Many moons ago, my dad and I would often go to the Milmoor to see Rotherham United play (cue music from Hovis ad...).
The play was rarely as slick and professional as the Premier League, but for that very reason it was exciting to watch, with a much greater sense of watching the local lads, in a more intimate stadium where you were closer to the action and closer to the emotion.
I love the UK Open for much the same reason; you get to see many players that you just wouldn't normally see on TV, but with the added bonus that (unlike Rotherham United) they get the chance to pit themselves against the giants of the game, with the short format creating the ever-present possibility of a major upset. There's nothing like watching a nervous newbie overcome that tendency to wander into the 5 or the 1, grow in confidence, start hitting the trebles and the doubles, and give the major star a run for his money. It's what sport is all about.
First to provide that sporting frisson was Mark Burgoine, a new qualifier from Bedfordshire, who took down former Winmau World Masters winner and BDO World Championship finalist Tony West 4-3. West has had a poor run of form in the BDO for the last few years, and must have been hoping that a shift to the PDC would give him that added oomph; he certainly started confidently, with back to back 140s, and seemed to be on track as Burgoine slipped into 5 and 1, and couldn't buy a treble at one stage. It didn't last though; Burgoine found his mark, grew in confidence and went from looking like a nervous kid on his first day at school to seeming truly at home on the big stage, taking the match 4-3. Sadly, Burgoine didn't make it to the last 64, but kudos to him anyway.
Further drama was provided by qualifier John Jukes, a bin man from Oxfordshire, who took down Steve Beaton, whilst James Wade must have needed a clean pair of undies after his match against qualifier Stephen Bunting, who averaged 101 at one stage and had 4 match darts; the Machine held on, and clinched the match 4-3.
Another new arrival from the BDO who'll have to wait a bit longer for PDC glory is Ted Hankey, who tumbled to Mervyn King (there's an interesting clash of personalities for you) 4-1 in the second round.
For the Dutch lads, Klaasen and Barneveld are both through, and will square off against each other in the 3rd round; Co Stompe sadly didn't make it - he's great to watch; engineers at NASA are still trying to figure out the mechanics of his throwing action - getting nailed to the wall by Alan Tabern, who defeated him 4-0 in ten minutes. Machine gunner Vincent van der Voort made it safely through.
Well, that's all from me. I'm glad to see Dennis Ovens made it through - he was squaring up to the darting big boys when Phil Taylor was still making bog handles - as did Pieman Andy Smith: big man, big character.
Enjoy Day Two :o)