Eclectic Blue

Stand up if you love…

Comments Off on Stand up if you love… 09 January 2018

Stand up if you love...

Did I ever tell you about the time when I played the Limestone Cowboy, Bob Anderson, in the West of England Civil Service darts championships in, I think, 1983? I must have done. If I haven’t, remind me to allow you to buy me a few beers and let me recount the whole cringeworthy story. Spoiler alert: I didn’t win. Bob was an absolute charmer, but then he was playing against someone who could barely hit the board, never mind hit some killer scores. To this day, it remains the only competitive darts game I have ever played. (I use the word “competitive” only in the sense that it was an actual tournament.)

I followed Anderson’s career thereafter and I was particularly pleased when he went on to win the World Championships. Having now experienced a darts match when there were people watching I marvelled at how players coped in front of thousands of spectators. At least the crowd was generally quiet when players were throwing. That’s all changed now.

There are two darts organisations. The main one is the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). All the big stars play in the PDC and thanks to clever marketing, it has become a huge spectacle on Sky, regularly attracting audiences in the high hundreds of thousands. People like Phil Taylor have transcended their sport and are known across the land. The darts evenings themselves are essentially stag nights with scantily clad dancing girls and thousands of seriously pissed men (and a few women), many of whom are ejected during every single show. The noise is phenomenal and it never stops, certainly not for the throwing of the darts. The best players are all there. It is the Premier League and probably the Championship too. But it is for real?

The British Darts Organisation (BDO) used to be the only game in town. It organises the grassroots of the game, its world title is competed for by its best, not the best, darts players. When the big names of the sport decided the BDO was too old fashioned, and more importantly not earning the money they felt they deserved, the PDC was created, just like the big football clubs created the Premier League; to cream off the money. Now the PDC comprises of full time players and the BDO mainly people who have other jobs. To me – and it is a personal view – the PDC, for all its showbiz and hype, is more of a WWE event on lager. It is a sport as an exhibition. It is massively popular and every year the best players from the BDO move to the PDC and, generally, disappear into obscurity.

I watched some of the PDC piss up at the Ally Pally and after a few days became tired of it. It was the same show every single night. The loudest, drunkest crowd you could ever imagine not really paying any attention to what is happening on stage. Few of the players had personalities, just gimmicks. The organisers were polishing turds and people were buying them. By the time Phil “The Power” Taylor had failed to win in his last tournament to the charisma-free up and coming Rob Cross, I had long lost interest and avidly looked forward to the BDO version. I haven’t been disappointed.

Everything, except the actual darts, was better in the BDO. The presentation, the commentators and pundits and the crowd and the only women on stage were players. The players’ scoring was nothing like as good as the BDO but it didn’t matter. It felt more like an authentic sport than a bawdy night out in an arena where no one could even see the board and most people didn’t care anyway. And it is not compulsory at Lakeside to be steaming drunk before the first game even starts.

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