strong with few professional events and some very well established and well run competitions to attend. Field in excess of 100 have been the norm and it has been very good to see.
In Your Corner –
So far in this we have looked at the role of The Driver & Practice Partners. This time The Commercial Sponsor comes into the spotlight. The commercial sponsor is the type who pay/reward the player in return for advertising their company/brand/logo etc. These vary from player to player and company to company, some give their products or services as a reward to the player, some give a % of business generated and some pay a fee in return for agreed exposure. They are vital to the player wishing to climb the rankings. Good commercial sponsors can relive the pressures of the pro game. Sometimes they can help generate more exposure and therefor exhibitions or other income. In many cases they often become friends and enjoy long term mutually beneficial relations. Dart companies such as Red Dragon can actually help you improve your game and others can assist in area’s such as nutrition or equipment. They can also provide a welcome distraction. Days away on sponsors business or a personal appearance can both boost the ego and take you away from yourself a little.
All the way from the pub that help its best player through to ICI & Sky TV sponsoring our world champions, these sponsors are vital to players and the game overall. Many thanks to them all.
Unsung Heroes –
This week’s unsung hero is Lionel Smith, despite passing away in 2001 Lionel has often been in my thoughts since I joined the PDC. It was he who really encouraged me to take darts seriously and apply myself. Lionel represented England and twice reached the last 32 of the English Professional Darts Championships during the 1980’s golden era, he was defeated by Dave Whitcomb & Cliff Lazerenko respectively. I played with Lionel for The Thorn Club in the early 1990’s he was a gentleman and a darting great. For further evidence even Martin Adams cites Lionel as an inspiration, this time because Lionel was still representing Staffordshire County A in 2001 at the age of 75! It gave me great pleasure to win the Staffordshire Open this week and it would be lovely to think that it could once again carry the name of my `unsung hero’ Lionel Smith.
"Mile High” Memoirs -
The 1st weekend of February seems to be one that suits "Mile High”. On Feb 5th in 2010 he made his PDC debut and won his first professional game, Feb 6th 2011 saw the VIP Lounge Title claimed & Feb 4th 2012 sees the Staffordshire Open fall at last. The 2nd weekend however has never been as good!