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September 2008:

Here we go again – yet another BDO Inter County season gets under way and I bet everyone has got their darts out, pulled on their shirts (just a little tighter than before!) and is looking forward to playing better than they’ve ever done before!

For some (the lucky few!) that will be the case, but for others it will be business as usual as they discover that all that practice in the garage is no substitute for the real thing.

To me it is like the start of the football season – full of hope and excitement. I don’t play county any more (I’m not up to all the travelling) but I still have great memories of the times that I did.

The county system is at the very backbone of the BDO and it’s where all players serve their apprenticeships and learn their trade.

I wish all county players every success in the 2008/2009 season. I just wish I was young enough and fit enough to join them!


I’ve been reading lots of stuff on various internet forums having a go at the BDO for the prize money on offer in their open events – particularly the ones that have been shown on Setanta Sports.

Let’s face it, there is always room for improvement, but as much as we all want more money, I think that if players want more, then they have to be prepared to pay more.

The BDO has a great system of darts for all, but sometimes it is that very system that causes the problems. For tournaments to be within the grasp of grass roots players, it has always been thought that entry fees need to be kept low and affordable.

Unfortunately, with the financial troubles the country is in at the moment everyone has less money to spend on the things they enjoy. This has got to effect darts – especially pub, club and even county players.

However, going back to the counties, I have always said that if every county player paid, say £10 each year at the start of every season, there would be a huge pot available for prize money. Think what could be done if that was doubled or even trebled?

Trouble is, I remember the moans when the BDO asked for £1 per year!

In effect, the BDO counties ‘own’ the BDO and the players are shareholders who must be prepared to invest in order to see a return in prize funds.

Entry fees in the Men’s Singles for the Setanta series has been kept at just £10 per player. This month’s British Open has a 1st prize of £3,000 with the runner-up getting £1,000. If you tot up the other prize money the payout is over £6,000, which represents 600 entries.

The point I am making is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can only pay out what you take in. The question is, would those who are moaning be prepared to pay say £25 per entry for better prize money in return?

I know I would, but I also know lots of people out there who just couldn’t or wouldn’t be prepared to put their hands in their pockets (unfortunately they are usually the ones who are moaning in the first place!).

I am not having a go at anyone, but trying to point out that while the prize money in these BDO events probably does need to be improved, there has to be a willingness by players to pay higher entry fees.

Going back to the counties I would like to send my sincere congratulations to a bunch of youngsters from my home county - the Essex County Youth Team on winning the 2008 British Inter-County KO Cup at Kettering (see photo).

They came out on top of the twenty-eight county youth teams who entered. In the Semi-Finals they came up against Northamptonshire B who boasted three England Youth Internationals in their team of seven.

They won 4-3 with wins for Daniel Day, Alex Tinsley, Mike Neaves and Daniel Parker of my home town of Colchester, who secured victory in the Semi-Final and Final.

In the final the opponents were another strong team of youngsters, Glamorgan B, but Essex emerged triumphant 5-2 winners. Well done to all the players:

Daniel Day (Romford), James Jennings (Harlow), Mike Neaves and Alex Tinsley (Chelmsford), Daniel Parker and Peter Browning (Colchester) and Andrew Currivan (Walton-on-the-Naze).

While Daniel Parker was the hero of the day, young Andrew Currivan only lost one game all day long and recorded a marvellous 108 checkout in the final! That’s my boy!!

The last time Essex Youth were Inter-County KO Champions was 2004, but they have won the title more times than any other county. Huge praise must go to manager Clive Sharp for creating a fantastic team spirit.

I enjoy nothing more than seeing youngsters playing and enjoying their darts, and I have no doubt that among this team there are some real stars of the future.



I hope you all managed to catch me, Marie and George Hall on BBC’s ‘Celebrity Cash In The Attic’? (See photo).

Angela Rippon was brilliant and has become the latest convert to darts. It’s just a pity that our high-kick routine (a take off of what she did on the Morecambe & Wise Show so many years ago) didn’t get shown.

‘It’s up to you, Doll’ I said to the lovely Angela. ‘Is it to be a leg up or a leg over’? She didn’t even blush, but I swear I got a wink as she showed that she can still kick her leg as high as ever. As for me, I failed miserably!

Anyway, she went away with a new nickname: Angela ‘Bag of Nails’ Rippon, because her darts were all over the shop – in the wall, bouncing off the light and occasionally in the board. I told her that it was like watching someone throwing a bag of nails!

She loved all the banter and is one of those rare celebrities who really is as nice as she comes across on telly – just like me!

The only disappointment in the programme was when it came to the auctioning of all my ‘treasures’.

I reckon they should have gone to a specialist sports auction, but they chose an auction room with a crowd that looked like the Sid Waddell Fan Club – there was only a handful in the room and they all looked as miserable as Gordon Brown at a by-election!

My very first England Shirt went for a very disappointing £80, but a Leighton Rees shirt fetched £120 and was bought by a Welsh dealer so at least it went back home.

The only good thing is that we set an initial target of £401 (I told Angela that it had to be 301, 401 or 501, so we went for the one in the middle! The good news is that we ended up with £522!

That money was donated to my local Gateway Club (Woodbridge Mencap) to help with the things most of us take for granted – like food and refreshment when they go out on day trips.

The Gateway Club will be 40 years old next year and I was really touched that when I went to give them the cheque they presented Marie with some flowers as a ‘thank you’. It made the whole ‘Cash In The Attic’ experience even more worthwhile.

More inspiring has been some of the heart-warming reactions of viewers to the auction. A lovely lady named Florence Jones from London’s Edgware Road sent me a letter saying how disappointed she was that my shirt didn’t make much money – and she enclosed a cheque for £50 made out to the Gateway Club.

What a darling!

Myra from the Isle-of-Wight has promised to add to the pot when she next sees me, and Clive Stewart, Secretary of the Glemsford & District Darts League in Halstead, where I am doing a presentation next May, has said that they hope to raise some more money for the deserving folk at the Gateway Club.

Those who say charity begins at home have never been around darts people. Hearts of gold the lot of ‘em!


Had a great day at Brighton races with my pals from John Smith’s recently. There were hundreds of people there and I entertained the punters on the dartboard. It was a case of from the jockey to the oche!

Highlight of the day was when a very nice lady asked my MC Roly if I was his son! He didn’t bat an eyelid, but I couldn’t resist a smile when he replied: ‘I wish he was!’

Another forgettable night at The Legends came at Reading when I lost to John Lowe. He played out of his skin so it was a good thing I decided to wear a mask (see photo). It was my way of making sure the crowd couldn’t see who was throwing bad!


Had a laugh when I was being interviewed by Patrick Kinghorn on Setanta. He asked me why I was wearing the mask and I told him that if you played like a clown then you should dress like one! But he looked a little put out when I said on live TV: ‘Maybe you should get off and get changed!’

Only joking, Patrick. Honest!

Then the Floor Manager came up to me with a dart and asked if it was mine. It wasn’t, but it turned out to be Lowey’s. He always carries a spare in case a stem breaks, but I couldn’t resist saying that it was no wonder I lost when he had 4 darts!

He replied by saying that he just couldn’t get on with Phil Taylor’s darts! Whatever did he mean?


For all the players starting out on the new BDO Inter-County season….May The Darts Be With You (they certainly ain’t with me at the moment!).




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