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October 2008:

Three Cheers to John Smith’s and make mine a pint (or three)!

The reason? The Scottish & Newcastle brand leader who have supported Lakeside (and yours truly!) for many years, are returning darts to where it belongs – the pubs and clubs that I have always described as the ‘womb’ of our sport.

Pubs are the mothers of darts, because that’s where ‘ordinary’ players get their first experience of playing the game and socialising with other players.

Sadly in recent years, darts in pubs has had to make way for piped music, chicken in the basket and gaming machines. All open plan and no atmosphere.

But John Smith’s are now sending out branded Winmau dartboards and darts to an incredible 5,000 outlets all over the country.

That’s nothing short of sensational for our sport, because it is encouraging grass roots players to start playing on a regular basis individually and in teams.

It’s all part of a marvellous initiative called John Smith’s People’s Darts and, for some reason, they have chosen my ugly mug to promote nationwide pub darts competitions to find a People’s Champion who will get his or her crown at Lakeside next January.

This will be proper ‘No Nonsense’ darts and reminds me of how I got started all those years ago – especially in the News-of-the-World Championships: Playing in packed pubs, best of 3 legs! Never mind the pub being the mother of darts, that’s when you need your mummy!


These pub and club competitions are not open to any pop-stars. They are for the ‘ordinary’ pub players – men and women – aged 18 or over, and county standard players and pro players will not be eligible to compete.

The reason is obvious. Just like the hugely successful John Smith’s People’s Race at the Grand National, People’s Darts is for the punters who play their darts at pub and club level – and the £15,000 winners cheque will go to a nominated charity.

That’s great news, and so is the fact that the eventual People’s Darts Champion will win £1,000 worth of darts equipment for his or her local boozer, plus a week for two at the BDO Torremolinos Open next March and entry into two BDO Opens in 2009

I am more than chuffed that the whole project is being backed by the Daily Mirror and supported by the BDO. The Mirror have been down to George Hall to spend the day with me, and I’ve even made a video that will be seen on the Mirror website in the run-up to Lakeside.


For those who can remember the famous wartime ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster of Lord Kitchener, my poster is saying ‘Your Pub Needs You’!

I’ll be heading up a team of players who know all about the thrill of winning at Lakeside – current World Pro Champion Mark Webster, 2007 World Champion Martin Adams and 2000 and 2001 Champions Ted Hankey and John Boy Walton.

As well as being at the regional finals, we will also be ‘mentoring’ some of the players as they start out on their magical trip to Lakeside next January.

In total there will be 8 regional champions representing Scotland, North-East England, North-West England, North Wales, Central England, South Wales, Yorkshire and the South of England.

The Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Final will all be played at Lakeside during World Pro week, with the actual John Smith’s People’s Darts final being played on the most famous stage in world darts just before the 2009 Lakeside World Pro final.

It is a real once in a lifetime opportunity for a pub/club player to experience the unique atmosphere of Lakeside and win all those lovely prizes in front of a packed audience and TV cameras.

All 8 of the regional finalists will be asked to nominate a registered charity and, in addition to the £15,000 which will be paid to the winners charity, the runner-up will receive £2,500 and the other 6 finalists will win £1,000 each for their nominated charities.

When two of them walk on that stage to play in the first ever John Smith’s People’s Darts final, they will go from the ordinary to the extraordinary!



Blimey, what a surprise that the WDF Europe Cup was won by the host nation Denmark and a player from Poland won the Denmark Open!

It’s a ‘first’ for both nations and just shows the ongoing growth of darts. My congratulations to the Danes (I love your bacon!) on their exciting last leg victory, and to Polish sensation Krysztof Ratajski (who will next be seen at the Winmau World Masters) for earning his bacon by becoming 2008 Denmark Open Champion.

Mind you, it’s a bit worrying that after taking over the plumbing industry, the Poles are now emerging as a useful darts nation!

Good luck to them and darts players everywhere.


What a treat to be able to watch the Europe Cup on the BDO and WDF websites. England Men got the Silver Medal in Copenhagen in the closest ever tournament - with only 9 points separating the top four and Scotland only one point adrift of England in third spot.

Congratulations to Martin Adams and John Boy Walton on taking the Men’s Pairs title. It’s the third time Martin’s done it – with a different partner each time!

In yet another ‘first’ it was left to the ladies of my adopted county of Scotland to lift the Europe Cup title for the very first time.

Well done to Suzanna Young and Louise Hepburn on doing it for Scotland (Louise also won the Women’s Singles). Can’t leave Wales out! Julie Gore and Jan Robbins won the Women’s Pairs and Julie was also crowned Denmark Open Women’s Champ - and Lakeside World Champion Mark Webster, who retained the Europe Cup Men’s Singles title for the second successive year.

He now joins an elite club of just three players to have done this since 1978 – the other two being John Lowe and Phil Taylor.



The final night of the League of Legends at the Circus Tavern was one of the best ‘fun’ nights I’ve had in darts for a long, long time.

Laugh? I thought I’d never stop!

The Tavern was packed to the roof and all the players – and the truly amazing crowd – had the time of their lives. It reminded me of the great days of darts in the 70s and 80s, but somehow as you get older nights like this get better and better!

Although it has been a long summer playing in the Legends, it has been a privilege to be back on the oche with Eric, Lowbo, Dave and the rest of the team.

Suddenly, The Legends are back in business (much to the frustration of one or two!) and we will be on Setanta again next summer – as well as in a whole string of Legends Nights all over the country.

There are one or two people out there (they know who they are) who thought they knew it all, but The Legends have shown them what the public want!

Blimey! At my age I should be thinking of retiring, but I have never been busier in my whole life. It’s tiring, but there’s plenty of fun and lovely bees and honey!!


We all know there’s a ‘credit crunch’ at the minute, but on a recent trip to London to do some filming for ITV (which I will tell you more about in a future column) I was in Liverpool Street railway station when I needed to go to the toilet.

Would you Adam and Eve it, I had to ask an old lady for change because it now costs a shocking 30p to have a pee!

‘I only want one pee, but it’s going to cost 30p, darling’ I said as she changed my 50p (it’s all p’s!).

Mind you, it wasn’t a case of ‘to pee, or not to pee’ it was a case of taking the pee for 30 pee!






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