Kevin Dowling PDC Reports

On this page you will see all Kevin’s latest exploits on the PDC Circuit. Also added are his reports from his Appearances for the County.

Kevin Dowling

World Qualifier – Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 1st December 2014.

I had a nice run up to the PDC World Championship qualifier last Monday. On the Friday before it was the local Friday night Coundon league singles. Then on Saturday I was off to a practice session with our usual crowd and on Sunday I was playing for the county A team. Little did I realise that all would not go to plan!

I didn’t get in any long practice sessions in the week before but I managed to squeeze in a few mini ones and my form was better than it had been leading up to the pro tour weekend at the Ricoh. On the Wednesday I was poorly, very very tired and off my food which isn’t like me. How I managed to get home from work I don’t know as I really had become very drained. All I could hope was that it wasn’t a virus.

Thankfully on Thursday morning I was a lot better although still not 100%. On Friday night I went to the singles at the Bishopsgate. The Coundon league is one of the best local leagues and the singles is always tough. Unfortunately I played my best darts before the event began. As the night progressed I had a few problems with my contact lens and just felt generally colder and colder and it became a bad night at the office. I tried really hard to turn things round but it wasn’t to be. I won my first game against Len Randle 3-1 hitting 3 x 180’S but to be honest it wasn’t good and the maximums painted over the cracks rather. In the second round I played a bit better and edged past Adam Paxton 3-2. In the quarters I played Jim Macdonald and after some iffy finishing found myself 2-0 down. Jim could have taken it 3-0 but I did manage to level at 2-2. In the decider I had more chances at the the double before Jim won the match with a 110 checkout, hitting sixty, bullseye! I was disappointed with myself but well played Jim for a brilliant finish. Ian McFarlane went on to deservedly win the event edging out the ever improving Michael Spencer in the final.

Onto Sunday and the county match and another good chance for a day of good practice not to mention a tough match on up on stage. Warwickshire’s opponents for the weekend were Lincolnshire. Practice went very well and I had a long wait to play after coming out number 10 in the draw. I played an okay first leg but missed several darts at various doubles and found myself one down. I fought back well and went 3-1 up including a 180 and a 117 checkout and left tops in the fifth. I went over to the table for a sip of water and watched my opponent, Jock Watt, leave himself 110. As I walked to the oche I suddenly realised that I was gasping for breath. I stood still on the oche for a couple of seconds but it was no good I had to move and try to gulp some air. I could see panic on the MC’s (Dave Conroy) face and tried to hold up my hand to signal that it was going to be okay in a few moments but as I couldn’t talk it didn’t really help. Other people were rushing to the front and all I felt was embarrassment at causing a fuss and more importantly disrupting my opponent. After about two or three minutes I was feeling reasonably okay again and was breathing more normally again which was a relief. I apologised to everyone around me but they were all just concerned about me.

Dave explained what had happened to the room and when I approached the oche to carry on, I got what I consider to be an undeserved round of applause. But to feel that warmth towards me from everyone is something that I will never forget. Darts people are second to none when it comes to camaraderie and sportsmanship and I thank everyone in that room from Warwickshire and Lincolnshire that reacted in the way they did towards me. The match almost became insignificant at this point but I did take the leg to win 4-1. I am not sure how many times I apologised to Jock for what happened but he is one hell of a top guy and kept saying that my health was more important than any game of darts!

What happened to me up there has happened before but never on a county stage. I am already in the process of getting myself looked at properly. Having it happen to me is one thing but having other people have to witness it is not fair! Apologies again all.

Warwickshire won the overall match 20-16 and the men’s A 8-4. Apart from the obvious bad point, it was a privilege to pull on the shirt again, thanks to the committee for giving me the opportunity and hopefully I will be back again at some point in the future.

And finally on to the title of this piece, the PDC world championship qualifiers. I was up around 7.30 on the Monday morning and set off around 9.10 for the Ricoh. For me it was just a 12 minute stroll and I was there on the board by 9.25. It was soon obvious that people had read my facebook status from the day before and again I was overwhelmed by people’s concern and good wishes. BDO or PDC, darts is a great family atmosphere.

I tried to concentrate on smoothness of throw during practice as that seems to be what has been lacking with my game lately and it was all a bit erratic. The draw was made and I had a tough group to start with, but they were all tough. 134 players for just 2 places so there wasn’t much margin for error.

My first round opponent was Jamie Robinson from Essex, a quality player and former England international. As I was bottom of the draw on my group, I was supposed to mark the first game but Joanne kindly volunteered to go home and change into trousers so she could mark instead. This gave me extra time to practice giving me more chance. Thanks Jo, I owe you one!

I lost the bull up to Jamie but broke throw in the opener in 17 (43-100-120-100-102-40) darts. The next four legs all went with throw with me winning in 17 (44-137-80-121-87-32) & 21 (with 180) darts and Jamie replying in 15 (180-60-100-95-66) & 17 to leave me 3-2 up. I then held throw in 14 (140-140-98-98-25) before breaking again in 14 (58-140-133-134-36) to take the match 5-2. Afterwards Jamie kindly said he had just been playing at Yarmouth and there was no-one there as good as I had just played. So far so good.

Next up for me was Jim Walker from Leicestershire, one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and a great player. Again I lost the bull and Jim took the opener in 15 (140-78-140-131-12) darts. I won the second scrappily in 20 darts to level, and then missed a chance in the next only to see Jim take it in 17 darts. Jim then crucially broke in 13 (140-140-100-81-40) darts to lead 3-1. In the fifth leg I had plenty of chances to break back but all were missed and when Jim took it in 22 I had a mountain to climb. The match ended 5-1 in Jim’s favour after an 18 darter from him and that was the end of another dream. I had been a little erratic but had also missed chances and you just cannot do it in this company. Jim had played better than me and I wished him well.

I marked the next match on the board which was Jim against Matt Edgar. Jim played better than he did against me but after opening up a 4-1 lead he started missing doubles, and Matt came back to win 5-4. Matt told me it was the second time already that he had come back from 4-1 down and upon hearing that, I really thought it would be his day. Sadly Matt was edged out by Jason Hogg in the final. Having done it three times myself (losing at the last hurdle) I know how much he is hurting, but Matt is young enough and confident enough to bounce back and get it done next time.

Next up for me PDC wise will be the 2015 Q school as I have now lost my tour card. I wasn’t too far from retaining it but not quite good enough. Every year I get older and it gets tougher but I will be there in January giving it my best shot. I will then assess how I get on and then plan my attack for the year from there.

Thanks everyone for your ongoing feedback when I see you out and about and thanks for reading.

Good darting everyone and have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Cheers,

Kev.

Wigan 19th January 2014

Well the dust has barely settled following the big two world championship extravaganzas, yet it was time to do battle once again on the PDC pro tour.
Like many of you I am sure I was checking the Internet during last week for news of the PDC Q School at Wigan where many of our local players were competing. From personal experience I can vouch that it is four days of incredibly hard physical and mental slog and when I got there on Sunday for two European qualifying events, the lads were definitely ready to go home. They were all darted out! Steve Hine and Nigel Heydon had been successful in earning themselves a tour card while the rest certainly had their moments and have the consolation of being able to compete on the new challenge tour.
Joanne was kind enough to drive me up to Wigan on the Sunday morning and after getting up at 5.45am we arrived in Wigan at 8.10. When you are 50 minutes early on a wet Sunday morning in Wigan what do you do? Answer – go to McDonalds for a sausage and egg Mcmuffin and a coffee! Usually I don’t do McDonalds but any port in a storm .
We were at the venue for 9.00 and unsurprisingly it was nigh on empty. I could see Daryl Gurney and Darren Webster on the boards already but the Q schoolers were all having a lie in after four hard days!
The qualifiers were for an event in Germany at the end of the month and one in Holland in February. This year the events have been trimmed from 64 to 48 players, which means that there are 16 less seeds. Those seeds have now been placed into the qualifying event, which in turn makes those harder.
When the draw for the first one was made it revealed I would be playing Terry Jenkins who was one of those “seeds” that now had to pre qualify. It was a tough draw but I had been playing well in the run up to the competition and I was confident.
The downside to my draw was I had to mark the first match on the board and so it cut down my practice time as there was only one other game in between. Of course the match I marked went 10 legs too, I am lucky like that When match time arrived I won the bull up at thethird attempt and I hit the ground running. I won the first three legs in 15 (137, 95, 99, 98, 72), 15 & 15 (140, 100, 60, 100, 101) darts to lead 3-0. In the latter of those Terry wired the bull for a 161 checkout and was playing well too. The fourth leg was frustrating for me as I missed a 64 checkout for a 4-0 lead hitting treble 16, but missing doubles 8 and 4, the latter of which was on the wire! Terry took it last dart for a 21 darter and then mounted a comeback. He broke back in the next with a 15 darter and then took the next in 18 after I had wired double 10 for a 137 checkout. He then broke me for a second time in 13 darts to lead 4-3 only for me to retaliate in 14 darts to level again at 4-4. Annoyingly he broke me again in 15 darts to go 5-4 ahead but I responded with another 14 (180, 100, 100, 96, 25) to level at 5-5. What happened next i cannot explain but both of us just could not hit a treble for toffee. I did not feel nervous and was all around the treble but just could not find it and nor could Terry. Whatever I hit he seemed to hit something similar and we both arrived at the double pedestrian fashion. I missed two darts at the double (tops and tens) to win before Terry hit tops with his last dart and took it in 24 darts. It was very disappointing to lose the match given how well I had played in it. Three 15’s and two 14’s says I was playing bloody well. For my sins I then had to chalk again before being able to prepare for the afternoon comp. Terry went on to beat Barry Bates 6-2 to qualify for Germany.

In the Dutch qualifying event I had a prelim against Michael Blake who was a player I knew nothing about. As ever I expected a hard game and again I scored well from the off. However this time I did not find the doubles as easy, but thankfully Michael seemed to struggle at times and I ran out a comfortable 6-0 winner in 19, 19, 19, 14 (140, 136, 53, 140, 32), 14 (100, 96, 140, 95, 70) & 19 (with a 180) darts.
Next up for me was David Pallet who as most of you will probably know is an incredibly talented youngster who is no doubt destined for great things in the future. I lost the bull and we shared the first two legs with him winning in 15 (with a 180) darts and me in 16. He then took the next in 15 after both of us had hit a 180 before breaking me in 15 (3 x 140’s and he bust 81 before hitting it next shot on the bull!) to lead 3-1. He then held in 18 (after another 180) to lead 4-1 before I had a 17 darter (he had another 180) to reduce the deficit to 4-2. Yet another 180 helped him to a 17 darter in the next before he broke me once again in 14 (100, 100, 100, 180, 21) darts to take the match 6-2. I didn’t play too badly in this match but Dave scored awesome and 6 x 180’s in 8 legs takes a lot of living with. Sometimes all you can do is say well played. Dave went on to beat Joe Murnan 6-5 in the final and qualify for Holland.
The PDC is a hard place to play darts and my two matches demonstrated this perfectly. I am gutted about the final leg of my first match because I had played superbly and felt like I threw it away. But overall despite not qualifying for anything I did play well and if I continue like that I will get rewarded in time.
Thanks as ever to Joanne for driving me, supporting me and for recording the stats for this report.
Thanks again for reading. Next events are UK open qualifiers in Wigan on February 7th, 8th and 9th.

Cheshire v Warwickshire – 2nd November 2014.

Heading into the weekend it was looking like a quiet one. Myself and Joanne were going up to Huddersfield on the Sunday to bring back her daughter Isobel who had been staying up there with relatives during the half term week. But apart from that it was darts free……….or so I thought!

Friday morning at work and my phone goes off. It was Neil Pritchard on the other end asking if I would consider playing for the county up at Northwich against Cheshire on the Sunday. Steve Hine was meant to be playing (himself a stand in) but had been called in to work instead. I explained my predicament regarding the trip to Yorkshire on the same day and that I would need to talk to Joanne first.

We had a meeting over a couple of pints and the odd glass of vermouth ( :wink: :wink:) with Neil and Steve Crowther at our Friday night league match and eventually it was agreed by all parties that I would play. Of course it would mean a long day was in store for us having to be up around 7.15 in the morning and lots of driving to do, all for the love of a game darts!

Some people, indeed some counties, criticise those of us that play PDC and then pull on a county shirt. To this day I am not sure why because we don’t get any financial rewards, we happily do the graft and the travelling and all for the joy of pulling on that shirt. I think that generally we set a good example to up and coming players within the county system, why don’t people think of that rather than becoming obsessed with politics that don’t actually exist?

Saturday night I went to the Parkstone club in Coventry for a practice session with my brother Sean and Adam Paxton from the youth team. Poor Joanne had another exciting night out with us! We all had moments when the finishing wasn’t our best but by and large it was a good night’s practice. Thanks guys!

We left Coventry around 8.15 on the Sunday morning in rather rainy conditions. That aside the journey up the M6 was very good, nothing like the slow ones we had on Friday afternoons heading to Wigan earlier in the year. We arrived at the venue around 9.45 and first port of call was the food area for a sausage and bacon batch. I have been on a diet for seven weeks and have shed a stone so far, but darting weekends tend to bring out the worst in me. There is so much healthy food on offer!

Practice at the venue was good and it was fun. Some counties designate that each team will have their own practice board and don’t appear to want the teams to mix. To me part of the fun of playing county is in meeting people from the opposition. I went out into the bar and practised with about half a dozen of the Cheshire players. They were good company (as ever with Cheshire) and it made for an enjoyable time.

I was pulled out at number five when the draw was made which was a bit of a relief. With us having to travel on to Huddersfield afterwards I really didn’t want a late draw, particularly number 12!

I was matched against Mal Barrow in the draw which had a certain amount of irony about it. His wife has a friend in Huddersfield who they visit several times a year and she lives in the same village as where we were heading to later in the day. We had been chatting about the place quite a lot during the practice and I had introduced him to Joanne too, funny how things materialise!

The team trailed 11-7 overnight and the ladies A team managed a good 3-3 draw to start the day off so when the men’s A match began we were 14-10 behind overall. A tough task to pull it back but not impossible.

By the time it was my turn to play the men’s score stood at 2-2. I had the throw but Mal began brilliantly taking a 2-0 lead in 18 & 15 darts. In the second of those legs I had hit a 180 and was handily placed but to no avail. Then I had a huge slice of luck that proved to be pivotal. The third leg was sloppy from both of us and I could have found myself 3-0 down but instead I nicked it in 24 darts to only trail 2-1. After that I felt I played very steady and, although Mal kept me under pressure, I took the next three legs in 17, 16 & 18 darts for a 4-2 win. My average of 27.54 (82.62) was a little disappointing but I was happy to get a win given the hole I had dug myself earlier.

After that we had to make a bit of a sharp exit. I don’t like leaving a match early but we had little choice given that we had to get to Huddersfield and then back home to Coventry. We managed to get back in the end around 9.50pm.

Thanks to Joanne for being so understanding during the day and thanks to the people of Warwickshire for asking me to play and for their support.

Cheers and thanks for reading,

Kev.

PS I found out after getting home that our men’s A team had won 7-5, and therefore Cheshire edged the overall match by 19-17.

Coventry Ricoh Arena – 22nd/23rd November 2014.

The final PDC pro tour events of 2014 were 10 minutes down the road from me at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Heading towards the events it has to be said that my form had been shockingly bad by my own standards.
With a hectic lifestyle like we all lead these days it is often difficult to practice and my only recent match practice was the competitions in the Brian Shaw league on Wednesdays and Friday’s in the Coundon league. I suppose from a results point of view the comps on Wednesdays had gone okay with wins in the Fives and the pairs, but I had an early exit in the singles. What I did find a little irritating was the childish antics of a few people at the pairs event where I teamed up with a good mate Mark Carter. Two good players team up together, heaven forbid. There were a few dollies flying out of the pram that night and one player was still whining about it a week later! Childish isn’t the word, and people wonder why they aren’t liked!
Two days after the pairs we played the Sports Argus charity team from Birmingham at the Bishopsgate club. It has become an annual event when we take on our friends from across the way and try to raise money for charity and is an occasion that we all look forward to.
Young Adam Paxton (thanks Adam) had fitted some longer length points in one set of my darts and I had been using them at the Wednesday comps with mixed results. Erratic would be a better description. I also used them against the Argus and was happier than before thanks to a 2-0 win in 18 & 15 darts. I decided to stick with them for a bit longer.
Longer points was something that Nick Gedney used to use many years back. The idea is that when the darts are in the board the barrels remain a little further back leaving more room for more to follow. In more recent times Mervyn King and Simon Whitlock have encouraged me to have a dabble with longer points so when I saw Adam with his box of points I decided to take the plunge. Ian McFarlane is also a fan of this technique, although it has to be said that his look more like knitting needles than points!
We had a good win 6-3 against the Argus lads who came back well after being 6-0 down at one point. I have so much respect for everyone that travels as part of their squad. They travel all over the midlands playing virtually every Friday night. That takes a hell of a lot of dedication and I am sure is done at each person’s own personal cost. They deserve all of the credit that comes their way for being excellent players and ambassadors and for all the money that they raise for charity. =D>
On the Saturday night we were back at the Bish again, this time to raise some much needed funds for the Warwickshire youth team. Having begun my darting career in the youth team this was a cause close to my heart and it was a pleasure to be one of the players that was asked to perform on the night. Despite a lot of advertising we could have done with a few more adults through the door, but a good time was had by all and we did at least raise a few quid. I believe that Warwickshire’s future is in good hands.
During the week before Coventry my form in practice was terrible. Suddenly the new points were on my mind and were getting the blame! I started with them in the Wednesday singles but discarded them for my old ones before it started. Sometimes the brain is a terrible thing.
By Friday night I was back with the long points again and after a reasonably solid win in the league match I decided to use them at the weekend.
One of the joys of being at home on a PDC weekend means that you get up at 7.00 to take the dog a walk! That is how my day started and after beans on toast and a shower I was off on foot to the Ricoh. I arrived at 9.20 and was straight on the practice board. The first 40 minutes were terrible, no smoothness at all.
At 10.00 the players were ushered in to a room next door for a meeting with Barry Hearn the PDC chairman. I am not just saying it because of who he is but it was a privilege to listen to him. His passion for darts shone through and you can see how he attracts sponsors and drives the game forward. He has his detractors on the BDO side of the fence but they do not get to hear what we do. Or maybe they do now? Barry did say in the meeting that he had recently met with officials from the BDO for the first time, and it was a very good and positive meeting. Let’s hope after the recent positive proposals put forward by the BDO executive that the animosities of the past are left well and truly there. And let’s hope that the trouble making dinosaurs are kept away from proceedings because all they have achieved in the past is to cause animosity and harm.
More practice straight afterwards and suddenly there was an improvement in me. The snatchy throw was replaced by something smoother, progress! The highlight of the session was me being part of a three person nine dart leg! I had the easy part with the first 180. Simon Whitlock followed me with a 180 and then Terry Jenkins duly obliged with a 141 checkout (60-57-24). I know how to pick my partners.  Simon being a hard task master then demanded back to back nine darters. I hit treble 20 with my first dart but alas treble 5 with the second and that was that!
The draw revealed that my first round opponent was John Part, the player that I had been speaking to all morning and had sat next to at the meeting! I hate playing friends but all you can do is get on with it.
I lost the bull and found myself 2-0 down with John winning in 15 (97-140-97-96-71) & 13 (180-100-96-85-40) darts. I stemmed the tide taking the next in 15 (140-140-140-49-32) but John took the next two in 19 & 18 darts and I was 4-1 down. The next leg was not the best from either of but in a strange way proved pivotal. I was left on 66 after 18 darts with John on a double and decided on the bull route. The first dart bounced off the bull wire leaving me with little option but to go 16 for the bull. Luckily for me I got the 16 bull checkout to reduce the arrears to 2-4. I then broke for the first time with a 13 (140-140-135-46-40) darter and then took the next in 17 (140-140-100-26-37-58) to level at 4-4. The next was a tight leg but I managed to break throw again in 15 (100-100-97-140-64) darts and suddenly I was leading 5-4. The next started well for me with scores of 81-140-60-120 and I narrowly missed double 14 for a 15 darter. Next visit I missed three to win the match but luckily for me so did John and finally I took out 14 in 3 darts (7-3-4) for a 21 darter to take the match 6-4. I apologised to John afterwards, I know I shouldn’t, but I really hate playing friends.
Next up was Andrew Gilding in what was a lesson in excellence. I have been beaten 6-0 on tour a few times but aside from one against Gary Anderson I cannot remember playing so well and doing it. I won the bull but Andrew gave me few chances and took the match 6-0 in 13, 17, 16, 15, 14 & 12 darts. I did miss a couple of doubles in legs 2 and 3 and paid for them big time!
I hung around for a while because it was the finals of the annual markers and officials cup. I marked one of the quarter finals and the final between Andrew Davies and Keith Bisbee. Andrew opened up a 3-0 lead which included a 170 checkout but Keith reeled him in to get it back to 3-3. But Andrew regained his composure and took the decider to take the title. It was a pleasure to mark for these guys who do such a good job for us all year and it was a good standard too.
And so it was back to Joanne’s for a take away pizza (I’ve been good for two months!) and then get ready for day two.
Sunday morning soon came round it was back to the Ricoh and on the practice board. Practice was a lot better and my jerkiness had disappeared. The draw revealed my opponent was Wayne Pepper who I had heard of, but didn’t know.
I lost the bull having thrown a pretty rubbish dart at it and went 1-0 down in 20 darts. I responded well with a 15 (140-97-100-96-60) but Wayne then took three in a row in 17, 14 & 16 darts to lead 4-1. Deja-vu? Well I took the next two in 15 (140-140-100-89-32) & 17 darts to get back to 4-3 but then surrendered my throw meekly in 18 darts and I had a mountain to climb. Despite a 180 from Wayne I nicked the ninth leg in 17 darts with a 65 checkout and then left 96 after 12 darts in the next with scores of 85-140-120-60. But that wasn’t enough as Wayne checked out in 12 darts with scores of 96-140-133 and a 132 (25-57-bull) checkout which was brilliant as his 25 was covering the bull! And so I was out 6-4. To be fair Wayne had played well but I was gutted as I thought I had played well too. But somedays someone finds a little extra and I think he did with that marvellous checkout.
My confidence was low heading into the weekend but I feel quite positive after it. I am sticking with the new points and I believe that the old Kev has re-emerged. The pro tour is now over for 2014, next stop is the Ricoh next Monday for the world championship qualifier. Over 100 people for two places but I feel like I have a real chance.

World Qualifier – Ricoh Arena, Coventry, 1st December 2014.

I had a nice run up to the PDC World Championship qualifier last Monday. On the Friday before it was the local Friday night Coundon league singles. Then on Saturday I was off to a practice session with our usual crowd and on Sunday I was playing for the county A team. Little did I realise that all would not go to plan!

I didn’t get in any long practice sessions in the week before but I managed to squeeze in a few mini ones and my form was better than it had been leading up to the pro tour weekend at the Ricoh. On the Wednesday I was poorly, very very tired and off my food which isn’t like me. How I managed to get home from work I don’t know as I really had become very drained. All I could hope was that it wasn’t a virus.

Thankfully on Thursday morning I was a lot better although still not 100%. On Friday night I went to the singles at the Bishopsgate. The Coundon league is one of the best local leagues and the singles is always tough. Unfortunately I played my best darts before the event began. As the night progressed I had a few problems with my contact lens and just felt generally colder and colder and it became a bad night at the office. I tried really hard to turn things round but it wasn’t to be. I won my first game against Len Randle 3-1 hitting 3 x 180’S but to be honest it wasn’t good and the maximums painted over the cracks rather. In the second round I played a bit better and edged past Adam Paxton 3-2. In the quarters I played Jim Macdonald and after some iffy finishing found myself 2-0 down. Jim could have taken it 3-0 but I did manage to level at 2-2. In the decider I had more chances at the the double before Jim won the match with a 110 checkout, hitting sixty, bullseye! I was disappointed with myself but well played Jim for a brilliant finish. Ian McFarlane went on to deservedly win the event edging out the ever improving Michael Spencer in the final.

Onto Sunday and the county match and another good chance for a day of good practice not to mention a tough match on up on stage. Warwickshire’s opponents for the weekend were Lincolnshire. Practice went very well and I had a long wait to play after coming out number 10 in the draw. I played an okay first leg but missed several darts at various doubles and found myself one down. I fought back well and went 3-1 up including a 180 and a 117 checkout and left tops in the fifth. I went over to the table for a sip of water and watched my opponent, Jock Watt, leave himself 110. As I walked to the oche I suddenly realised that I was gasping for breath. I stood still on the oche for a couple of seconds but it was no good I had to move and try to gulp some air. I could see panic on the MC’s (Dave Conroy) face and tried to hold up my hand to signal that it was going to be okay in a few moments but as I couldn’t talk it didn’t really help. Other people were rushing to the front and all I felt was embarrassment at causing a fuss and more importantly disrupting my opponent. After about two or three minutes I was feeling reasonably okay again and was breathing more normally again which was a relief. I apologised to everyone around me but they were all just concerned about me.

Dave explained what had happened to the room and when I approached the oche to carry on, I got what I consider to be an undeserved round of applause. But to feel that warmth towards me from everyone is something that I will never forget. Darts people are second to none when it comes to camaraderie and sportsmanship and I thank everyone in that room from Warwickshire and Lincolnshire that reacted in the way they did towards me. The match almost became insignificant at this point but I did take the leg to win 4-1. I am not sure how many times I apologised to Jock for what happened but he is one hell of a top guy and kept saying that my health was more important than any game of darts!

What happened to me up there has happened before but never on a county stage. I am already in the process of getting myself looked at properly. Having it happen to me is one thing but having other people have to witness it is not fair! Apologies again all.

Warwickshire won the overall match 20-16 and the men’s A 8-4. Apart from the obvious bad point, it was a privilege to pull on the shirt again, thanks to the committee for giving me the opportunity and hopefully I will be back again at some point in the future.

And finally on to the title of this piece, the PDC world championship qualifiers. I was up around 7.30 on the Monday morning and set off around 9.10 for the Ricoh. For me it was just a 12 minute stroll and I was there on the board by 9.25. It was soon obvious that people had read my facebook status from the day before and again I was overwhelmed by people’s concern and good wishes. BDO or PDC, darts is a great family atmosphere.

I tried to concentrate on smoothness of throw during practice as that seems to be what has been lacking with my game lately and it was all a bit erratic. The draw was made and I had a tough group to start with, but they were all tough. 134 players for just 2 places so there wasn’t much margin for error.

My first round opponent was Jamie Robinson from Essex, a quality player and former England international. As I was bottom of the draw on my group, I was supposed to mark the first game but Joanne kindly volunteered to go home and change into trousers so she could mark instead. This gave me extra time to practice giving me more chance. Thanks Jo, I owe you one!

I lost the bull up to Jamie but broke throw in the opener in 17 (43-100-120-100-102-40) darts. The next four legs all went with throw with me winning in 17 (44-137-80-121-87-32) & 21 (with 180) darts and Jamie replying in 15 (180-60-100-95-66) & 17 to leave me 3-2 up. I then held throw in 14 (140-140-98-98-25) before breaking again in 14 (58-140-133-134-36) to take the match 5-2. Afterwards Jamie kindly said he had just been playing at Yarmouth and there was no-one there as good as I had just played. So far so good.

Next up for me was Jim Walker from Leicestershire, one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and a great player. Again I lost the bull and Jim took the opener in 15 (140-78-140-131-12) darts. I won the second scrappily in 20 darts to level, and then missed a chance in the next only to see Jim take it in 17 darts. Jim then crucially broke in 13 (140-140-100-81-40) darts to lead 3-1. In the fifth leg I had plenty of chances to break back but all were missed and when Jim took it in 22 I had a mountain to climb. The match ended 5-1 in Jim’s favour after an 18 darter from him and that was the end of another dream. I had been a little erratic but had also missed chances and you just cannot do it in this company. Jim had played better than me and I wished him well.

I marked the next match on the board which was Jim against Matt Edgar. Jim played better than he did against me but after opening up a 4-1 lead he started missing doubles, and Matt came back to win 5-4. Matt told me it was the second time already that he had come back from 4-1 down and upon hearing that, I really thought it would be his day. Sadly Matt was edged out by Jason Hogg in the final. Having done it three times myself (losing at the last hurdle) I know how much he is hurting, but Matt is young enough and confident enough to bounce back and get it done next time.

Next up for me PDC wise will be the 2015 Q school as I have now lost my tour card. I wasn’t too far from retaining it but not quite good enough. Every year I get older and it gets tougher but I will be there in January giving it my best shot. I will then assess how I get on and then plan my attack for the year from there.

Thanks everyone for your ongoing feedback when I see you out and about and thanks for reading.

Good darting everyone and have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Cheers,

Kev.