Yesterday I made my darts audience debut at the BDO World Darts Championship at the Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green. It was SUCH A THRILLING AND AMAZING EXPERIENCE (really), I have decided to follow the lead of my Warhorses of Letters co-writer Robert Hudson and turn it into an Inspiring Photo Essay. (For an example of Robbie’s Inspiring Photo Essays, try this one on coleslaw.)
Upon arrival at the unprepossessing Lakeside Country Club (poster advertising forthcoming Jim Davidson appearance taped up outside), nothing could have prepared me for the crowds and atmosphere in the main hall. I was expecting a few people milling around, chatting and waiting for the darts to begin. Instead, I got New Year’s Eve, 1999, in gigantic rural pub where everybody knows each other:
To our growing astonishment, our table was in the very front, where the darts players arrive, and where we had this almost amazing view:
Can you guess why it was almost amazing? Never mind: Darts is really one of the only sports where you have to watch in on the big screen even when you are in the room, because of the minute differences between getting the dart somewhere really great and getting the dart somewhere totally shit. When a dart hits the board, it makes an amazing amplified THUNK sound, strangely reminiscent of the opening note of Duffy’s number one hit single, ‘Mercy’. Here’s the big screen:
If you look closely, you will see that Stephen “Bullet” Bunting, the number 1 seed, has just scored 180, the maximum score with three darts. When that happens, everyone goes mental and jumps around cheering and holding up signs that say 180, thus:
I didn’t take that picture. I did try to get some good pictures of everyone going mental and holding their signs up but I was too busy going mental and holding my sign up, and kept dropping my camera.
Inspired by the amazing darts atmosphere, we did a series of darts-themed craft projects:
The Big Bad Wolf in question is BDO veteran Martin “Wolfie” Adams, three times BDO world champion and crowd favourite. (He remained loyal to the BDO when the infamous split came with the PDC, but that’s a story for true darts aficionados which perhaps you are not just yet.) Alas, it’s not been a good year for Wolfie. Very sadly, the wolf he sponsored died:
The grief may explain why he was knocked out in the first round, after a nail-bitingly close match, by 18-year-old Dutch newcomer Jimmy Hendriks. (All the darts players have special entry music when they take to the stage. Martin “Wolfie” Adams has ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ by Duran Duran. Scott “Scotty Dog” Mitchell has ‘Who Let The Dogs Out.’ Jimmy Hendriks, as you might expect, has ‘Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)’ by The Outhere Brothers. What would yours be?)
When the players come in and the music plays, everyone goes mental. Well, not everyone. Here’s the guy whose job it is to hold the camera cable:
At the other end of the camera cable is this guy:
And at the other end of the camera was me! Yes, it turns out that if you go to the darts tournament, and are female, and sitting in the front, you are going to feature as what my brother and I call Tottycam (ie when they always cut away to a woman in the crowd.) I spent about half the day with a camera about a foot away from my face, and there were confirmed sightings on the BBC. I am hoping I have been filmed in rapt attention, instead of, say, dancing like a crazy person to Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle) in front of an 18-year-old dutch darts player. If that was something I did. I will not confirm or deny.
If you don’t know a lot about darts and darts players, the programme is a very useful thing. This is where you find out useful information, such as that James “Jamie” “Jammie Dodger” Wilson once won Bullseye, or that Steve Douglas had a heart attack only three weeks ago, but won his first round match with ease. Here is my favourite biography of a darts player:
Here is my favourite picture of a darts player, with useful information:
Some of the players are even women! Although we are not sure, because they were possibly characters in a French and Saunders sketch.
Other things we are not sure about: Irina Armstrong’s top. Fact from the programme: Irina Armstrong was the runner-up in the CenterParcs Masters. Her entry music is ‘Sex On Fire’ by Kings of Leon.
Aside from the darts, there are other super attractions. Beer!
(Food pictured with darts catalogue, featuring entirely relevant-to-darts catalogue model.)
People in fancy dress!
And of course, for the players, the chance to win the prestigious BDO world championship, lifting them to untold levels of prestige:
Much fun was had by all:
Thank you, Team Darts: