Another year has gone and yet another Xmas has arrived and there’s New Year to look forward to – but definitely no lie-in this time around because Lakeside starts on New Year’s Day!
It means no late-night parties or lots of drinking. We have to be all ‘military’ and get to bed straight after listening to Big Ben chiming in 2011, giving everyone a kiss (well, the ladies anyway!) and wishing everyone we see a Happy New Year.
From midnight on December 31st there are just eleven hours before Martin Fitzmaurice (who will be celebrating his 25th year on the Lakeside stage) booms out the first ‘Let’s Play Darts’ of the New Year and Lakeside 2011 get underway on BBC-1 at 1PM.
Blimey, where does the time go? It’s only 5 minutes since Martin Adams was crowned World Champion, and here we go again!
Mind you, it’s only a couple of months that me and Colin Murray were congratulating Wolfie on equalling Bob Anderson’s record of three Men’s Masters titles on the bounce, and now he’s going for a hat-trick of Lakeside titles.
Can he do it?
Well, the one certainty at Lakeside is that there is no certainty if you see what I mean?
How can you make predictions with so many good players in the starting line-up and with another batch of new faces – including two of the top seeds: Stuart Kellett and Dean Winstanley and a couple of talented teenagers.
Stuart was runner-up in the Masters and certainly has the game to win anything, and Dean Winstanley has won loads of titles this year and is more than capable of taking the famous Lakeside stage by storm.
Young Shaun Griffiths, the BDO’s British Teenage Champion, will be 19 when he makes his Lakeside debut, but even younger still is Germany’s Arno Merk, who at just 18 will be the first German to play on the Lakeside stage since Andree Welge in 2002.
And that’s only four of the nine new faces who will be making their debuts in 2011.
I am going to stick my neck out and name two who will definitely make the final: Bobby George and Colin Murray! That is a certainty, but before we do there will be lots of drama, excitement and great darts along the way!
What a mouth-watering way to bring in the New Year!
But, before we get there, I have yet another birthday to celebrate on the 16th! I won’t tell you how old I am, because I’m always told that I can’t count! Anyway, I don’t get older – just younger – ask Marie!
Richie has a memorable birthday on the 18th when he celebrates his 21st. That’s the cue for a party, but before all that, Robert will be 23 on December 12th, so George Hall celebrates it’ annual hat-trick of birthdays. Nothing changes, except my pockets. They just get deeper and deeper!
The World Masters was very enjoyable and I met some lovely people – like a couple of famished looking fans dressed very effectively as skeletons (see photo) - and went to some very tasty pubs and restaurants. Hull is a very busy city and there is certainly lots to choose from.
For instance, we had some great meals in a Weatherspoons pub close to the City Hall. I’ve eaten in some fancy places in my time, but the steak I had in Weatherspoons was one of the best I’ve ever had – as was the curry.
We also went to one of the oldest pubs (could have been the very oldest) in Hull called Ye Olde White Harte. One of the rooms was called ‘Ye Plotting Parlour’ and it is said that King Charles 1 prompted a revolution in there with Oliver Cromwell and a Russian Ambassador!
Sounds a bit like a BDO Council Meeting!
Seriously, Hull has (allegedly) been a centre of intrigue and war-mongering over the years. Thankfully, it’s now just a very friendly city with lots of lovely people and I met loads of Americans, Dutch and even Japanese in the Olde White Harte, and they all had one thing in common. They were there for the World Masters.
One other thing: They loved the City and the historic buildings – especially the City Hall, which is a fascinating building, filled with lots of rooms and high ceilings. There’s a statue of Queen Victoria in the Square outside, because she visited there with Prince Albert. In fact, they stayed at the old Station Hotel – now the Royal Hotel – where Winmau had their annual dinner dance.
The grand organ in the City Hall is over 100 years old and was used as a backdrop for the World Masters stage. That was a cue for Colin Murray to turn up in top hat and tails (Phantom of the Opera style) and get me to ‘play’ him a tune on the biggest organ in town! (see photo).
‘What do you think of this’ said Colin as he pointed out the organ, and I turned round and said: ‘Luvverly, Jubbly’!
I must say that the ladies darts impressed me at this year’s World Masters, and I was particularly impressed by Julie Gore of Wales, whose outstanding performances led to her being crowned the Women’s World Masters title for the first time in a great career.
One moment stood out for me was in her Semi-Final with Karin Krappen of The Netherlands. At 3-3 they had to bull-up and Julie hit the bull three times in succession. There aren’t many men who can do that!
Could you? Should you be 2010 Women’s World Master? The answer most definitely is yes as she went on to beat another Dutch lady, Francis Hoenselaar 4-1 in the final. Well done, Julie (see photo of her celebrating with Barbara Windsor).
Moving on from Hull to Dundee, I did an exhibition at the Grosvenor Casino and was looked after brilliantly by Dean Cormack. Nothing was too much trouble and I soon found out that in Dundee you can have your cake and eat it (get it? Dundee Cake??).
Anyway, you can have anything and eat it, because these Grosvenor Casino’s are open 24 hours and food and drink is available all the time. Everything is spot on and after Dundee, I did another one in Cardiff and it was just as enjoyable.
Another very enjoyable night was the annual Sporting Heroes Luncheon at the Hilton Hotel in Hyde Park, London – where I found myself rubbing shoulders with loads of sporting greats like rugby’s Will Greenwood, MBE and snooker’s John Parrott who, like me, is still waiting to get an award!
It was a fantastic occasion, with something in the order of £200,000 grand being raised for loads of good causes. One of the donated ‘raffle’ prizes was a trip to the Rugby World Cup final in New Zealand with business-class flights and spending money. It was worth £16,000 alone, but needless to say, I didn’t win.
I never win a BDO raffle either!
I found myself on a table sponsored by ASDA, and the executives were delighted when I told them that I shopped there, and bought all my clothes from their George range. Which is absolutely true. I love Asda Price!
Just to prove it, I showed them the label in my shirt, and the George name in my shoes.
They had to laugh when I told them that I put a big ‘B’ in front of the George name to give me an exclusive designer label of ‘B.George’.
They were well impressed and I’m waiting for the contract to arrive any day now!
All that remains is for me to wish all my readers a Very Happy Xmas and Lakeside New Year!