When you think of Dutch dart players, several may spring to mind. Michael van Gerwen, Roland Scholten, Co Stompe, Ron Meulenkamp, Vincent Van Der Voort, and Jermaine Wattimena, to name a few. However, the sport may not be as popular today if it wasn't for one darts player from the Netherlands.
Raymond van Barneveld brought the Netherlands to a standstill when he won the BDO World Darts Championship in 1998. His win followed shortly after the famous players split in 1994 to form the World Darts Council (WDC), later known as the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). It was the support from the bookmakers that helped the sport grow, and if you like to bet and play online games, you may find the Betting odds on thegamepoint.io a good place to visit.
Raymond had made the BDO World final in 1995 but lost to Richie Burnett; a former boxer turned darter. In 1998 Raymond faced Richie again for the BDO World crown; this time, he was successful in winning in the last set to give him a 6-5 victory. The Netherlands had a new World Champion, and they greeted the champ like a conquering hero when he returned to his homeland.
The sport of darts has gone through many turbinate times, and Raymond has lived through most. With the departure of the top sixteen semi-professional players from the BDO in 1994, the sport was in disarray. Sponsorship for events was drying up, and the BDO World Crown seemed tarnished as fans and some players remarked that the cream of the sport had moved away. Nevertheless, new dart stars were born, and Barney was one of them.
From the 1970s – 2003, tobacco firms sponsored the main events. However, the UK's decision to ban all tobacco advertising ended the partnership with darts. Cigarettes and alcohol were banned from the oche, and players had to follow a strict code of dress and play.
In the early years of the PDC, sponsorship was also challenging to obtain. Breweries initially took on the task with Skol International sponsoring the first two PDC World Championships, followed by car manufacturer Proton, Vernons and Skol again. By 2001 a New chairman of the PDC was appointed, Barry Hearn. Barry Would take dart to a new level, and with his sports promotional background, he gained TV coverage and new sponsorship. In 2022 there was over £15M in prize money alone and the main sponsors, bookmakers, are heavily involved.
Darts is the second-most-watched sport on Sky TV. Initially, the satellite broadcaster was not sure about the game. However, Barry was a boxing promoter; hence, if they wanted the boxing, they had to have the darts! Today darts are a much easier sell. It has millions of followers, and Worldwide growth is increasing, despite the closure of many pubs in the UK. Darts is stronger than ever and is growing in popularity has been significant. However, the former BDO never improved with the same fortunes, and Barney, although winning the BDO World Championships on four occasions, wasn't happy that he was treated as second best.
Following the 2006 BDO World Championships, Barney moved to the PDC. The move caused some issues with the BDO as they stated the semi-finalists and finalists were under contract to compete in the following year's World Championship. However, it emerged that van Barneveld had negotiated a clause in his contract with the BDO, giving him the right to play in the PDC World Championship the year after his last BDO World Championship. Barney was looking for new challenges and set two goals. The first was to beat the legend of the sport Phil' The Power' Taylor in the PDC World Championships, and the second was to hit a live nine-dart leg on TV. Barney achieved both in his first year.
The 2007 PDC World final will go down in history for its dramatic ultimate leg decider. Barney had got his wish to play Phil Taylor in a World Final. The event was billed as two great heavyweight boxers meeting in a big showdown. The final poised at six sets all and five legs all took the match to a sudden-death leg.
The match couldn't have been scripted better by a Hollywood film director. The leg began with bullying off. Phil threw first, hitting the outer ball. Barney requested the dart remain in the board and use it to ease his own into the bull. Barney hit the bullseye and gained the advantage of the throw. The rest is history as Barney won the last leg decider to equal former World Champion Eric Bristow's five World Championship victories. The controversial bulling up procedure has since been reviewed, and now all darts are removed from the board, and only a bull or outer-bull can win the throw.
Although Michael van Gerwen has made his name in darts history today and is the current Dutch No.1, Barney still leads the way in world victories. Barney was to meet Phil Taylor again in the 2009 World Championship final. However, the 'Power' was too much for him, and he lost 7-1. Although this Barney has had one of the best darts careers any professional dart player would love to hold today, he is still a force to be reckoned with.