After all those dates in Butlin’s throughout the summer (what summer?) it’s good to be back on the road again with The League of Legends, thanks to loads of hard work by the luvverly jubbly Lee Henderson.
He’s had a shocking time of it in his private life, and the collapse of Setanta Sports means that this year The Legends will not be televised. But that hasn’t stopped Lee doing what he loves doing best of all – promoting darts.
Anyway, we kick-off at the Athena in Leicester, where I will be playing Dave Whitcombe in my opening match. The other games will be Bob Anderson v Peter Evison, Cliff Lazarenko v Eric Bristow and John Lowe v Keith Deller.
It was good to see Dave and Peter at the World Masters, and there’s a nice link to Bob Anderson, because not since he won his three Masters on the spin from 1986 to 1988, has any other player defended his title in consecutive years.
Well, this year ‘Wolfie’ Martin Adams made it two on the trot in one of his trademark ‘seat of the pants’ matches with Robbie Green, who hit a whole string of big checkouts. We all thought Martin was dead and buried at 6-3 down, but we should have known better!
Anyway, back to the League Of Legends, the other dates to look out for this month are the Marton Country Club, Middlesbrough on October 30th, and a Halloween finale at the Rainton Meadows Arena, Houghton-le-Spring on October 31st
Once again Lee has got Betfred on board as sponsors and we will be playing for a tasty 35 Grand in prize money. Not bad for three dates and no telly! The boy’s a genius.
Must share a couple of funnies with you from the wonderful world of darts! I’ve met a few mean (that’s tight!) players in my time, but one sticks out (not likle that!) more than the others. No names (he knows who he is) but one night during an exhibition he spotted a band-aid plaster on the floor and rather than waste it he went home and cut his finger!
But even funnier than that was when he told me that he wakes up at night in a sweat and has to look under the bed to see how much sleep he’s lost!
You’ve got to laugh! It’s only a leg pull, and what’s life without a bit of humour? Like the day I was looking in a butchers window and went in and asked: ‘Is that a sheep’s head in your window?’ and the butcher said: ‘No, it’s a mirror!’
And I always thought I was quite good looking!! Should have given him a couple of chops to go with his tripe!
It was great to welcome presenter Rob Walker to the World Masters. He likes a laugh and looks good in a suit!
But he wasn’t the only celebrity in Bridlington. We had The Paul O’Grady Show at The Spa. Not exactly Paul himself, but his official darts champion and correspondent 11 year-old prodigy, Jordan Singh.
I have played Jordan on the show, but in the actual studio. This time, he came all the way to Bridlington to experience a darts ‘major’ for the first time.
He actually played a match with Wolfie before he was crowned double Masters Champion, with ‘fun’ commentary from ‘yours trully’. But I’m not telling you the result. It will be featured in the new C4 series which started on September 21st (you might have seen it by the time your read this).
There was a nice touch from Winmau and the players when they learned that Jordan was celebrating his 11th birthday on September 10th. As a special darts present, he was given a Winmau Blade 111 signed by most of the players, and a specially engraved darts case with a set of darts.
The young boy is a natural player and I’m certain we will be seeing him as a player in the World Masters in just a few years from now.
By the way, I couldn’t mention it in my last Blog, but what great news that BBC Sport have extended their contract with the BDO to screen the Lakeside World Pro until 2013. Wonder if I’ll get a BBC pension? That would be nice!
Three cheers for the BBC who have been showing the BDO World Pro every year since 1978. Fingers crossed that I’ve go a proper job for another few years.
More great news for darts comes from John Smith’s who are expanding their groundbreaking John Smith’s People’s Dart Championship with more regional finals and four new BDO mentors this year.
There will be additional regional finals in Scotland, Wales and Devon as the tournament for ‘ordinary’ pub and club amateur players goes into its second year.
Joining me are new mentors Tony O’Shea, Darryl Fitton, Ross Montgomery and Trina Gulliver with ‘old boys’ Martin Adams, John Walton and Gary Robson.
Our role is to coach and encourage the eight regional finalists.
Last year it attracted more than 10,000 enthusiastic players from over 800 pubs and clubs in the opening rounds of the tournament. It’s a bit like the
X-Factor of the oche!
Club and pub players from all over the country will be looking to do what Tim ‘Teapot’ Jones did. He won the title on the Lakeside stage this January in front of a capacity audience at Lakeside and a TV audience of millions.
Winning that final earned him automatic entry into three BDO tournaments this year, including the Torremolinos Open and the WInmau World Masters. He also received £1,000 of darts equipment for his local, The Rose & Crown, in Neath and £15,000 for his chosen charity, Arthritis Care.
The good thing is that John Smith’s People’s Darts is open to male and female residents in Great Britain aged 18 years or over, and excludes all professional players from any darts organisations and also International and County players. This is for the real grass-roots players and that makes it very tasty.
The first two regional finals will be this month: The North-West regional will be on October 24th at King George’s Hall, Blackburn followed by the first ever Scottish regional final on October 25th at the Blantyre Club in Glasgow.
The remaining six finals will take place in November and any players interested in competing should look for details in their John Smith’s pubs and clubs. There will be lots of posters or there is a website: www.johnsmiths.co.uk/peoplesdarts
If you think you are good enough, give it a go!
More blogging next month. Hasta la Vista…….I’ll be back!