When I finally get my head around witnessing 70,000 Welsh singing “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” (“Land of my Fathers”) on Saturday at Millennium Stadium, I’ll post something. Until then, check out this – in my opinion brilliant – piece that won The Guardian’s Big Blogger 2008 Week 4. It’s about darts; it’s excellent and it was the rightful winner of the round. Blogger D draws an analogy of darts to life, but instead of clouding it with the usual guff, it’s a simple case of darts and life either being ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Like I said, excellent. Unfortunately I don’t know the writer’s name or his blog address, but maybe he or she will find my blog and get in touch. Enjoy.
It will shortly be that time of year again. Mistletoe and wine. Children singing Christian rhyme. Logs on the fire, leaves on the tree, etc. Darts.
Darts all day long. And for those of us who are, in the mangled words of Robert Palmer, “addicted to Stubbs”, we’ll have Darts Extra in the early hours of the morning. Oh yeah.
“Darts Extra”. There’s a clue in the name: it’s just more darts, in fact it’s inferior darts. They know it, you know it and they know that you know. But who can say no to extra darts? Not me, that’s for sure, but I have a terrible vision of waking up aged seventy to realise that I should have spent more time making love to my wife and less time watching Tony O’Shea making short work of Co Stompé. Or vice versa.
The PDC is where the serious action is nowadays, but for myself – and I refuse to believe I am alone – the BDO has an appeal that is both more elusive and evocative. It represents a land that time forgot for British sport. And is all the better for it.
Take the analysis. In welcome contrast to pretty much every other sport on television, there isn’t any. It’s just wall-to-wall drama. In Bobby George’s universe (not somewhere any sane man wants to visit) there is nothing to say about the game, there is no bullshit insight into technique or tactics, and there’s certainly no wibbling on about “understacking” or “overstacking”.
Someone is either throwing “good darts” or they are throwing “bad darts”.
And this refusal to dress up the spectacle extends to the players themselves. Only the most adventurous would even dare to make a distinction between “good scoring” and “getting his doubles”. The only tactic ever discussed is “speeding it up” or “slowing it down”.
After enough of this you can only conclude that as in darts, so in life. You’re either throwing good darts or your throwing bad darts and if the latter all you can hope is that you turn things around sharpish (but time is precious – particularly in the first round) or at the very least slow things down, put the cruel hand of fate off his game and hope he starts fluffing his out shots.
But the appeal does not stop there. At the Lakeside Arena, there is no clear difference between the people on stage and the people in the crowd. All the celebrities, the pampered professionals, have disappeared to the PDC. And they leave behind a vision of sport as it used to be, magically uninventing all the tedious, “workmanlike” identikit professionals and leaving only the ones who can’t be bothered putting too much effort in.
The pub players, the fat players, the thin players (they don’t come in medium). Men with silly hair, beards, hats. Those that tick all the boxes. Humanity in all its glorious variety is up on that stage. Some of them are Dutch for God’s sake.
So Phil Taylor can throw all the 180s he likes. Barney can defeat “The Power” in what was almost certainly the greatest sporting event yet witnessed this century. But until either of them dons a cape and throws a couple of plastic bats into the crowd, they are fighting a losing battle. At the Lakeside the audience and players are as one. Does anyone really care about how good the darts are?
A couple of years ago, whilst I checked on the progress of a young Jelle Klaasen (who stood to make me a small amount of money), the camera panned over a spectator wearing a Darth Vader suit. This caused great amusement amongst my children. Then one of them asked the question that nobody ever dares to ask. “WHY is he wearing a Darth Vader suit?” There is no answer. He just is. Just like Ted Hankey likes to dress up as a vampire and listen to trance in his loft.
You’re either throwing good darts or you’re throwing bad darts. The rest is window dressing.