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JULY 2010

BOBBY’S BLOG

Some people in this magazine (no name necessary, because there isn’t one!) love dishing it out, but can’t take it back.  Like Clive Dunn used to say in BBC’s ‘Dad’s Army’: They don’t like it up ‘em Mr,Mannering!

I won’t waste my time commenting any further.

However, I do feel that I must comment on the Welsh Open (as a punter watching and not a player playing in it) because after the success of the British Internationals on the internet, coverage was, to say the very least, disappointing. 

The only plus point in the absence of David Croft in the commentary box (he chose Formula 1 in Monaco over darts in Prestatyn – silly boy!) Little Richard Ashdown was a very able substitute.

OK. I know I’m biased because I have known Richard for a long time, but everyone I spoke to agrees that he did a first-class job, even giving a breakdown of scores in the absence of any on-screen information or a proper spotter!

He was literally flying by the seat of his pants live on the internet!!

But from the good to the bad and the ugly: The poor coverage was mirrored in the lack of information and results on the websites…there wasn’t any on finals day, and it didn’t appear until a couple of days after it was all over!

I thought I could catch up on the BDO or WDO websites. Wrong! I wanted to see who went out in what round, but I didn’t get that information until the Tuesday or Wednesday!  I can’t remember exactly which day, because I was so frustrated that I lost interest!  And that’s not good.

I love all these open events, and it’s one thing to be frustrated by the streaming, but quite another about the results.  Surely those people on the spot (in this case the WDO) could and should get these results to the various websites as they happen?

If there was any logical reason why this didn’t happen then I apologise, but as someone who loves darts and wants to see how players are doing (especially the big boys) then it is hugely frustrating to have nothing to look at!

Having said all that, it makes you wonder why we worry about such things when we lose characters like the BDO’s Mick Getty, who was taken from us at the relatively young age of 65.

I can’t claim to have known Mick that well, but I certainly saw him a lot and knew of him.  One thing’s for sure, he was a BDO man through and through and an ever-present at all BDO events – as was his wife Sue.

He was head of the BDO stage crew and his razor-sharp Scouse humour and devotion to his beloved Everton FC, was legendary.

He was a county secretary, former BDO Director and England Selector, but in his heart he was an adopted Welshman.  So it was very fitting that his wife Sue proudly took him back to the Valleys for the last time for his memorial service and cremation last month.

There was a big turn out of officials and players (lots of BDO, England and Wales jackets) to pay their respects to a man who had devoted most of his life to darts. Martin Fitzmaurice gave a fittingly moving tribute and there was hardly a dry eye in St.David’s Methodist Church, Barry, where Mick and Sue were married some 15 years ago.

Mick Getty was a larger than life character who loved his darts, and our sport is all the poorer without him.

Is it just me, or are 9-darters at PDC tournaments becoming the norm rather than the rarity they once were? There were three in one month featured in the last issue of Darts World. They are now becoming as common as Phil Taylor victories!

Turning the clock back to the 1970’s I remember playing a game with the late Ronnie Hayward (brother of the lovely Lil Coombes – the top lady darts player of that time) in which I hit TWO 9-darters back to back!  And I wasn’t dreaming!

And remember, this was on an Elm board throwing from 8 feet. A different world from today.

In my book ‘Bobby Dazzler’ I wrote about that incredible night of darts at the King George V in London when Ronnie threw first and was actually on two 9-darters himself.  He missed double 18 and I then stepped up and checked my first 9-darter. In the next leg, Ronnie won the bull after 6 darts apiece, we were both on for a 9-darter. Ronnie failed to hit his double 18  but I hit mine and checked out for a wonderful double 9-darter.

Ronnie was shaking when he told me: ‘Bob, you’ve got to believe me mate, that just doesn’t happen!’  After all these years, I know that only too well.

My congratulations to all the players who have achieved the ultimate in darts excellence, but I would welcome some views on why there are so many of them all of a sudden. 

Phil Taylor has now hit an incredible total of nine 9-Darters on TV and that’s a bit special, but then again, so is he as a player.  As I said in a recent interview: ‘Players like Phil come along once in a lifetime.  It’s just a pity that he’s come along in my lifetime!’

I bet there are a few players saying that in the PDC. It just seems that he has set the bar so high that he is unbeatable.  But then, that’s not luck or simply talent.  That’s down to loads of practice and total dedication to his gift.

There just isn’t another player in world darts who does what Phil does.  Until the others catch on to the fact that you can’t just turn up and expect to win, then he will remain unbeatable.

So, to get back to the endless 9-Darters, is it because the standards of play are getting higher? Is it the technology and design of the darts? Are the dartboards getting bigger in the treble and double sectors? Or is it something else?

The question is intriguing, because the two top events in world darts – the World Masters and World Pro – have been played for over 30 years and each has only produced one 9-darter apiece: Paul Lim at the 1990 Embassy and John Boy Walton at the 2007 World Masters.

And, before someone (we all know who) jumps in with the predictable ‘PDC players are better than BDO players’ can I remind everyone that most (if not all) of those who have hit 9-darters in the PDC were initially playing BDO/WDF darts.

So, that’s that one answered……now it’s over to you!

Perhaps we should set the bar higher and go for the recognised ‘pure’ 9-Darter of three consecutive throws of 167 (t-20, t-19, Bull). No chance of any flukes (in off the barrel) just complete accuracy.

That would be a challenge, but let’s face it, a 9-Darter is a 9-Darter (all 3944 of ‘em) and not one is easy! It is the ultimate dream of any player and once again (irrespective of theories) my congratulations go to all those who have hit them in competition (especially on TV).

I’ve hit loads in practice, as have many players, and in games like that night in the King George with Ronnie Hayward, but it takes real bottle to get one in the full glare of the TV cameras.

Moving on to the ever-growing darts calendar, July is a bumper month for the men, women and boys and girls who love our sport.

First up, on Saturday, July 10th, all roads lead to the home of world darts, Lakeside for the annual coming together of the top players in BDO County darts (men’s and women’s singles and pairs).

The BDO Gold Cup has been going as long as the World Pro and is the showcase for the county system and its players who have the opportunity to play on the most famous stage in world darts.

That’s a prize in itself!

The EDO stage both the England National Singles and England Masters a week later at Edgeley Park in Stockport.

Again, this is a showcase for both the men and women and youngsters.  Saturday (17th) is the England National Singles (won by Ian White and Trina Gulliver last year) and on the Sunday the England Masters will be the main attraction.  Trina won this last year to chalk-up a memorable double, and the men’s title went to the irrepressible Brian ‘Pecker’ Woods.

As I mentioned in my last Blog, July comes to an end with the BDO British Classic, British Teenage and Youth KO Cup being played at the new venue of Towerlands Park, Braintree on July 24th and 25th.

It’s just down the road from George Hall but I won’t be popping in due to other commitments.

Must tell you about a recent visit to see Babs Vincent, a dear old lady who used to play in the Witham League.  The last time I saw her she was a mere youngster of 75, now she’s in her 80s and living in a care home.

She’s a bit fragile nowadays, but she’s got all her marbles and still loves darts (and me she keeps telling everyone).  I laughed my head off when she told me that she woke up the other day and couldn’t find her teeth!  They weren’t in the glass by her bed and the nurses looked under the sheets, under the bed, everywhere – but they were nowhere to be found!

“It was really terrible, Bob,’ she told me. ‘A girl can’t be seen without her teeth and I was a bit upset.’  Then, when she went for her shower she found them in her drawers!  They had come out in the night and found themselves down there and because she’d laid on them they had left marks on her body.

“With a cheeky twinkle in her eye she said: ‘I made all the nurses laugh when I told them I hadn’t had teeth marks that low down for years!”

What a darling she is.  God Bless you, Babs for making us all smile.

Another reason to smile was a great charity night at the Cricketers Pub in Gillingham for the Rotary Club, where they raised £2000 and it was my great pleasure to be with them on their presentation night.

I got up and thanked Little Richard as MC, the committee and Rotary for raising loads of dosh, and ‘The Fuhrer’ for her continued support! When they asked me who the Fuhrer was, I explained it was Marie, who was my driver on the night.

‘But, she looks nothing like The Fuhrer’, someone said.

“Since she’s let her hair grow and shaved off her moustache, I must admit you are probably right” I replied,  “but before that she was a dead ringer for The Fuhrer and she does shout and ‘dictate’ a lot!”

Well, everyone fell about laughing except Marie, but as I keep telling her: ‘I’m only joking, Doll.  Honest!!

Until next month, Auf Weidersehen Pet!

 

 

 

 

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