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January 2010

BOBBY’S BLOG: Darts World January 2010

I have just realised that I made my World Pro debut 30 years ago, and this year will be my eleventh consecutive Lakeside as a presenter and pundit.

Where do all the years go?

Of course, 201 0 is different, because for the first time in all of those years, Ray Stubbs won’t be alongside me. He’s now doing well with the football at ESPN and I have a brand new co-presenter this year in Colin Murray, who will be making his debut in darts presentation.

He’s done just about everything else though!

In the same year (1999) that I made my Lakeside debut in front of camera, he made his debut on BBC Radio 1 in his home country of Northern Ireland. He moved to Radio 5 Live Sport in 2009 and is currently hosting ‘Fighting Talk’, a comedy panel game on 5 Live.

In between he’s been involved in American football and domestic football and tried his hand on ‘Countdown’ and even the Glastonbury Festival and Celebrity Master Chef.

Still only 32, he is now at Lakeside to experience the wonderful atmosphere of the best tournament in world darts and, even after everything else he’s done, I think he’s going to find it very special.

Welcome aboard Colin.

Also staying on as part of the BBC presentation team is the lovely Rob Walker, who co-presented with me at the World Masters.

Rob is a bit of a regular with the televised snooker, but after 2 days in Bridlington for the Masters, he’s now a darts convert!

He will be doing some interviews during Lakeside week, as well as presenting the highlights. It’s good to have him back.

We now have the 8 Regional Finalists for John Smith’s People’s Darts, which will once again be a contrast to the main event. These are players who have come through the various pub competitions and have benefited from mentoring by some of the top players at Lakeside – including the No.1 Seed Tony O’Shea.

The Quarter-Finals will be played on the Lakeside stage on the afternoon of January 5th, and representing the North-West will be Jamie Guilfoyle from Accrington, who will be playing Scotland’s Duncan Hastings from Falkirk.

The North will be represented by Raymond Storer, who comes from Ferryhill in Co.Durham, the stamping ground of ‘Ferryhill Flyer’ Phill Nixon, who came so close to winning Lakeside in 2007. Now it’s Raymond’s chance to fly the flag for Ferryhill, when he plays Yorkshire finalist Graham Elvidge from Scarborough.

The Central Region will have Stuart Ward of Peterborough playing South Region finalist Mark Petchey from Basingstoke, and John Quinn from Port Talbot (representing Wales) will play the most unusual finalist – Merv Hathaway from Bristol (representing the South West).

Why is he unusual? I hear you ask. Well, he just happens to be the Editor of ‘We Love Darts’!

It’s a shame our own Darts World Editor Michael Beeken isn’t playing, but I have it from the horse’s mouth that he couldn’t hit a barn door with a javelin! Keep practising for next year, Michael!

Anyway, once again the BBC will add to the ‘specialness’ of the occasion for these players by filming the matches – with the final taking place on Sunday, January 10th as a very special ‘warm-up’ for the 2010 Lakeside World Pro final.

Who will win this year? Just as I can’t predict the eventual John Smith’s Champion, I certainly can’t forecast the Lakeside winner. Both events are so open that they are unpredictable, and that’s the true magic of Lakeside……just take a look at the First Round and you will see what a strong line-up it is to kick-off 2010.

My only prediction is that I will be in the Final on January 10th!!

By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the John Smith’s experience and I saw quite a few tasty players around the country. This year it is good to see Scotland represented, and I think Ross ‘The Boss’ Montgomery enjoyed his mentoring role.

I know I did, but there is very little you can teach players about the actual way they play. The key is to give them the benefit of your experience in things like which way to go with checkouts. Mind you, I probably confused a few of them!

On a personal note, I remember that Tim ‘Teapot’ Jones had no front teeth last year and he must have started a trend in Wales, because this year’s Welsh finalist John Quinn is also missing some front teeth.

I had to laugh when I said to him: ‘Where are your front teeth?’ And he replied: ‘I didn’t bother putting them in because I didn’t think I’d get this far!’

When he gets to Lakeside he’ll probably be playing at tooth-hurty!

While on the subject of the funny things that people say, I did an exhibition with Wayne Mardle recently, and a woman came up to use for an autograph.

It was the usual thing of not having any paper to start with, and then not being able to find a pen. Well, she had one of those massive handbags that you could climb into, and me and Wayne watched as her arms vanished inside trying to find a pen.

After rummaging around without success and pulling out everything but the kitchen sink (and that elusive pen) Wayne said: ‘Be careful you don’t pull out something rude!’ And as he said it she pulled out a photo of Eric Bristow!!

And I couldn’t resist saying: ‘You won’t find anything ruder than that!!!!!!!’

Or maybe you can? I did an exhibition with John Lowe in Wales last month and we both sell framed photos of ourselves to use either as gifts or to scare off burglars! As it was Xmas I put a sticker on mine saying that it was reduced because I’m not as good looking as Lobo!

Funny that, because I’ve had a professional photographer at George Hall taking pictures for an art-exhibition to do with East End darts players. Who knows? I might end up in the Tate Modern?

Had a great time at the Club Mirror Awards in Manchester, where I played a bit of darts and met some nice people – including the lovely Clare Balding, who presented the darts at Lakeside a few years ago.

I think she’s more at home with horses than darts, but she’s always very professional in everything she does. A nice lady.

Another enjoyable day was when I went along to open the Manningtree Angling Shop. I expected to meet loads of fishermen, but instead I met loads of darts players. Maybe some had come along to see me, but I know from my own fishing lakes that darts players love fishing.

There’s nothing fishy in that, nor in the news that we had a collection at the shop and raised £270 for the Lifeboats.

I think all darts people are great supporters of charity, but there are many causes, like the Lifeboats and Air Ambulance that shouldn’t have to depend on the generosity of the public.

It is shameful that politicians spend billions propping up banks and the expect these worthy causes to exist solely through charity.

OOOPS! I’m having a rant again!

Enjoy Lakeside, enjoy 2010 and make a resolution to stay happy and keep smiling. Life’s too short to be miserable.

Hasta la Vista…….I’ll be back!




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