the Field, Dartoid
THAT'S THE WAY TO WRITE IT,
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
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
No, George ain't smiling.
He's smirking. Yes, I think
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
the Field, Dartoid
Darts Historian Patrick Chaplin reviews
Bobby George’s biography
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
reply to my review of ‘Bobby Dazzler’
that appeared in the February 2007 issue of Darts
World magazine, Bobby wrote in the March issue:
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”
I had known he was going to be so kind I might have
let him win (I did say MIGHT!).
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.
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.
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.
THE WAY TO VERSE IT!’
– 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.
courtesy of Chippix)