Last month it was the Masters golf in Augusta with its famous Green Jacket for the Champion, I’ve been awarded with my own Green Jacket (see photo) by no less an authority than the University Darts Association of Ireland…….and they have also thrown in a cap (see photo) polo shirt and even a Bobby George clock!
When you graduate from any other university you get a cap and gown, but the Irish do things their own way and I’ve got the full set and I’m very proud of it.
What an honour! The BDO have maroon jackets (Olly has never given me an honorary one) but I now have my own Green Jacket with my name on it.
OK, it doesn’t fit (only joking!) but it’s the thought that counts!
I’ve been an ambassador for the UDAI for a few years now, and I love going back to Dublin for a bit of the Irish ‘crack’ (not what you’re thinking…I believe it’s spelt craich and means having a good time: a real knees-up Irish style!).
No matter how you spell it – crack or craich - the Irish hospitality is unique in its warmth and generosity. And the Guinness ain’t bad either!
My host in Ireland is darts mad and goes under the nickname of Danger! His real name is Stiofan O’Dalaigh but I call him Danger Man……there’s nothing sinister in it. He’s more Daft (in the nicest possible way) than Danger!
And they don’t do things by halves, because their annual tournament is a real mouthful to announce - the All-Ireland Dave Maye Memorial Team Trophy. But it is keenly contested and was regained this year by the Carlow team who defeated Limerick by a 7-5 scoreline.
Danger, representing Independent Colleges, actually reached the singles final but, in his own words, was ‘destroyed’ by Paddy Barcoe of Carlow to win the All-Ireland University Masters Title sponsored by DB Darts of Ireland.
While I was there I had a ball doing an exhibition in Brennan’s Bar in Graiguecullen (and they say Welsh names are hard to pronounce) and would like to say a very big thank-you to all those I met and had fun with (in the nicest possible way!).
Funny. They were all after my shirt, but they didn’t get it and I came away with a new Green Jacket……the Master of Darts. It has a ring to it don’t you think?
The ‘ordinary’ people in darts are really the ones that matter, because they play darts for the sheer enjoyment of it rather than for any monetary rewards. OK, if they win a few bob it’s nice, but it’s not the be all and end all of why they love the game.
I have always said that darts is of the people and for the people. I am a professional player and have made a good living from the sport of my choice, but I never forget my roots……!
So, let me return to the real Masters of Darts – the Winmau World Masters, and put to bed another misleading rumour going round that there isn’t going to be one this year.
Easy to answer in one word: Rubbish! Or two words: Absolute Rubbish!!
Pro Life was at it again in the last issue (nothing new there, then?) when he claims that the move to Hull this October somehow raises ‘concerns’ about coverage by the BBC.
What planet is this man on? And why does it concern him where the World Masters is or what the Beeb are thinking? He doesn’t like the BDO or the BBC because they have the ‘nerve’ to show BDO darts!
Well, the Masters has been going since 1974 and like the World Pro (on the BBC since 1978) is a real World Championship.
Just so that the worry doesn’t keep him awake at night, the World Masters will be played in Hull – a bustling Yorkshire city and seaport – because The Spa in Bridlington was not available for the dates chosen by the BBC for maximum coverage this year – October 30th and 31st.
And while we are scotching childish rumours, the World Pro will be played at Lakeside from January 1st to 9th and televised by BBC Sport, who have signed a contract with the BDO until 2013.
It’s a pity that some people haven’t got better things to do with their lives than gossip like fish wives!
Moving on to nicer (funnier) things, I went up to Liverpool on the train recently and was amazed to be greeted by a bronze statue of Ken Dodd – complete with tickling stick - at Lime Street Station.
I wish I could say it was ugly, but it wasn’t. Clearly Ken must have posed for it many years ago, because he looks far younger and handsomer than he does today!
Mind you, only a Scouser could put these things in perspective because while I was standing in front of the statue open-mouthed, a likely lad came up to me and said: ‘I know what you’re thinking, Bobby. In real life he’s an ugly so and so and they’ve made him look good in bronze. And with that he threw in: ‘And he’s not funny either!’
Nothing like being a Prophet in your own land is there?
For the record, Ken Dodd is funny (very funny) but even he would admit that he’s no Matinee Idol. In his stage act he has this wonderful line when he says: ‘I know you will find this hard to believe, but I wasn’t a good looking child!’ He then goes on to say that when he was born he was so ugly that they slapped his mother, and he had a dummy with a 12 inch flange!
Marie and I went to Kempton races and she picked a horse called ‘My Place Later’ so I chose one called ‘You’ll Be Lucky’.
The moral of this story? That’s no way to pick a horse because they both lost!
I’ve heard players in certain quarters are to be fined £100 a time for not marking after they’ve been beaten, which is just as bad as having to mark when you win!. Well, I certainly wouldn’t pay and make no secret of the fact that I hate marking (as many people know).
Surely it shouldn’t be compulsory? The simple answer is that a player who doesn’t want to mark or can’t mark easily, should be able to nominate a stand-in to do it for him..
The moral of this story? Don’t treat players like children and they won’t act like children!
Finally, congratulations to the Men and Women of England on their fantastic ‘double’ in the BDO British Internationals, and what a bonus for the BDO to have internet streaming giants 110sport.tv on board.
I’ve been told that it was seen in over eighty countries and attracted a global audience of zillions! Well done BDO and well done England.
Moving away from the obvious winners of the Internationals weekend, I must make mention of two BDO youngsters who did exceptionally well.
First of all, Stephen Bunting who was 25 three days before he stepped up to the oche to turn in the performance of the weekend in the final match against Scotland. His opponent Ernest Brown hit a single dart average of 30.94, which would normally win any match, but Stephen produced an amazing 35.63 single dart average, which was the highest of the Internationals.
Notably, Stephen was a BDO British Teenage winner and twice BDO Young Player of the Year. What a shining example he is to kids coming through the BDO system.
My second young star of the Internationals was Jamie Lewis of Wales – still only 18 and making his International debut for Wales. He didn’t win either of his two games, but he shouldn’t be downhearted. Anything but! He should be very proud of himself.
The 2009 Winmau Boys Masters Champion collected his first cap against Stewart Rattray of Scotland and the scoreline of 2-3 was a credit to the youngster, but yet again to prove that averages don’t mean everything, he hit an excellent 30.36 single dart average in his first ever International match and still lost to Stewart who had an average of 28.87.
In his second match, Jamie ran into an in-form Garry Thompson who started off with a 12-dart leg! But Jamie played well and recorded another great average of 29.43 against Garry’s Man of The Match performance of 31.31.
Like Stephen, Jamie is a shining beacon for BDO youth darts and I reckon that both of them have the potential to become World Champions. Whatever the case, they are a credit to our sport and I congratulate them both.