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Published to coincide with the 2007 BDO World Professional Darts Championships frostom 6th-14th January in Frimley Green

Click Here to Buy
Bobby Dazzler
online at Amazon.co.uk

Now Available In Paperback

 

 


After a tough childhood, helping his imposing dad in the garden, looking after his pigeons, Bobby George left school early barely able to read or write. A life in the building trade - digging the Victoria Line on the London underground and laying concrete and granite floors - or minding Essex pub doors in the post-Krays era seemed to beckon.

That is until, after a day's fishing off southern Ireland in the summer of 1976, a game of pub darts got off the ground. By the end of the night Bobby had taken on and beaten the whole pub. He was a natural. He has never really looked back: three years later he won the News of the World Championship.

Bobby George burst onto the darts scene just as the popularity of darts went through the roof and began its golden era. Slimmer than most, good-looking and toned, Bobby, with his glittery shirts and flashy jewellery, brought showbiz to darts. Here he relives the gripping moments of the News of the World and Embassy finals. He looks back over the ups and downs of life with characters such as Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, John 'Stoneface' Lowe and Keith Deller, and also the agony of the 1994 Embassy final, which he played in a steel corset after breaking his back.

From rags to bling, from the world of Essex pubs in the 1970s to behind the scenes with the BBC at Frimley Green, from films and videos to Celebrity Fit Club, BOBBY DAZZLER: My Story is the vividly entertaining tale of one of the country's best loved and most charismatic showmen.

Bobby George was born in Manor Park, east London, in December 1945. He was thirty before he threw his first dart. Months later he won the first serious competition he entered: the 1976 Essex Masters. He won the News of the World tournament in 1979 and famously competed for the 1980 Embassy World Championship title with Eric Bristow. After winning the News of the World title for a second time in 1986 he retired to become the game's first ever full-time exhibition player. He is now a respected darts pundit for the BBC, as well as guv'nor for his self-built, eighteen bedroom mansion, George Hall, in Essex where he lives with his wife, Marie.

Lance Hardy is the series editor of Final Score on BBC 1 and Score on BBCi. He began his career as a newspaper journalist before joining BBC Sport in 1990. He has since worked at three World Cups and two Olympic Games.

Lance first met Bobby in 1996 at the World Championship qualifiers at Earl's Court. They have been good friends ever since.

Bobby George is available for interview. For further information, please contact Alex Hippisley-Cox on 020 8488 3764 or email her at ahipcoxpr@btconnect.com

By Andy Fairclough, Superstars of Darts

Bobby Dazzler by Bobby George (and Lance Hardy)

Published by Orion

'Bobby Dazzler' is possibly the most enjoyable darts autobiography to date as it follows the life and career of perhaps Darts' biggest ever character, Mr. Glitter himself Bobby George.

That the book is so enjoyable must be in no small part to the skills of co-writer Lance Hardy who has done an admirable job in telling Bobby's story in a structured and literate manner.

The book traces Bobby George's life from the very beginning and the early death of his mother, through a poor childhood with a domineering father and a succession of jobs before he became a darts player. I bet not too many Londoners know that Bobby helped construct the Victoria Line tunnels that tens of thousands of people use every day for example.

As with a lot of darts players Bobby seemed to come into the game by chance and through the encouragement of anothers took the game more seriously and became a big success very quickly.

The documentation of Bobby's professional career is excellent and there are many stories from along the road, including some great ones featuring one of the true darting legends 'Jocky Wilson'. Bobby explains reasonably why he gave up the darts circuit and charts his fantastic return in the 1990s.

Bringing things up to date Bobby talks about his new found celebrity status and his experiences of appearing in feature films, reality TV and more besides.

Surprisingly there is little criticism and badmouthing of others that many might have expected from this book and so the gossip hunters may have to hunt elsewhere for their fix.

But what the book does achieve successfully is to paint a detailed and entertaining picture of a hard working man's extraordinary life from very humble beginnings.

It's simply a must have book for any Darts fans' library.

By Andy Fairclough, Superstars of Darts

 

From the Field, Dartoid

THAT'S THE WAY TO WRITE IT, Bobby George!!!

The thing about Bobby George's first book, Bobby Dazzler, My Story, is that you don't need to read a review to decide whether or not you want to plunk down money to buy the book. Just as you know you gotta watch when George bounds on stage decked out like Elvis, dripping in jewelry, and carrying a candelabra, the sizzling Dazzler cover more sells the steak that follows.

There's George, smiling, hand on chin...

Or is he smiling?

A Rolex and several gold bracelets weigh down his wrist. £5,000 in chunky gold rings adorn his fingers. A necklace made of 46 gold wedding rings dangles from his neck. At home - an eighteen bedroom mansion with a bar and a dining room that seats twenty - his Rolls-Royce glimmers against the green rolling hills and spring-fed lakes in the quiet Ardleigh countryside.

No, George ain't smiling.

He's smirking. Yes, I think he is.

And why not?

Steve Rushin once wrote in Sports Illustrated that "...a dart is not merely rocket-shaped; it can be a rocket and generate escape velocity to break away from the gravitational pull of poverty." Rushin was no friend of the sport but he was certainly right about its life changing potential. Nobody represents that better than Bobby George. And George knows it.

Love him or hate him (there aren't a whole lot of people in the middle), you owe it to yourself to click to his website (http://bobbygeorge.com) and order a book from his wife and manager, Marie. She's the hot brunette on the front page of the website. She's the even hotter brunette pictured just above the once popular Page 3 Girl, Maria Whittaker, among the photos in the center of the book.

THAT'S THE WAY TO PHOTOGRAPH IT!

Co-authored with journalist Lance Hardy, Dazzler is published by the Orion Publishing Group and offered at £18.99. Included is the most touching Foreword I have ever read - by George's best mate, John Lowe.

THAT'S THE WAY TO BULLSHIT IT!

Seriously, this book is a must read, whatever your station in the sport.

One has to appreciate what George, born into relative poverty, has accomplished, against the odds. This is the boy who left school at the age of fourteen with a debilitating stutter, barely able to read and write - and certainly unable to calculate a simple out shot. This is the teenager and young man who rambled through a series of jobs - working in a nursery, building maintenance, painting houses, cleaning windows, laying floors and more - before picking up his first dart at the age of thirty and finding that he was a natural. This is the man who during his darting career battled on despite a broken back and a ruptured spleen and who today - with a replaced knee and without an amputated toe - still has his sights fixed on lifting the trophy that has eluded him at Lakeside.

And what a career it has been. Despite an unconventional stroke and even odder approach to finishing, among other darting claims-to-fame, George won the North American Open in 1978, the News of the World TWICE, in 1979 and 1986 (on the former occasion without dropping a single leg during the ten-month tournament from pub to the Grand Final), back-to-back Butlin's Grand Masters (1979 and 1980), the European Singles Championship (1982), represented England TWENTY-FIVE times and, perhaps most notably of all, battled it out with Eric Bristow in front of a crowd dressed in suits in the final of the 1980 Embassy in what was arguably the match, the moment, that changed the sport of darts forever.

THAT'S THE WAY TO STROKE IT!

Along the way George is credited, or credits himself, with designing the Champion's Choice dartboard, nicknaming Lowe and Bob Anderson, knocking out one of his school teachers in a boxing match, defeating the Canadian arm-wrestling champion, seeing his wife (the first spouse ever) seated at Lakeside among the spectators, being the first to use walk-on music, the first to raise upwards of a million pounds for charity, the first officially elected "Most Super Tremendously Good Looking Bloke in England," and the ONLY darter ever to parachute out of an airplane and float onto stage for a televised final wearing nothing but a fluffy terrycloth nappy.

THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT!

Particularly interesting (and a take you will find nowhere else in the "burgeoning" library of books on darts) is George's perspective on the tumultuous BDO/WDC (now PDC) spilt in 1992. George of course, did not make the switch and that sadly led some of those who did to end friendships with him.

He talks of his loyalty to the BDO's Olly Croft and, describing himself as more of a BDO "sympathizer" than a "supporter," expresses genuine disinterest in the politics of the sport and, simply, a far greater love for entertainment and showmanship (which was how he was making his living at the time anyway) than for collecting tournament victories.

George's recollections and motivations are fascinating to read. He tells is like it is, to him, and that's all you can ask of anybody. Despite his personal decision not to switch sides, he admits (although many would say not nearly strongly enough) that the BDO may have reacted "perhaps, a little harshly" by banning players who so much as attended a WDC function. He includes (in a context probably never used before) the name of Robert Holmes and the word "mastermind" in the same sentence.

But Holmes is George's friend, just as is Croft. You can't fault a man for loyalty.

THAT'S THE WAY TO EXPLAIN IT!

In a phrase (to quote the Orion Publishing Group's press release), Bobby Dazzler, My Story is a "vividly entertaining...rags to bling tale... from the world of Essex pubs in the 1970s to behind the scenes with the BBC at Frimley Green, from films and videos to Celebrity Fit Club... of one of (England's) best loved and most charismatic showmen."

Yes, agree or disagree, like or dislike the man, one can't dispute that the sport of darts changed Bobby George's life and Bobby George changed the sport of darts. Today he leads the good life and it's a life he earned himself. He's traveled the world, married the pretty girl, sang with Diana Ross, and even chowed down square hamburgers - with square onions and square tomatoes - in California (something I haven't done and I live in the damn country). Except for the Embassy and an odd tournament here and there he hasn't competed seriously in twenty years.

But the darts are still in his blood (he's set a goal of making it to Lakeside yet again in his sixties) and his blood is most certainly something that will forever mark the game.

"Darts is about razzmatazz today," he says, "and that all began with me."

No one can argue with that.

How does the book end? With a small dose of reality and a poem that will bring a tear to many eyes.

"The way I see it," George writes, "it doesn't matter if you are world champion or world number one, if your telephone doesn't ring, no one wants to book you... Trophies alone don't earn darts players a living. They never have. I have always tried to put entertainment and laughter into darts and when I do finally pack this game in, the one thing I hope people will remember me for is my smile."

THAT'S THE WAY TO WRITE IT!

And it's just that simple. Whatever you know or think you know or don't know about Bobby George, the man is a darts player's darts player. He just plain loves the game.

Oh, and the poem? I'll say no more, except, it will make you cry. That's a fact.

And, well, okay, it's not by John Lowe.

 

From the Field, Dartoid

 

BOBBY DAZZLES
Darts Historian Patrick Chaplin reviews Bobby George’s biography

Anyone reading Bobby Dazzler – My Story, Bobby George’s recently published biography, and expecting it to reflect the style of his That’s the Way to Do It! column in Darts World magazine will be disappointed. For his first major published work, Bobby, with the help of journalist Lance Hardy, adopts a more serious, yet relaxed writing style, demonstrating Bobby’s wish to make it, as he told me recently, “More than just a book about darts.”

I have always pictured Bobby as a showman – which he undoubtedly is – but his book reveals so much more about the man and the world he has worked so hard to create for himself. By the time most of us reach 30 years of age our vocations have usually been determined. Not so for Bobby. His life and lifestyle changed absolutely and permanently at the age of 30.

Bobby’s early life was very tough yet despite his obvious dislike of his father, Bobby learned through him the value of hard work. By working all the hours the good Lord had given him (plus a few more), whether is was digging an underground railway or minding the doors at pubs and clubs, Bobby gained an undying respect and understanding of the value of money.

Strangely enough, it was his love of fishing that led him to darts. A wet day in Ireland found him sheltering in a pub with a friend who invited Bobby to play a game of darts. Bobby wasn’t really that keen to play and so it could have all ended – or rather not begun – right there. However, he was persuaded to play. Bobby and his friend realised immediately that he had a natural talent for the game and the rest – as they say – is history and neatly chronicled in Bobby Dazzler.

In his book Bobby takes the reader on an upfront and honest journey through the heady world of darts from the 1970s to the present day. Of particular interest to me, as a Darts Historian, was Bobby’s participation in the News of the World. Bobby regards the NoW as a ‘world championship’, which in its time it undoubtedly was. Bobby is one of a small number of elite players who have won the trophy twice, but over an above this he made the Grand Finals on five occasions and qualified for the Area Finals on no less than fourteen occasions. That’s a formidable record. Bobby told me recently, “I should have won it more than that.” His explanation of why he didn’t make fascinating reading.

Bobby has some strong words to say about some his fellow professionals. He describes his close friendship with five times Embassy Champion Eric Bristow, and sums ‘The Crafty Cockney’ up as ‘arrogant, but deep down a decent bloke.’ One other former Embassy World Professional Darts Champion comes in for more vitriol than any other. For the purposes of this review, that champion will not be named, yet, it is fascinating to note from my research that both he and Bobby have two things in common over and above their love of the game. They both started in darts relatively late and both believe in fate. Bobby wrote, “I never really sat down and thought long and hard about making a living out of darts. The game just snowballed and took over my life. Fate decided that path for me.” Fate also brought him to meet the love of his life, his wife Marie.

But it’s not just some of his fellow professionals that fall victim of Bobby’s pen. He does not spare the rod and neither the BDO nor MCs and officials escape criticism. Bobby’s views on the disintegration of friendships as increased prize money led to increased gamesmanship and darts became ‘bitter and twisted’, make for quality reading. However, his hilarious stories about life on the road, particularly with Jocky Wilson, provide a perfect balance.

Bobby had the skill and the personality to hop on to the darts bandwagon when it began to roll and became a vital part of it. He was one of that group of star darters who helped shape the modern game. He also realised what had to be done to maintain the momentum (and the cash flow) when the popularity of darts waned in the 1980s. Concentrating on exhibitions rather than tournaments paid dividends for him and, whilst other darters found their careers foundering, Bobby stayed in the public eye. Exhibition work maintained his profile through those years when darts was all but lost to our terrestrial TV screens. Then Bobby’s knowledge, personality and experience reaped further rewards when he became the darts pundit (and much more) for the BBC’s continuing coverage of the Embassy (later the Lakeside) World Darts Championships and the WINMAU World Masters.

Having now reached an age when he is entitled to his heating allowance and a free bus pass, Bobby has spent more or less exactly half of his life playing darts and doing what he does best, entertaining his public. It may be that, having reached that certain age, Bobby decided to reveal all by writing his life story. I asked Bobby recently if Bobby Dazzler was in fact the full story. He laughed and told me, “The book was originally twice as thick but the spoilsport libel lawyers cut a lot out!”

Even so, Bobby Dazzler is a joy to read. It’s not full of tabloid-style revelations – so don’t expect much sex – and it’s almost totally devoid of ‘Lovely Jubbly’s. What Bobby George has produced is a fascinating chronicle of the life of a working-class boy who ‘done good’ against the odds. Bobby left school hardly able to read or write but has proved that with the right focus, determination and much hard work, you can achieve your dreams. With Marie by his side, Bobby continues to be a success, long after the names of many of his contemporaries have been consigned to history.

 

BOBBY’S RESPONSE

In reply to my review of ‘Bobby Dazzler’ that appeared in the February 2007 issue of Darts World magazine, Bobby wrote in the March issue:

‘My thanks to Patrick Chaplin – the newly graduated Professor of Darts – for an excellent review in last month’s Darts World, and my apologies for beating him in “A Leg with Bobby” during Lakeside.

If I had known he was going to be so kind I might have let him win (I did say MIGHT!).

There is also a funny and perceptive review by Dartoid (Paul Siegel) on the internet at www.dartoidsworld.com. His review is titled “That’s the Way to Write It!’, and I was touched when he said that the poem on the last page made him cry, because it’s always had that effect on me.

My old dad was as tough as old boots, but he did what he had to do and it shaped my life. His poem, “My Son Bob”, might not be the sort of poetry that the purists and the luvees pretend to like, but the words of Francis J. George (the old man), written over 30 years ago, are from the heart.

Despite all the nice things he said, Patrick Chaplin assumed that I “disliked” my dad. That is not true. Yes, he was hard and tough, but I never disliked him. I respected him and knew that he loved me through that one poem. That’s why it ends the book.

THAT’S THE WAY TO VERSE IT!’

PC – In his response, Bobby refers to my “Leg with Bobby”, a one-sided darts match, which took place on the Lakeside world stage on Tuesday 9th January 2007. The photo below shows Bobby, Ray Stubbs and me, posing just before ‘Bobby Dazzler’ took ‘Doctor Darts’ apart on the oche.

(Photo courtesy of Chippix)

 

 

 

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