What a busy month I’ve had! I’ve travelled up and down the country like a demented yo-yo and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I seem to have been caught up in hold-ups and traffic jams from the M25 to the M1, A14, A1 and everywhere in between!
Mind you, I had to laugh when I said to my Robert: “I’ve never seen so many hold-ups on the motorways as I have in the last few weeks.” He looked at me, as only Rob would, and said: “How many robberies have there been, dad?
Oh well, on to more serious (only slightly) matters:
As the England Darts Organisation PR Executive for the media – not many people know that – not even the England Darts Organisation!! I must make a short and sweet response to the letter in last month’s Darts World from Adam Hickling of Southend-on-Sea. He really has got his wires crossed and his facts wrong when it comes to International selection.
‘IF YOU DONT PLAY COUNTY YOU CANT PLAY COUNTRY – ITS AS (SIMPLES) AS THAT’!
Staying with England, it was good to see that the England Open was a great success in Selsey. It provided victory for Trina Gulliver in the Women’s Singles and another impressive win for Yorkshire’s Dean Winstanley, who won the German Open earlier this year.
By one of those quirky coincidences in World Cup year it made me smile to see Dean triumphing over both Germany and England!
Whatever the case, at the time of writing, it has elevated him to joint 14th in the BDO Invitation table with Tony O’Shea. At this rate, Dean is Lakeside bound and is just one of many ‘new’ and exciting names emerging from the BDO counties.
Top of that list at the moment is young Stuart Kellett from Cheshire who has already won this year’s Scottish Open and Antwerp Open, and is currently sitting pretty at Joint 3rd in the BDO Invitation Table with Hollands Joey Ten Berge.
I did an exhibition with Martin Adams and played with an old set of darts I found in the house. They had short points and when Martin and I had a practice every time I threw three darts, one of them fell out.
“Do you realise that in three throws you lost three darts”, Bob, said Martin. “Oh, they didn’t fall out,” I told him. “I was aiming for the wire and hit it with each of those three darts. That’s when I know I’m throwing well.”
He gave me a funny look and when we started the exhibition proper his first dart hit the wire and fell to the floor. He turned round, gave me a wink and said: ‘I’m playing well, Bob’ with a huge grin on his face. The punters hadn’t got a clue what he was talking about, but me and Martin did!
I played Barney up North and wound him up because it was the same night Holland were playing in the World Cup. “The Germans played well tonight” I said. “He gave me a typical Barney look and said: ‘The Germans didn’t play. It was the Dutch.’
‘Well, you live next door to them and it’s got to rub off’ I said as he failed to see the humorous side. Why is it that in Europe it is only we Brits who have a sense of humour? But then, poor Barney hasn’t just got a chip on his shoulder, he’s got a one hundredweight sack of spuds that he carries around like he’s got the world on his shoulders.
I went to the Gate Inn (it was open) in Leicester for Chris Sargeant. It was to celebrate the birthdays of three ladies and I had a great night with some more PDC players – Dennis Priestley, Terry Jenkins and Andy Smith. We had a real fun night filled with friendship, loads of laughs and not a whiff of animosity.
Someone had posted on Facebook that the BDO were a bunch of ar**holes, and I made them laugh by saying: ‘But we all came from the same ar**hole! And they all said, you’re absolutely right Bob. What’s more, we all agreed that this silly and childish nastiness comes from some bitter and twisted individuals – the majority of whom aren’t players.
Let me say here and now, I get on great with PDC players and BDO players. In fact, all darts players (well, nearly all!) get on very well together.
I told the punters that Dennis was the only player I know who has a white moustache and jet-black hair that he doesn’t dye! Oh, really?
I also told them of the time in Holland when 25 meat pies were left on a table for the players and when we came back from the toilet Andy had eaten all of them! The legend of ‘Andy ate all the pies’ was born on that day and he’ll always be ‘The Pie Man’!
As for Terry Jenkins…..well, everyone burst out laughing when I said: Terry travels the world, but how does he get through customs with that cat sat on his head!
It was the funniest night in a long time and only ended when I danced to ‘Walk This Way’ (like me and Tony O’Shea did for Sports Relief) and Dennis the Menace offered me a crutch to improve my movement. Cheeky but funny!!
Next I was off to the NEC in Birmingham for the National Union of Students and my pals at John Smith’s. The road curse struck again because the A14 was closed and I actually had to take the A1- passed Ted Hankey 3 times he was looking for the A14! The journey took forever, but it was worth it to see all those enthusiastic students gasping for both the John Smith’s and darts, but not necessarily in that order!
I was told that if any of the students beat me they would get a £1,000 iPod, so I made sure that no one did! Trouble is, they gave me the iPod and I couldn’t find the starting handle to get it going, never mind the switch. You need a Degree to figure them out!
Next stop was for Betfred in Nottingham. The place was packed, but it took me 3 hours to get there yet again! I couldn’t figure out if the cheers were to greet my arrival (at last) or because they liked me. I’ll go for the latter!
Then down to London for the Daily Mirror, who had hired the King’s Arms in Holborn for the duration of the World Cup to treat their business associates with some World Cup entertainment. I was asked to go on a night when there was no football, but again the journey was more of a trial than driving to South Africa.
First of all I got lost and when I wound down the window and asked a geezer: ‘Where’s the King’s Arms, mate?’ He turned out to be a joker. ‘They’re attached to his shoulders” he said with a huge grin. But I did get there and a lovely Daily Mirror girl called Chelsea (what else when you are going to a football do?) had promised to stand in a parking bay just for me.
Trouble is, as I arrived a bloke in a brand new BMW swept into the spot and beat me to it. I pulled up, and as I got out the car ready for a bit of verbal, he recognised me. “I don’t believe it’s you, Bobby’ he said. Give me an autograph and the parking space is yours”. No problem I said, but is there any chance of you putting the money in the meter first!!!
What you might call an own-goal!!!!
On the subject of the World Cup, I woke up the other night and there was a Fairy at the bottom of my bed. He was an Italian Fairy by the name of Tommy Coopello and he asked me to make a wish. ‘I would like to live forever’ I said. ‘That eez not possible’, he replied. That eez the only wish I cannot grant!
‘OK’ I said, ‘I wish I could live long enough to see England win the World Cup again’.
‘You very naughty man, Mr.Bobby,’ he said as he changed from Tommy Coopello to Postman Pat and then vanished in a puff of smoke ‘just like that’!
Must close by telling you about the annual ‘invasion’ by Oliver Croft, son of Olly, who brings a bunch of nutters (nice ones) to George Hall every year for the Paul Gregory Memorial get-together of fishing, food, fun and frolics!
Olly and his pals (see photo) have been coming down for the last 9 years and they bring their own marquee, tents, big screens, fridges, freezers and even the kitchen sink. Over a couple of days they use all my electricity and get through more toilet rolls than at Glastonbury.
But they all have a good time and the biggest laugh I had was when I asked Oliver how many tents his group had (we only make a small charge) and he said: ‘Only four, Bob’. didn’t really believe him, but I accepted what he said…until the day after they’d all gone. A bloke knocked at the door offering me an ariel photograph he’d taken over the weekend and when he showed it me there were 12 Croft tents dotted around the lakes!
‘What a cheeky so that Oliver is’ I said to myself. But I had to laugh, because he’s a real chip off the old block – and I’m sure Olly is proud of him for making the most of his budget!!
I will see them all next year for the 10th Anniversary of the Paul Gregory Memorial, but will be back next month for another Blog. Hasta la Vista!!