The thing about Bobby George’s first book, Bobby Dazzler, My Story, is that you don’t need to read a review to decide whether or not you want to plunk down money to buy the book. Just as you know you gotta watch when George bounds on stage decked out like Elvis, dripping in jewelry, and carrying a candelabra, the sizzling Dazzler cover more sells the steak that follows.
There’s George, smiling, hand on chin...
Or is he smiling?
A Rolex and several gold bracelets weigh down his wrist. £5,000 in chunky gold rings adorn his fingers. A necklace made of 46 gold wedding rings dangles from his neck. At home – an eighteen bedroom mansion with a bar and a dining room that seats twenty – his Rolls-Royce glimmers against the green rolling hills and spring-fed lakes in the quiet Ardleigh countryside.
No, George ain’t smiling.
He’s smirking. Yes, I think he is.
And why not?
Steve Rushin once wrote in Sports Illustrated that “…a dart is not merely rocket-shaped; it can be a rocket and generate escape velocity to break away from the gravitational pull of poverty." Rushin was no friend of the sport but he was certainly right about its life changing potential. Nobody represents that better than Bobby George. And George knows it.
Love him or hate him (there aren’t a whole lot of people in the middle), you owe it to yourself to click to his website (http://bobbygeorge.com) and order a book from his wife and manager, Marie. She’s the hot brunette on the front page of the website. She’s the even hotter brunette pictured just above the once popular Page 3 Girl, Maria Whittaker, among the photos in the center of the book.
THAT’S THE WAY TO PHOTOGRAPH IT!
Co-authored with journalist Lance Hardy, Dazzler is published by the Orion Publishing Group and offered at £18.99. Included is the most touching Foreword I have ever read – by George’s best mate, John Lowe.
THAT’S THE WAY TO BULLSHIT IT!
Seriously, this book is a must read, whatever your station in the sport.
One has to appreciate what George, born into relative poverty, has accomplished, against the odds. This is the boy who left school at the age of fourteen with a debilitating stutter, barely able to read and write – and certainly unable to calculate a simple out shot. This is the teenager and young man who rambled through a series of jobs – working in a nursery, building maintenance, painting houses, cleaning windows, laying floors and more – before picking up his first dart at the age of thirty and finding that he was a natural. This is the man who during his darting career battled on despite a broken back and a ruptured spleen and who today – with a replaced knee and without an amputated toe – still has his sights fixed on lifting the trophy that has eluded him at Lakeside.
And what a career it has been. Despite an unconventional stroke and even odder approach to finishing, among other darting claims-to-fame, George won the North American Open in 1978, the News of the World TWICE, in 1979 and 1986 (on the former occasion without dropping a single leg during the ten-month tournament from pub to the Grand Final), back-to-back Butlin’s Grand Masters (1979 and 1980), the European Singles Championship (1982), represented England TWENTY-FIVE times and, perhaps most notably of all, battled it out with Eric Bristow in front of a crowd dressed in suits in the final of the 1980 Embassy in what was arguably the match, the moment, that changed the sport of darts forever.
THAT’S THE WAY TO STROKE IT!
Along the way George is credited, or credits himself, with designing the Champion’s Choice dartboard, nicknaming Lowe and Bob Anderson, knocking out one of his school teachers in a boxing match, defeating the Canadian arm-wrestling champion, seeing his wife (the first spouse ever) seated at Lakeside among the spectators, being the first to use walk-on music, the first to raise upwards of a million pounds for charity, the first officially elected “Most Super Tremendously Good Looking Bloke in England,” and the ONLY darter ever to parachute out of an airplane and float onto stage for a televised final wearing nothing but a fluffy terrycloth nappy.
THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!
Particularly interesting (and a take you will find nowhere else in the “burgeoning” library of books on darts) is George’s perspective on the tumultuous BDO/WDC (now PDC) spilt in 1992. George of course, did not make the switch and that sadly led some of those who did to end friendships with him.
He talks of his loyalty to the BDO’s Olly Croft and, describing himself as more of a BDO “sympathizer” than a “supporter,” expresses genuine disinterest in the politics of the sport and, simply, a far greater love for entertainment and showmanship (which was how he was making his living at the time anyway) than for collecting tournament victories.
George’s recollections and motivations are fascinating to read. He tells is like it is, to him, and that’s all you can ask of anybody. Despite his personal decision not to switch sides, he admits (although many would say not nearly strongly enough) that the BDO may have reacted “perhaps, a little harshly” by banning players who so much as attended a WDC function. He includes (in a context probably never used before) the name of Robert Holmes and the word “mastermind” in the same sentence.
But Holmes is George’s friend, just as is Croft. You can’t fault a man for loyalty.
THAT’S THE WAY TO EXPLAIN IT!
In a phrase (to quote the Orion Publishing Group’s press release), Bobby Dazzler, My Story is a “vividly entertaining…rags to bling tale… from the world of Essex pubs in the 1970s to behind the scenes with the BBC at Frimley Green, from films and videos to Celebrity Fit Club… of one of (England’s) best loved and most charismatic showmen.”
Yes, agree or disagree, like or dislike the man, one can’t dispute that the sport of darts changed Bobby George’s life and Bobby George changed the sport of darts. Today he leads the good life and it’s a life he earned himself. He’s traveled the world, married the pretty girl, sang with Diana Ross, and even chowed down square hamburgers – with square onions and square tomatoes – in California (something I haven’t done and I live in the damn country). Except for the Embassy and an odd tournament here and there he hasn’t competed seriously in twenty years.
But the darts are still in his blood (he’s set a goal of making it to Lakeside yet again in his sixties) and his blood is most certainly something that will forever mark the game.
“Darts is about razzmatazz today,” he says, “and that all began with me.”
No one can argue with that.
How does the book end? With a small dose of reality and a poem that will bring a tear to many eyes.
“The way I see it,” George writes, “it doesn’t matter if you are world champion or world number one, if your telephone doesn’t ring, no one wants to book you… Trophies alone don’t earn darts players a living. They never have. I have always tried to put entertainment and laughter into darts and when I do finally pack this game in, the one thing I hope people will remember me for is my smile.”
THAT’S THE WAY TO WRITE IT!
And it’s just that simple. Whatever you know or think you know or don’t know about Bobby George, the man is a darts player’s darts player. He just plain loves the game.
Oh, and the poem? I’ll say no more, except, it will make you cry. That’s a fact.
And, well, okay, it’s not by John Lowe.
From the Field,
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