Thus the headline in the debate section of today’s Guardian. And I sigh heavily into my Lemsip as I wrestle with the Purfleet lurgi affecting my chest and nose. After thirty years trying to expound the niceties of a working class sport that boasts character and skill, I wonder why the media can’t wake up? We don’t need fripperies – Beckham hair, Pieterson kitsch or Henry va-va-voom to sell darts. The Barney/Taylor match was a classic sporting contest between a bloke who used to push letters and a bloke who used to work a lathe. Hughie Gallacher and Bill Wright were not SEXY. They were privileged to play football for a living. So were Trueman and Boycs in cricket. Sport does not need the glam that packages rock and movies.
Mind you the Independent got it spot on with a five-page special on the fun of darts today. It says my bright and busy commentaries ‘make the game sing’. Mind you, I work bloody hard: 55 hours of rabid rabbit in 11 days. I bet Martin Tyler could not do 30 footy matches in that time - and he works sotto voce!
DARTS NEEDS THE FANS
They save up all year then make the pilgrimage to the Circus Tavern. They work for hours on fancy dress and placards. They are over the moon to meet you and get an autograph. They are not fickle like a lot of soccer fans. They form the perfect Greek chorus to the clashes of the Titans.
Best placard was by some fans of Denis Ovens: ‘FAN-ASSISTED OVENS’. Best get-up: the Barney fans in Stone Age smocks who walked to and from Purfleet station in the cold mizzling rain. I can’t wait for the Premier Darts League to start to see what new ideas the fans have.
BOBBY GEORGE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
I’m half way through reading Bobby’s book and I’ll review it in my next column. But I have passed a piece about me and Bobby where he rewrites history. He claims he said ‘Jocky on the Oche’ and the ‘Limestone Cowboy’ on the Beeb while guesting with me and that I have pinched them. I don’t need you to make up lines for me Bobo, my old cock sparrer. THAT AIN’T THE WAY TO SIDNEY IT!!!
BARNEY AND PAL
The big story for me was the way Ray came over to the PDC when taunted by fans in Holland that he could not beat Taylor. The pair have massive respect for each other and genuine affection.
And I reckon the advice of a psych helped Barney no end. I know the value of professional help; my voice coach Stuart Theobald has taught me to project my voice even over a wild crowd at the Circus by careful breath control. I do this to relax my vocal chords – Barney uses controlled breathing rhythms to calm down during matches. That’s what got him 21 maximums as the Power tried to dance to a victory.
It is so tough at the top today every trick is needed. TAYLOR CONSULTS PSYCH… I see in the Sentinel – that is if they have them in down-to-earth Stoke.
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