Si wants to be a wiz­ard in Oz

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

SI­MON WHIT­LOCK is hop­ing home ad­van­tage will spur him on to glory in the Syd­ney Darts Masters.

The world No.4 is amongst 16 play­ers bat­tling it out at Luna Park in the PDC’s se­cond World Se­ries of Darts event, which be­gins on Thurs­day.

Aussie Whit­lock (above) is one of eight top PDC stars com­pet­ing Down Un­der, with the first round see­ing them drawn against eight qual­i­fiers from Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

And the lo­cal hero ad­mits that claim­ing glory in Satur­day’s fi­nal would be one of the great­est achieve­ments of his ca­reer.

“I’ve been play­ing darts for 20-odd years but this is one of the most ex­cit­ing weeks of my ca­reer,” said 44-yearold Whit­lock.

Ex­tra

“Darts is get­ting more and more pop­u­lar all the time in Aus­tralia through TV cov­er­age they are get­ting of our events in Europe, and it’s been great to see how much in­ter­est there’s been since we’ve ar­rived.

“I think that will give me a lit­tle bit ex­tra in my game and hope­fully I can do the busi­ness be­cause it would be fan­tas­tic to win this ti­tle.”

Phil Tay­lor, who won last month’s World Match­play, and world No.2 Michael van Ger­wen are favourites for the event.

Adrian Lewis, Andy Hamil­ton, Ray­mond van Barn­eveld, Wes New­ton and Paul Ni­chol­son com­plete the line-up of PDC stars, with the qual­i­fiers in­clud­ing Aus­tralian broth­ers Kyle and Beau An­der­son.

Whit­lock added: “The level in Aus­tralian darts gets bet­ter ev­ery year.

“We’ve got some re­ally good play­ers com­ing through, like Kyle An­der­son and Gor­don Mathers, and this is a chance for them.”

Tay­lor said: “It’s like we’re tak­ing the Premier League to Aus­tralia and we want to put on a good show.”

THE pre-match cliché over­drive to big up Man United v Chelsea was later re­placed with meek com­par­isons to chess as watch­ers world­wide rolled off their so­fas and wearily asked: “Has it fin­ished yet?”

At least peo­ple try to WIN at chess.

Jose Mour­inho set up at Old Traf­ford without a recog­nised striker and left one of the most cre­ative play­ers at his dis­posal – Juan Mata (right) – twid­dling his thumbs on the bench. This is ge­nius ap­par­ently. David Moyes blamed United’s fi­nal ball as chins con­tin­ued to be stroked about his suit­abil­ity as Sir Alex Fer­gu­son’s suc­ces­sor.

What­ever the rea­son, it was the first goal­less draw at Old Traf­ford since May 2009 – and the first time in 118 United games that the Red Devils had fin­ished a game 0-0.

So – as is ever the case – we were left to en­ter­tain our­selves with the cir­cus that op­er­ates around the game.

This time it was Wayne Rooney who was fired out of the can­non for the na­tion’s en­ter­tain­ment.

The Eng­land man has been thrust­ing his crotch in the gen­eral di­rec­tion of Stam­ford Bridge all sum­mer.

So it was all eyes on Mr Potato Head. Would he sulk? Would he smile?

Charge

“He’s a Manch­ester United player and he’ll prove it tonight,” boomed Moyes.

To be fair, Rooney was prob­a­bly the best player on the pitch, his ef­forts epit­o­mised by a bull-like charge back to his own end of the pitch and a per­fectly ex­e­cuted slide tackle on Ramires.

It prompted thou­sands of Mancs into a tub-thump­ing ren­di­tion of the Scouser’s name. Yet more proof that footie fans will ex­cuse any­thing else if a player has abil­ity.

You won­der how far Mour­inho’s tongue was in his cheek when he de­clared af­ter the game: “In ev­ery club in the world, when a player wants to leave, they don’t sup­port him. “When a player wants to leave, they give him a hard time, but they have sup­ported him all the way, so I think this must be a very spe­cial club, with spe­cial fans.”

When Rooney gave the come-and-get-me eyes to Manch­ester City in 2010, a mob of hooded scal­lies turned up at his man­sion and un­furled a banner read­ing: “Join City & Die.”

Now a ri­val man­ager – who has al­ready bid twice for Rooney and blamed Moyes for un­set­tling him – telling the world their player must “fin­ish the story” is met with lit­tle more than a shrug.

Chas­ing money and prizes while flick­ing the Vs at the club you claimed to love has be­come an ac­cepted part of the game.

Loy­alty, con­tracts, re­spect and “do­ing the right thing”? Things of the past, it seems.

Just like man­agers who try to win ev­ery game.

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