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November 2007:

What a globe-trotter I am! Cyprus last month to celebrate Marie’s extra-special birthday – and how we enjoyed all the sand, sea and partying – and this month it’s sunny Bridlington for the ‘double your money’ Winmau World Masters.

Sixty Grand in prize money is on offer and, presuming I am not playing, me and Ray Stubbs will be presenting all the action live on BBC TV over the weekend of the 17th and 18th.

Not only is it the oldest ‘major’ in world darts, but the World Masters –along with the Lakeside World Pro – is a title that all players want to win (including yours truly!).

At the time of writing this column, I can tell you that you can watch live coverage of the Men’s World Masters from the last 16 right through to the final on BBC-1 on Saturday, November 17th from 1PM to 4PM, and on BBC-2 on Sunday, November 18th from 1.30PM to 5.15PM.

Check the transmission times in TV Times, because that’s over seven hours of live telly to give you a luvverly, jubberly weekend of Winmau World darts!


While on the subject of the TV Times, I hope you all saw that I was named as TV Times ‘Star Of The Day’ when ITV’s ‘Don’t Call Me Stupid’ was shown last month.

I had to laugh when the write-up said that me and Vanessa Feltz would be tested on Geoffrey Chaucer (me) and fishing (Vanessa) and viewers should look out for one of us having a hissy fit!

Well, if you watched it (and I hope you did!) you’ll know it wasn’t me!

Let’s just say that while I knew my stuff on saucy Chaucer, when it came to fish, Vanessa showed that she’d had her chips (and plenty of ‘em by the look of it!).

It was hard, but I enjoyed the challenge and put everything in to learning my subject. The result was that no one can ‘Call Me Stupid’ (though I know one or two always will).


Anyway,I hope you all enjoyed my performance (Marie certainly did, but that’s another story!).

Blimey, I was back on telly again in Sky’s Premier League All-Stars Extra from the David Beckham Centre in Greenwich.

They invited me on to talk about West Ham because they had seen me with the FA Cup at George Hall wearing the West Ham kit (see photo).

To be honest I’m not what you’d call a ‘real’ football fan. I don’t know the names of today’s players/managers, or anything like that.
But, I have always had a soft spot for West Ham, because London’s East End was my stamping ground from birth.

Anyway, just to prove what a small world if is, I found myself in the same studio as former West Ham player Tony Cottee, who was more than a little surprised when I told him that I had worked for his grandfather, Will Cottee, as a floor layer, and that it was his uncle, Roy Cottee (now 75 and retired) who had encouraged me to go all out for a darts career.

Mind you, he was even more shocked when I told him that the last time I saw him he was sitting on my knee holding a rattle!

It gave me the chance to tell him that he and his family are in my book ‘Bobby Dazzler’ (out in paperback this December). In Chapter 7, I recall my time working as a floor layer with the Cottee family from London’s East Ham.

I was just 32 and, though I enjoyed my work, darts was becoming more and more important, and I was offered the opportunity of going to America with what was to be known as the ‘Durro’ team. Eric Bristow was a team-mate with Colin Baker, and we were to be joined by the two top female players of that era, Linda Batten and Pat Piper.

I desperately wanted to go and had saved hard. It really was the chance of a lifetime for me, but I didn’t want to let Roy and his family down. Luckily for me I had a gaffer who was understanding enough to give me a month off to try my hand at making it in darts.

I will always remember his words: ‘Have a crack, Bob’, he said. ‘You’ll always be able to lay floors, but you might not have the opportunity to make it as a darts player again’.

As I say in my book: Roy was a ‘diamond’ as were all the Cottee family.

Tony Brown, John Lowe, Dennis Ovens, Leighton Rees and Tony Sontag also made that trip to the States, along with the BDO’s Olly Croft. They were wonderful times for all of us, and the highlight for me was winning my first ‘big one’ the North American Open played on the Queen Mary.

What a setting! And the format was similar to the News of the World – best of 3 legs – the only difference was that the North American Open was 301 double in, double out, and nearest the bull every single leg. That’s not mickey mouse darts. That’s ‘proper darts’ with no room for any mistakes.

I was chatting to Eric Bristow recently and he reckoned it was the hardest tournament to win. Mind you, he made me laugh when he said: ‘You won the Butlin’s Grand Masters as well, Bob. That was another one that was hard to win.’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but you won the Embassy five times’.

‘Oh, that was easy!’ he said. Big E never changes!

Anyway, back to the North American Open. There was an entry of 512 players that year, and I went right through the field to play Tony Sontag in the Semi-Final. It was made harder because he was a good mate, but I beat him and ended up playing an American called Pete Polinski in the final.

Eric had lost earlier and offered to chalk the game, and I can tell you that when I threw the winning dart, he leapt up in the air like he had won the title himself (there’s a lovely photo of it in my book)!

Happy days!!

And guess what? That win earned me a place in the Winmau World Masters at Wembley, so I have always thanked Roy Cottee and his family for putting me on the road to a darts career that I have never stopped enjoying (well almost never!) since that trip to America way back in the 1970’s.


Another Diamond Geezer is ex-Arsenal and England star Ian Wright, who I met in the Green Room (posh name for hospitality) after doing the Premier League All-Stars extra live.

He made a great fuss of me and came over and said: ‘It’s great to meet you, Bobby. I love the darts and watch it ‘cos of you!’

Ian is a lovely, bubbly, genuine bloke and I couldn’t help thinking as I sat with him and Tony Cottee how 30 years earlier it was Roy Cottee who was responsible for getting me into darts, and ultimately bringing darts and football together.

As I said earlier: What a small world it truly is!


It was a case of ‘Gone With The Wind’ when Little Richard Ashdown recently did an exhibition with Big Robbo, Gary Robson. You’ve heard of Little & Large? Well this was Little & Big!

Unfortunately, Gary passed wind during one throw. His score was 140, but having detected the sudden whiff, Richard couldn’t resist calling ‘One hundred and farty!’ Everyone got the giggles, but the poor old chalker was still trying to escape the offending smell when Robbo threw again and Richard called ‘Farty-five’.

Laugh? Most of the crowd was doubled-up, but that’s the humour of darts.


I was interviewed in my local paper recently about getting old and someone stopped me in the street and mentioned it. ‘How do you really feel about getting old?’ he asked. When I told him I didn’t have time to get old he thought it was a lovely way of putting it. Marie has other ways, but I won’t go into them here!


Finally, I had a great night a few weeks ago at ‘The Horseshoe Inn’, London Bridge, where I hosted a fun tournament which raised £1,000 for ‘Vicky’s Water Project’.

This wonderful charity to develop a project in Ethiopia to provide clean water for over 20,000 people, is in memory of a lovely lady named Vicky Buchanan who, just over a year ago, was killed in a tragic accident while cycling to work.

It was a great night in the company of some great and caring people. The tournament was called the Vicky’s Water Project Darts Masters, and I must mention Chris ‘Too Tall’ Taylor (whose nickname says it all!). He deservedly came out on top and walked away with a set of my darts and a whole case of wine.

Blimey! I thought. Yet another tournament won by a Taylor!! And then I thought I must be seeing double when I ended up playing Owen ‘Tungsten Tosser’ Taylor. He was another player who certainly lived up to his nickname!

Special thanks must go to the enthusiastic event organiser, Chris Mounsey-Thear, who is also the geezer behind the NHS Blood Pressure Campaign. That’s when I first met him and he’s a real bundle of energy! He helped make the night a huge success and, like all those involved in fund-raising he deserves a huge pat on the back.

The charity was formed by Vicky’s fiancé, family and friends and going back to what a small world we live in, 190 of them – including the 32 who played in the VWP Darts Masters – found themselves in the company of Ray Stubbs and the BBC, when they were among the 50,000 competitors in this year’s Great North Run.

If you would like to know more about the project and find out how you might be able to help, go on the website: To date over £400,000 has been raised.


And on that happy note all that remains is for me to say: Be Lucky and May The Darts Be With You.




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