Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Billy on the Box: It’s grand, remain calm and keep on throwing

A chorus of boos, or should that be booze, greeted Mervyn King, the wannabe ruler of the oche, for the final of the World Grand Prix

The Queen may now be the flavour of the month along the banks of the Liffey, but the King is just not so welcome in Dublin’s less than Fair City.

A chorus of boos, or should that be booze, greeted Mervyn King, the wannabe ruler of the oche, for the final of the World Grand Prix.

The Englishman has the rare distinction of being even less popular than a banker, even if he shares his name with the most famous of them all, but things started well as he raced into a 3-0 lead on Sky, desperately trying to keep us all high in interest, despite the big stars disappearing quicker than Nick Leeson.

Fears of a glorious revolution were to be extinguished though with history turning full circle as the saviour arrived in the shape of a Dutchman, but this time dressed in green.

Michael van Gerwen, known as Mighty Mike, or MVG if you’re annoying like Wayne Mardle, who was not very good, or NVG as us darts fans like to remember him, I am pretty confident has had little experience of white horses, unless it has been finely sliced and served up in a few rounds of Mighty White.

King’s treasonable crime against the state was to end the stint on stage by a man called Dolan.

Imagine Engelbert Humperdinck ousting Joe Dolan from a stage in a Cavan hotel in the Seventies and you’ll get the general idea.

This Dolan though was Brendan, last year’s beaten finalist in the World Grand Prix, a painter and decorator by trade but who couldn’t find a finish for love nor money — in matt or gloss.

Dave Clark, the presenter not a Sixties singer minus four pals, was first on stage as warm-up, and said that ‘after upsets, fightbacks and drama it has come down to this. 32 started, now only two remain’, so a bit like the All-Ireland but without the back doors — and no sign of New York or London.

For the uninitiated, King is the villain of the piece although as heroic figures go, I’m not sure MVG was what they had in mind in fairytale land, although the amount of people dressed as Shrek in homage to the man bedecked in a fluorescent green shirt would seem to disprove that.

Imagine the offspring of Martin Jol and Marjorie Dawes and you won’t be too far away.

King (I don’t think I’ve the right one pictured) is not a fan of MVG’s boisterous celebrations so it was nice to see him play it down a little by coming onto the soothing strains of ‘Firestarter’ — the prodigy son has arrived, while Mervyn came on to Bad. His reception was ‘mixed’ — some booed, others just hurled proper abuse.

Mardle said it wouldn’t worry King though as ‘he owns about 25 sets of earplugs’ and they worked as he raced into a 4-1 lead and then somehow contrived to lose five sets in a row and waved bye-bye to the title. “It looked like the title was yours, what went wrong?” asked Clark, sensitively.

“I started well and then I had to play another 2,000 people — they went berserk. What do you say?”

At this point, Clark should have adopted a Ronan Keating approach by saying nothing at all but decided to poke King once more with a pointy stick.

“How are you feeling right now?”, he asked, before diving for cover.

“How do you think I feel? I’ve just played a final, I’ve just got humped because of nothing I’ve done.

“How do you think I feel? Not good, David, not good,” he hinted.

Undeterred and possibly wearing a pair of earplugs, Clark, retorted with one of the greatest lines of nothingness ever uttered.

“Well done, Mervyn King, a great runner-up,” he said, prompting a look of aghast rage that would only have been matched in the crowd had Giovanni Trapattoni climbed onto stage accompanied by Helga and Herr Flick.