Patrick Chaplin: Book & Product Reviews

Retro DVD Reviews

Premiership 2006 & Eric Bristow's First Embassy Victory 1980

Official Review Holstern Premiership League DartsTHE OFFICIAL REVIEW OF THE HOLSTEN PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS 2006 and ERIC BRISTOW’S FIRST EMBASSY VICTORY 1980 With so many ‘unofficial’ darts DVDs doing the rounds, it is a pleasure to see Retro Videos compiling a slick, professional and compelling record of the 2006 Holsten Premier League.

Naturally, the DVD, the Official Review of the Holsten Premier League Darts 2006, is very Phil Taylor-centric. It shows how ‘The Power’ saw off all other combatants over a period of ten weeks, including PDC ‘new boy’ Raymond Van Barneveld, to secure his second Premiere League title. In a special ‘bonus’ interview ‘The Power’ is shown to be very upfront and honest about his professional colleagues and wastes little time in recommending how some of them should either take the sport seriously or resign themselves to the fact that they will never win major honours.

This DVD is excellent value for money, with 170 minutes of quality darts in a programme including an hour-long review of the Stan James World Matchplay. For those not yet able to access satellite TV, this DVD shows darts fans what they’re missing and will send hundreds of them rushing down to their TV suppliers for the appropriate equipment. Such darts performances as produced in the Premier League are still good seen second-hand in a compilation, but there’s nothing like watching our sport ‘live’.

Eric Bristow's First Embassy Victory 1980Retro Videos continues its homage to darts by releasing Eric Bristow’s First Embassy Victory 1980, which has been culled from the archives of the BBC. Bristow ended the 1970s as World Master and a member of England’s World Cup winning team but soon made his mark in the new decade by winning the first of his five Embassy World Professional Darts Championship titles.

Strangely, ‘we join the action as it is finely poised at 3-3’. There is no reason given for this late start but it is assumed that that was where the BBC’s coverage began. However, this does not detract from the action too much. For those who might need reminding, Cliff Lazarenko had dispatched the 1979 champion, John Lowe in the first round and Eric made steady progress to the final beating Tony Clark, Jocky Wilson and Tony Brown. There he met Bobby George who had beaten Dave Whitcomb, former World champion Leighton Rees and ‘Big Cliff’ on his way to the Final.

According to Darts World at the time, Eric and Bobby came on to the stage ‘like Gladiators to battle to the death in an amphitheatre’. What we actually see in this 49-minute DVD is a battle of darts masters and a battle of egos. Cries of “Bristow!” and “Bobby George!” engulf the pauses in play as Eric edged his way to victory. But listen to the silence while they throw and look at the audience of suited and booted supporters. It is a joy to watch two of the best players of the 1980s in combat again after all these years and to listen to the, by today’s standards, extremely restrained commentary of Sid Waddell - “It’s like having a ringside seat at the Coliseum” - ably assisted by Dave Lanning.

As a Darts Historian, I sincerely hope that the sales of this DVD will encourage Retro Videos to delve even deeper into the BBC archives to produce a comprehensive series of Embassy World Championships and into the Sky archives too to bring out the best of the PDC World Championships from the past fifteen years. I’m personally looking forward to seeing again in full Leighton Rees’ inaugural clash with John Lowe in 1978 and John’s ‘revenge’ one year later.

What a double bill that would be!

My recommendation is to buy both DVD’s and – if you can – watch them one after the other and see for yourself how much darts, and the presentation and delivery of our sport, has changed over more than a quarter of a century.

I will leave you to assess whether or not the change has been for the better.

Both DVD’s can be purchased from major stores but the makers, Retro Videos, are currently offering substantial discounts for anyone buying these products on-line at http://www.retro-videos.co.uk.

The ‘PDC Premier League’ DVD, which retails elsewhere at around £20, is available from Retro Videos for only £10.00, whilst the Eric Bristow DVD is excellent value at £5 instead of the recommended retail price of £7.00.

© 2007 Patrick Chaplin

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