Thy name is darts

On Sunday, January 13th, 2013, Scott Waites (or Scotty Too Hotty to his fans) took home his first ever BDO World Darts Championship at Lakeside. Brushing aside the like of Tony O’Shea and the irrepressible Richie George, Waites looked good for his title all week, but it is not really the outcome I’m hugely interested in.

Scott Waites took home his first ever BDO World Darts Championship at Lakeside in January 2013. Photo: Richard Matthews (via Flickr)

Anyone could have won it for all I cared.

For me, darts is one of those sports I enjoy purely for the atmosphere. There are those who dismiss it due to its image. Fat blokes throwing darts, it doesn’t bear the same beauty as Ronaldo skipping like a gazelle across finely trimmed grass. But if it’s real men you’re after, come on in.

Initially, there is the crowd to acknowledge. To put it as simply as possible, it’s a massive pub meets Butlins with a stag and hen do all at once. Near constant noise, dress up, signs and booze, the crowd makes darts what it is and sets the atmosphere. Think England does Rio De Janeiro. Sort of.

Adding to the fun of the darts fair, the players get involved in the cheesiness, which I enjoy. When you get 32 men to choose their own walk on music and nicknames finely emblazoned on the back of their gawdy shirts, you’re guaranteed a laugh, and it gets the crowd going. The sight of the massive Robbie Green walking on to “Rockin’ All Over The World” with the nickname “Kong” on his shirt is enough to garner my attentions.

Then there is the game itself. Basically, you either like it or you don’t. When the TV snooker tournaments come around it takes me a couple of days to get into watching it, but the simplicity of darts grips me straight away.

The quickness of the legs and sets, the ebb and flow of momentum in a game and the repetitive mathematics makes for an excellent spectator sport. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but at its best it makes for supremely tense telly. There’s not much to understand in the grand scheme of things. Just 501 to 0 in as few darts as possible.

Finally, the unlikely pairing that has made this Lakeside all the more enthralling for me? The genius duo that is Bobby George and Colin Murray.

Now no offence intended to Bobby, but I think it is the quick Irish wit of Colin up against the darts layman that is Bobby that makes it special. Murray is the perfect mix of fan meets comedian for the role, and darts is in Bobby’s blood as much as football was in Pele’s.

So what’s the moral? I get a bit fed up of people who look down their noses at darts I suppose.

The ability to slot a pressure dart from just under eight feet away into a double is a difficult skill. Football, cricket, athletics it ain’t, but a display of the finest hand-eye coordination it is. If you take darts for what it is, it’s brilliant, and the high drama it produces is as good as any spectator sport.

So congratulations to Scott Waites. The tournament produced some fine moments but he took it the furthest with some sensational throwing.

I just hope darts remains what it is in the future. Let’s not kid ourselves, we’ve lost football to the billionaires. But where football has seemingly forgotten its roots at the top level, darts continues to please the masses, and provides entertainment which, pound for pound, is arguably the best in world sport.

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