Who was the youngest darts player to achieve a televised nine-dart finish?

The vast majority of televised professional darts matches consist of single games, or legs, in which the object is to score exactly 501 points, ‘straight in, double out’. What this means, in plain English, is that players require no special shot to start scoring, but must finish scoring on a double or the bullseye. The minimum number of darts required to score 501 is nine, so a nine-dart finish is considered the pinnacle of achievement in a single leg of darts, akin to a ‘maximum’ break of 147 in a single frame of snooker (for all that, in the latter case, a break of 155 is theoretically possible).

The first player to achieve a televised nine-dart finish was John Lowe, who did so at the MFI World Matchplay on October 13, 1984. In his quarter-final match against Keith Deller, Lowe hit 180, 180 to leave 141, which he finished with treble 17, treble 18 and double 18. According to Unicorn Darts, Lowe lists the bullseye as his favourite double but, to finish 141 that way, he would have needed to score 91 with his first two darts. Of course, that’s possible, but less than straightforward, so he can be forgiven for taking the route that he did, particularly as he collected £102,000 for his trouble.

Anyway, the youngest darts player to play a perfect televised leg was Michael van Gerwen, who was just 17 years and 298 days old when did so against compatriot Raymond van Barneveld in a semi-final match in the Masters of Darts, at the Expo Center Hengelo (ECH) in Hengelo, Netherlands, on February 17, 2007. ‘Mighty Mike’ began his effort, in the second leg of the fifth set, unconventionally, hitting treble 20, treble 19 and treble 19 for a total of 174 on his first throw. However, he followed up with 180, to leave 147, which he finished in conventional fashion, by hitting treble 20, treble 17 and double 18. Apparently, of the 3,944 different ways of scoring 501 with nine darts, 782 finish on double 18, which is second only to the bullseye, which is the target for the last dart in 2,296 combinations.

What is the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method?

Formerly known as the Duckworth-Lewis method, the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method is calculation algorithm used to fairly compute the revised target in any limited-over cricket match in which overs are lost due to rain, bad light, etc.. The original method was devised by English statisticians Frank Duckworth and the late Tony Lewis, who died in March, 2020, but was subsequently revised to better handle higher run totals by Steve Stern, who is, nowadays, Professor of Data Science at Bond Business School in Queensland, Australia and, in his own words, ‘official custodian’ of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. Stern was, however, keen to point out that his revision was ‘simply an adjustment and enhancement’ of the existing method.

Prior to January 1, 1997, when the Duckworth-Lewis method was used for the first time in a One Day International (ODI) match between Zimbabwe and England at Harare Sports Club, revised targets were calculated in direct proportion to the number of overs available, based on average run rate. This older, simpler method typically favoured chasing teams, but not so in the case of the semi-final of the Benson & Hedges World Cup between England and South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground in March, 1992. South Africa bowled only 45 overs, rather than 50, in the time allotted but, chasing 252/6, they were 231/6 off 42.5 overs when rain stopped play. When play resumed, the over limit was reduced by two, but the target reduced by just one, so that instead of needing 22 runs off 13 balls, South Afrrica now needed an impossible 22 runs off one ball.

To avoid such farcical circumstances, the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method takes into account the remaining resources at the disposal of each team – in other words, wickets in hand and overs in hand – at the stage of the match when interruptions occur. Obviously, as wickets fall and overs are completed, remaining resources fall, but all possible values can be pre-calculated and tabulated, while various calculators, official and unofficial, are also available.

Why is Crystal Palace FC nicknamed ‘The Eagles’?

Crystal Palace Football Club (FC) was formally founded, as a professional team, at what is now Crystal Palace Park, in the London Borough of Bromley, in 1905. At the time, the site was home to the Crystal Palace, a giant plate glass and cast iron structure, originally built in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851, but dismantled and re-erected on Sydenham Hill, South East London three years later. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the football club was originally known as ‘The Crystals’, before becoming known by a more familiar nickname, ‘The Glaziers’, circa 1910.

At the start of World War I, in July, 1914, the Crystal Palace and its grounds were commandeered by the Admiralty and, the following March, Crystal Palace FC was forced to leave its original stadium on the site of what is now the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Thereafter, the club played its football at Herne Hill Velodrome and Croydon Common Athletic Ground, a.k.a. ‘The Nest’, before moving to its current home, Selhurst Park, in 1924.

‘The Eagles’ nickname was a much, much later development and was, in fact, ‘borrowed’ from perennial Portuguese champions Benfica by Malcolm ‘Big Mal’ Allison, who succeeded Bert Head as manager at Selhurst Park on March 31, 1973. A flamboyant, outspoken and often controversial manager, Allison sought to revolutionise the club, as he had done previously, alongside Joe Mercer, at Manchester City.

However, despite his rebranding efforts, Crystal Palace FC was relegated to the Second Division in 1972/73 and relegated again, to the Third Division, in 1973/74. By the time the club was promoted back to the Second Division in 1976/77, Allison had been replaced by Terry Venables, who had worked as his coach the previous season.

Which footballer, or footballers, received the fastest red card ever?

In association football, a.k.a. soccer, a straight red card – which, of course, results in instant dismissal from the field of play – may be issued by a referee for various reasons including, but not limited to, serious foul play, violent conduct and deliberately denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Indeed, the history of the game is awash with accounts of players who received the proverbial ‘early bath’ almost before their feet had touched the ground, or the pitch in this case.

As recently as September 18, 2022, for example, Nice centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo hit the headlines when dismissed after just nine seconds of the Ligue 1 clash with Angers at the Allianz Riviera. The visitors went on the attack straight from the kick-off and when Todibo, adjudged to be the last man, tripped rival striker Abdallah Sima referee Bastien Dechepy had no choice to issue the fastest red card card in Ligue 1 history. For the record, Angers won 1-0, despite having Sofiane Boufal dismissed for a second yellow card just after the hour mark.

Nine seconds is roughly the time it takes to tie a shoelace, but still seems like an eternity when compared with the fastest red cards ever. Two players have the dubious distinction of being sent off after being on the pitch for no time at all, at least not officially. The first of them was Jamaican international striker Walter Boyd, who enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame when playing for Swansea City against Darlington in Division Three of the English Football League at Vetch Field on November 23, 1999. Following the award of a free-kick, Boyd came on as a late substitute, but immediately elbowed an opponent and was dismissed, for violent conduct, before play had restarted.

The second ‘instant’ red card was issued, under similar circumstances, in an explosive Premier League match between Reading and Sheffield United at the Madejski Stadium on January 20, 2007. The recipient was Sheffield United midfielder Keith Gillespie who, like Boyd, came on as a substitute and, like Boyd, elbowed an opponent before play had restarted, earning him his marching orders after precisely zero seconds, officially.