Barney told to “believe like Ted Lasso”

Report by Jethro Bremner-Allison.

One of the noticeable differences in Raymond Van Barneveld mark II, is the clear appreciation for the European Tour. And why wouldn’t he? The 3,000+ strong Sindelfingen crowd loved seeing the 55 year old Dutchman annihilate UK Open champion Andrew Gilding 6-0. Speaking after the whitewash, Ray credited partner Julia for the fact he has reached a Euro Tour quarter final for the first time since 2019. “She’s always by my side and tells me to believe, just like Ted Lasso,” he effused. On the other hand, it’s back to the drawing board for Gilding when he gets back to Bungay, with the likeable Englishman crumbling on stage, posting an average of just 80.  

In match 2, Nathan Aspinall admitted he was “in a great place head-wise” and despite being a major winner stated “he’s never felt as good as he does at the moment”. It certainly appears that is the case, as despite the crazy 3rd leg which the Asp took in 27 darts, he still managed a startling average of 103 with his first 9 average tipping 124. Without his NINETEEN missed doubles, he would have been on course for record breaking numbers. De Sousa presumably would have been pleased with his own showing but ran into the Asp on the wrong day. The Special One showed he’s still a fearsome opponent for anyone on tour.  

Euro Tour specialist and number 1 seed Luke Humphries survived an almighty scare to see of Premier League man Chris Dobey 6-5 in the match of the night. In a hugely revealing chat straight after the match Humphries admitted if he is to be considered a top player he needed to stop putting himself in these positions and that “top players don’t miss 8 match darts, they close it out”. He also mentioned that the looming prospect of a potential first World Cup spot is not on his mind. “Rob Cross is a great friend” he said “if he gets there then I’ll wish him all the best and vice versa”. Chris Dobey marched off the stage devastated, he’d fought from 5-2 down to give himself 3 darts at D12 for the match only to steal defeat from the jaws of victory. Cool Hand himself had 8 darts for the match before falling over the line.  

Next up was Gerwyn Price who bounced back from Premier League heartbreak by dispatching Rapid Ricky Evans 6-2. Price played an exhibition in Luxembourg last night and due to a cancelled flight needed the victory to cover his astronomical £1,200 taxi bill! He admitted to just 3 hours sleep but that he expected to be back to his best tomorrow. Price also paid tribute to the German crowd “I get some bad crowds, but not in Germany, they’ve been brilliant for me” However with either Clemens or Schindler awaiting in the QF his pleas for the same again tomorrow will likely fall on deaf ears. Evans showed in flashes, including a beautiful T19, D19 to take the 7th leg but couldn’t live with Price’s consistency.  

In game 5, Josh Payne went for history for attempting a “no look” T20 after 5 perfect darts in the 4th leg. It didn’t land and Payne appeared to disrupt his own rhythm by losing the leg to Joe Cullen. The game itself swung one way then the other, leading to a final leg decider. It looked for all the world it was a case of “hair today, gone tomorrow” for the Rockstar, sporting his new hair transplant,  but through “shear” brilliance with a 108 “highlight” finish in the final leg he progressed. “I knew I needed that 108 and I look forward to facing Damon Heta tomorrow” the visibly relieved Cullen said as he departed the stage.  

Next up, the Sindlefingen crowd cranked up by 10x with their 2 favourites Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler going head to head. The upcoming World Cup teammates put aside their friendship to do battle in front of their home crowd. Schindler entered the stage looking much more confident than his opponent but the early legs were shared as both looked edgy with a tickertape of missed doubles. Schindler took the initiative though and surged to a 5-1 lead, seemingly revelling in the atmosphere as Clemens clammed up. Just when you felt it would be one way traffic, the German Giant responded with his own 11 darter and his mini-revival continued to 5-3. Both players sat on madhouse in leg 9 as the tie was bookended by nerves but Schindler held on to progress 6-3. Speaking ahead of a QF with Gerwyn Price, the Wall remarked “He’s one of the best just now, but I’m not going to be intimidated”.  

The penultimate match brought together recent Premier League semi-finalist Jonny Clayton and 60 year old Glaswegian Ross Montgomery, who despite winning his first European Tour match yesterday came into the match with a 2-0 head to head vs the Ferret. Against the odds, The Boss completed a sensational hattrick as the world number 92 emulated his 2010 & 2013 successes. Unlike countryman Price, the cross-country 4 figure taxi ride that Clayton shared last night with Gerwyn clearly affected his performance. Speaking on stage shortly afterwards the Boss explained the hard work he’s been putting in is now clearly paying off whilst paying tribute to Clayton. “I felt relaxed, but total respect to Johnny”. 

To round up a phenomenal nights entertainment World number 10 & 19 came head to head in a high quality encounter. Krysztof Ratajski must have arrived at the venue coursing with confidence after his display yesterday, however Dimitri Van Den Burgh came out of the traps quickly to assert his dominance on the tie. Undeterred, the Polish Eagle fought back and gave us the finish all the neutrals wanted at 5 all. A sensational 105 finish in leg 11 saw Ratajski out as a deserved winner on the night, showing uncharacteristic huge emotion as the final double landed.  

Images by Taylor Lanning.