Wednesday, January 07, 2004


If you'll excuse the rather inappropriate figure of speech, lately my laziness seems to have scaled new heights. Last time I was searching for an explanation for my lethargy, I put it down to listening to too much smack rock. This time the blame falls squarely on the darts.

Darts players all seem to be corpulent men with dubious moustaches and laden with so much gold that they look like they've just raided One Eyed Willy's pirate ship (oh come on now, it's a 'Goonies' reference - if you've not seen the film, you should feel very very ashamed). Mr T has nothing on these guys. For me, the wonder is not so much that these "characters" can consider themselves to be athletes - after all, if you spent all day sat on your arse in the pub with a pie in one hand and a pint in the other (as they must certainly do - that's the only way to maintain that distinctive physique, although sitting watching the darts on TV and munching on pork scratchings like I've been doing probably goes some way towards it), you'd consider standing sweating under some hot lights and throwing some miniature arrows at a board to be as tough as running a marathon. No, the real wonder is that they have wives and girlfriends. Seriously, does anyone out there find someone like John 'Boy' Walton attractive? Would anyone like 'three in a bed' with Co Stompe and Jarko Komula? Even 18-year-old Scouse whizzkid Stephen Bunting is not a model of youthful good looks but the sort of pudgy kid who probably routinely gorges himself on second helpings of school dinners.

They all look at least faintly ridiculous. And no-one looks more ridiculous than Andy 'The Viking' Fordham. The long-haired King Kong of the darts world, Andy's enormous forearms are like something out of 'Popeye' and suggest that he spends an awful lot of his time, er, playing darts. I have visions of him attending a meeting organised by Cavemen Reunited, clad in a loin cloth and with club in hand, and chatting away about the time he ate a whole boar in one sitting to the equally hirsute Martin 'Wolfie' Adams - a man who's adopted a wolf, for fuck's sake.

Still, even if they do all look ridiculous, fucking hell can they play darts. So far the championship, and its colourful cast of characters, has served up some fantastic entertainment. I've been getting sucked in deeper and deeper, taking an increasing interest in statistics and strategies, and picking up some of the terminology - even to the extent of using phrases outside of their normal context (see: "Bent the wire!" - an exclamation which roughly translates as "Close, but no cigar"). Come Sunday's final I'll be fully conversant in dartspeak.

Right, I'm off down the pub to put some practice in. Drinking, that is. I might even throw a few darts. If you happen to be around when I start playing, a word of advice: duck.

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