|Is it a young mans sport? why do I ask? I ask the question that many people are asking me and I prefer to reverse it back onto you the general playing and spectating participants of the sport. |
Only a few years ago such a question would not have arisen, the average age of top class TV players was in the late 30's, i made a comment only a few months ago regarding the World Series of darts in america, the average age of the contestants was over 40.
So why all of a sudden is the question being asked, I am sure it is down to the success of Jelle klaasen who at 20 years of age won the 2005 BDO World Championship at Lakeside, then along came the new Dutch Wonder Kid: Michael Van Gerwen who rewrote the record books by becoming the youngest World Master winner at the age of 17, those two fine young players have now been joined by the youngest ever qualifier of the PDC World Champioship, Australian: Mitchell Clegg, who is just 16.
When we hear ages like this we could be forgiven we are not talking about tennis were the players begin at very young ages and even win major events like Wimbledon while in their teens.
No, this is our sport of darts and it is entering a stage of dramatic change, out with the old year in with the new, I for one welcome it with open arms, any sport can only measure its progress by the age of its competitors, darts at last has its share of youngsters making the grade.
This Saturday, the 2nd of December I will be taking my place in the PDC World Championship qualifiers at the Aston Villa F.C. I will be twice if not three times older than many of the competitors, yes, I am at the opposite end of the age scale to Mr Gerwen and Mitchell, my enthusiasm to succeed will be no different to theirs, just like them I do not compete to make the numbers up, and I am not there to ruffle feathers, I am there, ready, prepared to make my bid to claim a place on the Circus Tavern Stage once more.
I guess that answers yours and my question, is darts a young mans sport? NO, its for everyone who feels capable and confident af fulfilling and realising their dreams, be it local league champion or World Champion, the sport is big enough for everyone.
I admire the young players with their brash and almost arrogant attitude, it is a sign of their confidence, when I watched Michael take out Mervin King on my TV with such a defiant manor, a manor that jumped out of the screen into my lounge, that said "you are just not good enough to beat me" very reminiscent of Bristow at his best, I felt I was part of the game, it was exciting, good to watch and without doubt a fantastic advertisement for the sport, I envisaged many numbers of youngsters waiting for the local darts suppliers opening on Monday morning so they could pick up their first set of tungsten's, youth is a wonderful thing.
So bear a thought for Bristow and Lowe on Saturday morning, two older guys of the sport with a combined total of 70 years playing the game they love, were will they be at 9-30am? in a local social club not far from Aston Villa FC, practising on the same dart board, both aiming for the same result, a place at Purfleet, one more chance to grace the world stage, when registration begins at 11am they will be ready, prepared to give it their best, yes, the youth may be on the march but the older guys are not ready just yet to give them an easy ride.
My best wishes to: Mitchell Clegg in his bid to win the Ladbroke World Championship, and to Jelle Klaasen in his defence of the Lakeside Championship, and to the darting sensation of 2005: Michael Van Gerwen, just go out and do what you do best.
O, and to Mr Bristow, don't be late for practise Saturday morning.