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December 2008:

Would you believe it? This is my last column of the year and it seems like it was only yesterday that I was saying it will soon be Xmas again – and it is!

How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!!

I know I probably said the same thing last year, in fact I know I did, but Xmas doesn’t make much difference at George Hall, because every day of the year is Xmas here! At least Marie and the kids think it is as they eat, drink and continue to be merry, while I work my NUTS off to pay for it!

Only joking!

December really is a memorable – and ridiculously expensive - month for the George family with three birthdays in the space of a week!

It’s spoilt the gag this year, because I was going to say that I celebrate my 21st on the 16th, but I can’t because Robert really is 21 on the 12th – lucky so and so. Mind you, it doesn’t change anything because he’s had the key to the door for as long as I can remember – and these days it’s me who has to knock to get in!

Happy birthday Robert!

I will be an ever youthful but stiffer (in terms of aches and pains and not the other!) 63 on the 16th and young Richie celebrates his 19th on the 18th.

That means the George’s will be partying at George Hall from the 12th to New Year at the very earliest!


We will then move on to Lakeside 2009 and another nine days of great darts, but more of that next month.

For now I want to look back a few weeks to a lovely hour of nostalgic TV called ‘Eric Bristow’s Golden Darts’.

I was more than happy to contribute to this programme, because anyone of a certain age will have enjoyed every minute of looking back at the great days of televised darts.

I hear people raving about standards and average today, but the likes of Eric, Jocky, Lowbo and myself, were not too bad either – as this programme proved.

Just look at what Anderson – Bob not Gary – did in the World Masters. He won three on the spin from 1986 to 1988, and the programme showed him taking out five consecutive legs of darts with 100+ checkouts!

It moved Cliff Lazarenko to say: ‘I don’t think Taylor has ever done that’

Then there was Lowbo’s marvellous 9-darter in the MFI World Matchplay when he checked 141 with t17, t18, d18 to fill his boots with £102,000! I think that’s when he got that startled wide-eyed look that has been with him ever since.

Some said he never even bought a round of drinks. How cruel can you be? He’s not mean, just careful. That cheque’s probably still intact! The state MFI are in today, he could probably buy the company!


Staying with Eric’s programme, I was over-the-moon that the programme makers decided to include the ‘News Of The World Championships’. They were the first real ‘world championships’ going right back to the 1930s, and the first competitive darts on television.

The crowds were incredible. There were thousands upon thousands in Wembley Pool Stadium when I played my 1979 final against Alan Glazier and I couldn’t believe how young we looked.

How did some of the audience see the darts? There were no big screens in those days – just binoculars and telescopes!

Eric introduced it by saying that I might be known as Bobby Bling today, but almost 30 years ago, I was a hard working Londoner (I dug tunnels and laid floors for a living) who he nicknamed Bobby Bland!

What a cheek! But he was right. I played that final looking like a canary in a yellow top, and I don’t think there was a bit of gold anywhere.

But what a marathon that tournament was! Months of competitive darts without any seeds. No pop stars. You played who you got, throwing from 8 feet in just 3 Legs of darts! (those three inches made all the difference – ask Marie!).

In the 1979 Championships I played loads of legs (so many that I lost count) on a wooden board with trebles half the size they are today, and never had more than 15 darts a leg! Even I find it hard to believe, but it’s a matter of history and I’m very proud of it.

I am also proud of the fact that I became the first player to hit a 180 in a News Of the World final up to that year. We played on a wooden board soaked in water (you could actually see the water seeping out as the darts went in). Alan, who was a great player, started the second leg with a 140 and I must have thought ‘I’m not having that’ so I hit 180, 140 and then checked out on 15 darts to win the title.

Happy, happy days!


I have to say that I enjoyed the European Darts on ITV-4 for a particular reason: It suddenly occurred to me while I was watching that there was no politics in the commentary or interviews.

The BDO was duly acknowledged when necessary and no one dished out any unfair or unjust criticism. The darts were also good, but then everyone who knows anything about darts will freely acknowledge that there is only the odd darts (or double) between the boys at the top of their game.

The darts were allowed to do the talking (just as they do on BBC) and for that reason alone, it was a breath of fresh air and all the more enjoyable as a result.

It’s just a pity that they didn’t have a proper spotter. Some times the camera was all over the place, but that had nothing to do with the shaky hands of the cameraman! It was down to dodgy spotting and I have to say it spoilt the enjoyment of the darts at times. Lots of people have mentioned it, so it’s not just me.

Probably the most important person in a TV darts production team is the spotter.

Back to the good, young Adrian Lewis was outstanding – especially in his Quarter-Final demolition of Raymond Barneveld. What a game that was!
He hit everything and Raymond was shell-shocked. And who wouldn’t be?

He started off like a train and hit an unbelievable 127 outshot with Barney sitting on 24. Barney didn’t do much wrong, but the 23 year-old was unstoppable. Great darts from a great youngster and lovely to watch.


Staying on the subject of dartboards, I could never have dreamed 30 odd years ago that I would be making my own boards – but that’s just what I’m doing.

They are not made of wood, but they are traditional, with round wires and staples, and they are Made In England, which is a claim that few (if any) of today’s dartboard manufacturers can make.

And guess what? I’ve just made a pink one for breast cancer awareness. (see photo).

Instead of the traditional colours, the doubles, trebles and bullseye are in a shocking pink to signify that they are for the cause that has led to golfers, footballers and jockeys, among others, to wear pink in order to support research into breast cancer.

The idea came from Sharon (Shaz) and Terry Sweeney, who run a specialist darts stall in Clacton Covered Market called D B Dartst. They took it over last year when the founder of the stall, Dave Barnes, sadly lost his battle against

Typically Sharon and Terry (son of the late, great Jim Sweeney – who could be seen in the ‘Noddy Box’ in Eric’s ‘Golden Darts’) have tried to give something back to the darting community - especially when it comes to supporting the ladies, because Shaz has real weakness for pink!

She noticed that ladies teams often moaned about the men using their team matchboards for practising, so it gave her the original idea for pink and purple dartboards!

She mentioned this to Marie (Girl Power!) who then persuaded me and Harry Kicks to make them. We didn’t stand a chance of saying no! So we made 50 and I personally signed every one.

But the idea took on a life of its own when the Clacton stallholders decided to support Breast Cancer Awareness by raising funds for both Breast
Cancer Care and the Breast Cancer Campaign.

Sharon and Terry sponsored an open Mixed Triple Darts Tournament using the pink dartboard in the final, which was won by ‘The Balders plus One’ (Matt and Rosie Baldwin, John Palmer) who beat ‘The
Gay Team’ (Sheila Busby, Tony Viner, Peter Derek).

Both teams received trophies presented by Viv Dundon, and the winning team became proud owners of the limited edition board.

Just to show how generous darts people are in these tight times, Sharon and Terry raised £700.
Bottom of Form

They are hugely popular among the ladies as well as the men. Let’s face it, with the bullseye looking like a nipple, it is more fun checking out on the nipple rather than the bull!


John Smith’s People’s Darts has been a great success and everyone will have a chance to see the top pub players at Lakeside during the BBC’s coverage next month.

The photo shows me with Gordon Rodger, the winner from The Albion pub in Hackney, where we had a great night in the company of lolts of lovely darts players, as well as Olly Croft and Bob Potter, who are supporting this luvverly, jubberly initiative that is taking darts back into pubs.


HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all my readers. May you get everything you asked Santa for – and more.

Ho, Ho, Ho!




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