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Darts Round-up: The Martin Fitzmaurice Racism Controversy & the McCoy’s Premier League

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Unfortunately, in the last week or so, darts has again been hit by another controversy after footage of veteran MC Martin Fitzmaurice telling two undeniably racist jokes at the BDO British Internationals in Glenrothes was uploaded onto YouTube. The clip became the hot topic of conversation in darts forumland and was soon picked up by the British press.

On Thursday Fitzmaurice announced that he had resigned from the BDO and that his resignation had been accepted.

Fitzmaurice, nicknamed Fitz, has offered sincere apologies for bringing the BDO into disrepute and claimed that no offence was intended but curiously attempted to use in his defence the idea that he had somehow been ‘set up’ and was unaware he was being filmed, the kind of feeble non excuse that is often wheeled out in cases like this, as though Fitz would deem these types of jokes acceptable as long as a camera isn’t rolling.

Anyone who follows the game closely will have likely heard rumours regarding the man’s penchant for occasionally trotting out some Chubby Brown style gags and long before this embarrassing episode, darts fans who felt that Fitz was an obvious liability for the BDO weren’t exactly thin on the ground.

So no more Lakeside World Professional Darts Championships for Fitz then and inevitably speculation has started on who might take over his master of ceremonies role at that event. One candidate that I would like to see considered is ‘Little Richard’ Ashdown.

Richard knows the game inside out as an MC, referee, spotter and statistician. He already possesses TV experience, is very popular among followers of the game and certainly isn’t someone that you would ever have to worry about lapsing into any Fitzmaurice type faux pas.

The McCoy’s Premier League

The McCoy’s Premier League continued on Thursday night at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield with the original ten players having been whittled down to eight.

Opening up proceedings was a match between Scotland’s Robert Thornton and Aussie Simon Whitlock.

Robert’s odds on becoming Premier League champion had been dropping every week and, before the game, his World Cup of Darts team-mate Gary Anderson tipped him to go all the way and lift the trophy, but sadly this wasn’t to be one of the Thorn’s most convincing displays.

Both players threw some sloppy darts in the early legs but gradually the Scot moved up a gear and began displaying his recent dexterity at double tops. At 4-2 ahead though, he uncharacteristically failed to convert a number of chances, missing double top, ten, five, two and one, allowing Whitlock, who has so far underperformed in this year’s competition, to punish him by nailing tops at his first attempt, a finish that appeared to act as a catalyst for a comeback, Whitlock surging back to win the final
five legs of the match on the trot to triumph 7-4 and possibly kick-start his attempt to fight his way back into contention for a place at Finals Night in May.

Thornton is still happy with his league position and, despite the disappointment, he did throw an impressive 97.67 average and hit five 180s. Significantly though, the three men he trailed at the beginning of the evening all moved further ahead of him.

The star of the night was undoubtedly Michael van Gerwin, who won both his matches, including a 7-3 drubbing of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor which frankly he should have won by an even wider margin, meaning Taylor remains in fifth place, immediately below Thornton.

Since Week 5 in Nottingham, Taylor has also suffered defeats to Gary Anderson, Andy Hamilton and Robert Thornton and I doubt Phil has witnessed this many power cuts in such a short space of time since he was a schoolboy during the miners’ strikes of the 1970s.

The man who has won six Premier League titles since its inception in 2004 now faces a real struggle to reach the last four and could even end up in a dog-fight with the Thorn for the final qualifying spot; his run-in looks a little easier than the Scot’s, so it’s essential that Robert is at his best when the action moves over to Dublin’s O2 Arena on Thursday in front of a 9,000 sell-out crowd.

Thornton will face James Wade and might have to take at least a point from the encounter as I do feel Taylor, despite those recent lapses, will record victories against both Andy Hamilton and Raymond van Barneveld and rack up four more points.

Finally, congratulations to the eight qualifiers for June’s Speedy Services UK Open, who won their places on Monday night in Glasgow – Gus Santana, Andy Murray, Gary Stone, Jamie Hagen, Tam Dymond, Scott Robertson, Andrew McNicol and Andy Boulton. Good luck to them all in the tournament often referred to as ‘The FA Cup of Darts’.

Written by Jamie Havlin

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