Monday 2 January 2017 - Monday 2 January 2017
As we arrive at the Finsbury Park bus station we can't find bus W3. We're directed to the other side of the train station where a few buses are ready to depart. One of them is W3 and we stand in line to get on the bus. Next to us are two men in Scottish clothing and I ask them if they're going to 'the palace'. They confirm my question and will probably be cheering for Gary Anderson while we, being Dutch, will be cheering for Michael van Gerwen.
The bus reminds us that we're heading towards Northumberland Park but when we arrive at Alexandra Palace Palm Court bus station, many people leave the bus. Together, we cross the street to walk towards Ally Pally which is just across the street.
In front of us is the VIP entrance where some 30 people are waiting for the doors to open. It'll take some 20 minutes so we walk to the normal entrance to see long lines of visitors. We walk back to the VIP entrance and as the doors open, we slowly walk inside where we are being searched before we can enter the building.
We follow the path inside the building that brings us to the hospitality hall. Here, I ask for our tickets and we are brought to our table in the dining room. Diner is served at 7 o'clock but first we are getting acquainted with some other guests on our table while drinking our champagne. After a while, we go get our food and as we're eating, Barry Hearn, the chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation, joins our table. We have a short talk and he tells me that a huge number of tickets sold for the tournament were bought by German attendants. Last year, 11% of the tickets were sold to Germans and now, it may have been 20% or so! I tell him to take the Premier League to Germany and he tells me it'll happen in Berlin 2018, which he already told us some months ago but I didn't read it before today. Soon, Barry leaves us because he has some other things to do before the match starts in some 30 minutes and as we finish our meal, master of ceremonies John McDonald joins us for a short presentation where two known people of the darting world are presented to us. First, former world champion and current spotter for Sky Sports Keith Deller talks about the importance of having a spotter during the broadcast of a darts match. The spotter helps the director to show the correct camera images based on what the player might want to throw. It requires lots of knowledge of the playing style of all players, since each player has their own way of finishing certain scores.
After Keith Deller has left the room, mastercaller Russ Bray is our next guest. He's well known for his performances during almost all PDC darts tournaments throughout the year and requires no real introduction. Even my companion who isn't really into the darts, recognises him as soon as he starts to speak. He asks a volunteer to throw three imaginary darts and calls a 180. After that, he walks around for selfies with many people in the room and before we know it, we are asked to put our drinks in plastic cups and go to the tables since the match is about to start. My companion and I both take a cup and we fill three bottles of beer in the cups before we leave the room and go to our tables. We have table tickets at the front with only some 9 rows of people before us and we'll have a good view of what happens on stage.
At 8 PM, John McDonalds calls the players to enter the stage and from this moment, I realise that many friends and family back home are now watching the room we're sitting. As the match progresses, we try to find ourselves when the camera shows the crowd. We watch a very interesting match and soon I can see that Gary Anderson won't beat Michael van Gerwen tonight.
Almost at the end of the match, some idiot runs on stage, taking the trophy. I know that on television, one can hardly see what's happening at such moments and I decide to keep watching the guy and see him being pulled off stage. Soon after this incident, the match is over and the presentation party is held. We keep watching what happens after the Sky Sports broadcast is over. Several press pictures are being made and when Michael van Gerwen leaves the stage, we leave the building.
The bus back to Finsbury Park is very crowded with dart fans and there's a nice atmosphere in the bus. As we leave the bus at Finsbury Park, we walk back to our hotel where we soon go to sleep. We're already planning the journey back home and have to leave on time not to miss the ferry to France.