Patrick Chaplin: Darts History

From The Public House to The Palace

Dean Koch

In July 2008 Dean Koch (pictured), 24, from South Oxhey, Watford, Hertfordshire graduated from the Chelsea School, University of Brighton with a 2:1 in Sports Journalism (BA (Hons)).

As part of his course Dean had to carry out a critical investigation on an aspect of sports culture. He chose darts. His reason? Dean felt that darts has a sporting culture ‘like no other’, given its working-class roots, which he felt the sport still retains today, and its links with the English pub and alcohol.

Dean believed that darts is an original subject worth investigating and sincerely believes that there is still not enough written on darts, even though media coverage has improved in recent years. The article that follows is the result of his labours and helped earn his degree.

FROM THE PUBLIC HOUSE TO THE PALACE - DEAN KOCH

The recent boom in professional darts is changing the cultural landscape of a traditional working-class pub game.

Alexandra Palace, North London. An iconic Grade II Listed Building set in 196 acres of stunning parkland with panoramic views of London. This is the new home of world darts. A pastime more commonly associated with backstreet pubs, seaside holiday camps and working men’s clubs, has relocated its showpiece event, the PDC World Championships, leaving behind its spiritual home, the Circus Tavern. Professional darts has outgrown the nightclub on a windswept Essex industrial estate, a regular host of Sunday Sport strippers and cabaret nights, trading it for the birthplace of television.

Alexandra Palace, North London

Inside the Palace’s West Hall are 2,700 rowdy fans sitting at bier-Keller style tables. Pint in one hand, a 180 placard in the other with scribblings such as ‘I’m off work sick’, ‘darts tarts’ and ‘Hi mum’. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Batman and Robin and Elvis are in the building. 300,000 pints will be sunk in the next eleven days1. The atmosphere is, as legendary darts commentator Sid Waddell describes it, ‘a cross between the Munich beer festival and the Colosseum when Christians were on the menu.’

To the untrained eye it looks more showbiz than sport. The participants are introduced by a MC who calls their names, and their gangster-style nicknames, as they enter the arena to their respective theme tunes such as ‘Let Me Entertain You’ and ‘Is this the way to Amarillo’ whilst being accompanied by glamorous walk-on girls, bustling bouncers, smoke machines and strobe lighting.

The stereotypical darts player may be bald, middle-aged, working class with tattoos up his forearm but the crowd here couldn’t be more different. Scaffolders are sitting next to stockbrokers, office parties are sitting next to pub players and groups of young women in their twenties are sitting next to old couples. They days when a darts audience comprises of middle-aged men who play in a backstreet boozer are over.

‘Darts is on parallel of being an Oasis or Rod Stewart fan,’ says Sid Waddell, who has commentated on darts since the 1970s. ‘Yes the majority of them may still be working class but darts is now something that transcends any class structure and that can only be good. The crowds now are everybody. The England Cricket team and the Harlequins Rugby Union team were at the Ally Pally.

‘It is the nearest you can take fandom. At the cricket you have got to sleep, at the football you have got to sit down. At the cricket you can get dressed up but can’t take musical instruments but at darts you can mock your boss on a placard, you can get beer at pub prices and you can take your girlfriend or your kids. It’s wonderful.’ 2

Darts is now fashionable. Society is no longer jesting at darts. It’s embracing it. The traditional stereotype of players being overweight and so drunk they can barely stand up to throw is being eroded because of the vast amounts of money on the circuit and the professionalism that comes with it. Darts is all about glitz and glamour. Players have their nicknames, their larger-than-life personalities and their bling. It’s becoming a sexy sport.

What was up until recently regarded as a pub game is now the most watched indoor sport in the UK. The viewers can’t get enough. Over 120,000 spectators will be at Professional Darts Corporation Events in 2008, watching players compete for a four million pound prize fund

Such is the recent resurgence in popularity that the PDC set up a Premier League, where their eight best players play around the country on every Thursday for fourteen weeks. It is televised by Sky. From Brighton to Belfast, Plymouth to Aberdeen, 60,000 punters, pack indoor arenas, with a record attendance for the modern era of 8,000 at the newly-built Liverpool Echo Arena.

‘The huge prize, one hundred thousand pounds to the winner, reflects the size of the audience and we have five, six, seven thousand people a night that come to watch,’ says Dave Allen of the PDC. ‘The Premier League is second to only the World Championships in terms of publicity and interest because of the length of the time it runs for.

‘If you look at a Premier League evening you will see that the majority of the audience will be aged between eighteen and thirty. We are also attracting a lot more women. At the World Championship we had stockbrokers and investment bankers coming to watch. In April, we did a dinner at the Café Royale with the National Sporting Club of Great Britain, which is an association of leading businessmen from London who get together for dinner. This was the first one that darts had ever been involved in. We took it from the stereotypical working-class audience. There is now a younger and more mixed audience at darts but we are also tapping into the higher levels of society.’ 3

With the social change in spectators, darts fan culture has developed to where many are attending for a social occasion, a few drinks and a night out, rather than to watch the treat of tungsten being served up by the world’s finest arrowsmiths.

The rampant, boozy crowd ensures it’s the only sport, perhaps Ashes cricket aside, where the atmosphere is comparable to a football match. Though while fans flock to the Kop, the Stadium of Light, or indeed Headingley, to watch their sport. This is not always the case with darts.

‘Me and my pals have just come here for a good drink up and a good night out,’ says Joe Healy, 22, a surveyor from Sidcup, Kent. ‘Whoever wins tonight isn’t really important to us. It’s more about going somewhere different and having a night out.’ 4

This new breed of fan has given birth to something never previously witnessed at darts, booing of players. Historically, players were given the utmost of respect when throwing. Now there is shouting, singing and booing when players are at the oche. The gentlemanly civility and respect for the players has fallen by the wayside.

‘The Premier League is a bit more of a fun event and it is easier to take the booing more seriously if it happens at the World Championship but it is something that happens in all sports,’ says Dave Allen. ‘If you go to a Liverpool v Everton match the Everton fans don’t cheer the Liverpool players, similarly in darts everyone has their favourites. We don’t encourage booing but unfortunately it’s something we can’t prevent.’ 5

Indeed, the crowds have nowadays become so big that they can, at times, be uncontrollable. This hasn’t always been the case. 12,000 fans regularly packed the Ally Pally for the News of the World Championships in the 1970s. Then there were no big screens and TVs. The players were merely a dot at the other end of the arena.

‘All the noise and atmosphere was focused on the players,’ says darts historian Dr Patrick Chaplin, who is popularly known as Dr Darts. ‘Busloads had turned up from all over the country to supports players from their local pub. Although they had a drink they weren’t there just to chatter and get drunk. They appreciated the players and appreciated the darts.’ 6

The Premier League has built a bridge between sport and night-clubbing. The anti-social behaviour and binge-drinking that often comes hand in hand with a night on the town is prevalent. On the first-ever Premier League Darts night in Stoke, the home of thirteen-times world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, fighting broke out between rival groups of Stoke City and Port Vale fans.The PDC has since banned the wearing of football shirts at tournaments. Fighting also broke out at Wembley Arena in April accompanied to the chant of ‘fight, fight, fight’. The young men, and their behaviour, have shifted from a town centre bar to a sporting arena.

‘We’re always concerned about the behaviour of spectators. We want people to come along, enjoy the night in safety and have a good time,’ says Dave Allen. ‘We have our security at events who work alongside the event’s security and our personnel are well-trained. We hope we can keep those incidents, if they do happen, down to a bare minimum.’7

Fans are from every walk of life but a large section of the crowd comprises of eighteen to thirty year-old males. It’s obvious that football some of the fans main sport. From the conversations they have during darts, to the songs they sing, the terrace culture of football is common at working men’s archery.

Saturday 17 November 2007 and every English football fan is supporting Israel, even at the Wolverhampton Civic Centre where the inaugural Grand Slam of Darts is taking place. If Israel were to somehow beat Russia then it would throw England a lifeline and qualification for Euro 2008 would still be possible. In stoppage time Omer Golan strikes to secure an unthinkable 2-1 win for the Israelis. ING-ER-LAND, ING-ER-LAND, IN-GER-LAND erupts the Black Country venue. There is more concern with events in Tel Aviv than the clash between Pat Orreal, an Aussie, and Niels de Ruiter, a Dutchman. The players stop throwing for a couple of minutes while MC Russ Bray tries to restore order and reminds the crowd: ‘Ladies and gentlemen we are at a darts match, not a football match. Can you please show these two players the respect they deserve?’ The chanting, however, continues into the night.

The cost of attending football, particularly a Premiership match, has rocketed in recent years leaving many traditional fans priced out of the grounds. It is not difficult to see why they are flocking to tungsten town. ‘If I go and watch Arsenal it costs me sixty pounds,’ says Kevin Cooley, 20, a student from Finchley, North London. ‘Whereas it only costs me twenty pounds to come here, the action goes on for four hours as apposed to ninety minutes and I can have a beer whilst watching.’ 8

Footballers of yesteryear often drank with their fans in pubs after matches but modern players with their millions in their bank couldn’t be more detached from the ordinary folk who pay to watch them.

‘Over the years footballers were held up as working-class heroes but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Even reserve team players live in mansions,’ says 2007 BDO World Champion Martin Adams. ‘More often than not you will find me in the bar having a pint with the punters. Nowadays you can’t get within one hundred yards of a Premiership player to get his autograph. There seems too much distance with footballers and the fans; you won’t get that with darts as we do not see ourselves as above the fans. Darts players are the real working-class heroes nowadays. We are more accessible and the average Joe can identify with us more than they can with most footballers.’ 9

Most sports have their roots in the English public school but darts was codified in a semi-detached house in Muswell Hill, North London, where in 1973 Olly Croft founded the British Darts Organisation. The first World Championship took place in 1978 at the Heart of the Midland Club in Nottingham where Welshman Leighton Rees defeated England’s John Lowe in front of 2.7million watching BBC viewers.

‘Darts players and their personalities make great sport for television,’ says darts commentator Sid Waddell, who used to work as a television producer. ‘Especially when you realise that they are so deadly accurate that they would fling a dart at the treble twenty and it would not be more than a quarter of an inch out. Their accuracy made it televisable. When Leighton Rees had seven pints of lager and was throwing for three thousand pounds he would only miss by a quarter of an inch. During the first World Championship we split the screen because we were showing the agony and the ecstasy of the face on the right and exactly what was causing the emotion on the left. Just like snooker when they invented colour television, when we split the screen it was the eureka moment of darts.’ 10

The popularity of darts was at a peak in the 1980s when colourful characters Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson and Bobby George, amongst others, downed pints and puffed fags whilst throwing. The popular Sunday afternoon game show Bullseye was regularly watched by eight million viewers and at one stage had a five-year waiting list to be a contestant. Nevertheless, darts was beginning to suffer from an image problem of being a game that was played by overweight drunk men. The media often made more of an issue of how many pints the players drunk rather than how many points they averaged per throw.

The game, with its overweight players and strong links to pubs and working men’s clubs, did not fit into the Thatcherite culture of the day of swanky wine bars and coffee shops, and was dispatched to the cultural dustbin. At the start of 1988 there were ten televised tournaments. Sixteen months later there was just one, the Embassy World Professional.

‘The BDO sat on their laurels but it wasn’t just their fault,’ says Sid Waddell. ‘The ITV committee were reviewing several sports and even though darts was drawing big audiences the people who watched it didn’t have a lot of disposable income and wouldn’t buy flash cars. The BBC was reviewing theirs and they decided that they would have fewer things like bowls, rugby league and darts. There was a move to bring in stereophonic sound so there were big budget cuts.’ 11

‘I think it was also to do with the over-exposure of darts,’ says Dr Patrick Chaplin. ‘What happened to darts was that it saturated the market and there was always darts on TV. Though the formats of tournaments were always the same and I think that people got bored of it. I think that the whole culture of the country had changed and people were looking for something new. Professional players were still chubby boys and there was no longer a place for the working-class sport on TV.’ 12

With the financial incentives no longer available and players struggling to earn a decent living sixteen top professionals, the so-called ‘rebels’, broke away from the British Darts Organisation and helped formed the World Darts Council in 1993, which later become the PDC. It is now spearheaded by sports magnate Barry Hearn and it has six live Sky-televised tournaments a year. It’s where the money is, four million pounds a year in total, but only caters for players at the elite level. The BDO’s system, however, caters for players of all ages and abilities from youth to women’s darts, County League to professional darts. The BDO only has two live BBC tournaments a year but most of the top professionals are where the opportunity and money is, the PDC. It has fifty-four Professional tournaments a year and a minimum prize-fund of fifty thousand pounds for winning one of its Major Sky-televised tournaments. Darts is going global. Players from Cape Town to China and Barbados to India descend on the Ladbrokes.com PDC World Championship in search of a slice of the overall prize fund of over half a million pounds. With increasing television exposure from Sky and audiences going through the roof, darts, at a professional level, is booming.

At the William Morris Labour Club, in South Oxhey, a sprawling council estate on the outskirts of Watford, the Men’s team have been beaten after drafting in players from the bar who don’t usually play. The club once had six teams, now they have just two. The oldest player in the team is sixty-seven and the average age of players is approaching fifty.

The recent resurgence in darts at the top level has not manifested at grass roots level. While over one hundred and twenty thousand people attended Sky-televised tournaments last year, the recent explosion of darts on the television has inspired people to go out and buy a ticket to watch darts. It hasn’t, however kick-started a growth in the number of people playing the game. Perhaps we are becoming a nation of spectators rather than participants as the increase of people going to watch darts is not reflected with a similar rise of registered players. While crowds are at records levels, participation is not.

‘I can’t really blame the youngsters for not coming here and playing,’ says Labour Club captain Steve Wyatt. ‘If I was nineteen I wouldn’t come down here to drink because most people here are in their forties. When we were young there were hardly any bars and most people drank in pubs and people got into darts but the culture has changed. Most youngsters don’t go out to play darts though some of them play pool. I think most of them are interested in going to bars then going onto a club rather than going to a pub.’

‘I’m worried for the future because most of the teams we play against the players are in their forties and fifties,’ adds Wyatt, 38, a postman. ‘There are no youngsters coming through. While people are now starting to take more notice of darts because of the television I don’t think as many people will play darts at a local level as they did in the 1980s. When I started playing in Watford there wasn’t a pub you could go in which didn’t have at least one board and some pubs would have three or four teams. Now there are hardly any pubs.’ 13

The pub is the traditional setting for the game of darts. It is one of the oldest pub games and competitive matches in organised leagues still primarily take place in pubs. While darts is starting to be played more in leisure centres and youth clubs virtually all competitive darts in Britain takes place in one of the country’s 60,000 pubs (or working men’s clubs).

The future for darts is uncertain because, in Britain, the opportunities to play are becoming increasingly limited. Each month fifty-seven pubs permanently close down, many are bull-dozed and housing is instead built. Another one thousand six hundred cease trading. Last orders are being called on the great British institution. Calling time on pubs is restricting opportunity to play the game.

‘Darts and other pub games are very important to the traditional pub,’ says Tony Jerome of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). ‘We don’t want to see darts disappear with the pubs that are being demolished. They are closing partly because of the beer price in the supermarkets is so low compared to what you pay in the pub, and because of the government’s decision to ban smoking.

‘We are worried for the future of the pub because the smoking ban hadn’t really affected the pubs that closed in 2007. A year down the line and with the Chancellor putting beer duty up in the budget, we pay the highest in Europe, the 4p in the pint increase is likely to be about 20p by the time the company, brewery and pub put it on its margins. Less and less people are going to go to pubs while prices go up and nothing is actually done to supermarkets who sell alcohol as a loss leader. ‘14

With wine shacks, theme bars and gastro pubs on the increase in society while dartboards disappear from public houses the ‘Save Our Darts’ campaign was set up with the aim of installing 10,000 more dartboards in pubs by 2017.

‘If pubs continue to take away dartboards then the sport at a grass roots level will suffer badly,’ says Ali Gunning of Save Our Darts. ‘It will prevent future generations playing the game and the sport will no longer be able to develop and the next generation of Phil Taylors will not happen. Our research found that the number of people playing darts in pubs is low because many traditional pubs were putting in more tables and sofas, leaving less room for the oche and dartboard. If we don’t get more landlords to install a dart board, the game really could be consigned to the history books just 30 years from now.’15

With six hundred and fifty-nine pubs the length and breadth of Britain, Wetherspoons is one of the most popular and successful chain of pub on the high street. Nevertheless, no branch has a dartboard.

‘When the company started off it wanted to be different from all other pubs and felt a need to be different from its competitors. It never had any music or entertainment of any kind and darts was, and still is, in that category,’ says Eddie Gershon of Wetherspoons. ‘We wanted to be a pub where people could eat and drink with no other distractions and darts was seen as a distraction. Darts is certainly not on our list of priorities and nothing has ever been mentioned within the company about darts. It’s very unlikely that in the future our pubs will have dartboards. ‘16

Darts has been an officially recognised as a sport since 2005 but many still regard it as a pub game, rather than a sport. This is because of its traditional setting and the fact that many of its participants are overweight and enjoy the odd pint or two whilst playing. The stereotypical darts player was engrained into the nation’s psyche in a Not The Nine O’clock News sketch staring Mel Smith and Griff Rhys-Jones. ‘Fatter Belly’ and ‘Even Fatter Belly’ downed pints of beer and double whiskies while feigning to throw their arrows. It ended with ‘Even Fatter Belly’ being sick. Shortly after, drinking and smoking at the oche during televised tournaments were banned.

Today’s generation of top professionals are leaner and fitter than the likes of Jocky Wilson, Cliff Lazerenko and Leighton Rees. To win a Pro Tour tournament a player will have to compete from midday to late evening. If he is unfit or had too much to drink he won’t be able to make it to the latter stages of the competition. The amount of prize money available on the PDC circuit ensures that professionals adopt a more professional approach. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, who earns over one million pound a year from playing darts, practices for four hours a day and rarely drinks alcohol, players are now realising if they want to compete Taylor they will have to work just as hard, if not harder.

Back at the William Morris Labour Club players are drinking beforehand, during matches and afterwards. Only one player doesn’t drink, and that’s because of health problems. ‘I have to have a few beers before I play,’ says Dave White, 48. ‘I get a bit nervous so the beer relaxes me. I’ve always played darts after having a drink and I couldn’t imagine playing without a beer.’17

At a professional level players can still drink on floor tournaments and backstage during televised tournaments they often have a drink, with Sky’s commercial breaks every twelve minutes providing the perfect opportunity. So does alcohol improve a player’s performance or are they drinking purely out of habit?

‘Sometimes a drink relaxes you and helps you to play better but it can have the opposite effect,’ says Alex ‘The Ace of Herts’ Roy, who is ranked twenty-seventh in the PDC Order of Merit. ‘I’ve played in tournaments where I’ve not had a single drop of alcohol and won it, but I’ve played in other tournaments where I’ve had quite a few pints and then gone out in the first round. It just depends on how you feel; there have been times where a pint has lasted me a couple of hours but there have been times I’ve had seven or eight during a tournament.

‘During the 2001 World Championship I drank nearly a bottle of wine before I went out and played but felt great at the time,’ says Roy whilst swilling a pint of Strongbow. ‘By the time I got to the fourth set given the wine, the heat on stage and the lights, I had a splitting headache and Dave Askew ended up beating me 3-2. The draw had opened up nicely and he went on to reach the semi-final. I was gutted. It was the last time I drank a load of wine before going on stage.’18

Tony ‘The Viper’ Eccles is the only teetotal player on the professional circuit. Being teetotal wasn’t a choice he made, it was made for him. Eccles suffered an allergic reaction to alcohol whilst celebrating his eighteenth birthday. He hasn’t been able to drink since.

‘I think it’s a psychological thing why darts players drink,’ says Eccles, who is ranked fortieth in the PDC Order of Merit. ‘Anybody can learn how to be a good darts player without drinking alcohol. Most players don’t drink when they are practising at home so why do they need to drink during a match? In certain tournaments, such as the ones that last all day, I think being teetotal can give me an edge over the other players because some of them may have been drinking all day and be too tired when they play me or they may not be playing at their best early on because they haven’t drunk.

‘I think that most players’ performances would improve if they stopped drinking alcohol completely. They would always stay at one level, their natural level, instead of playing better or worse than their natural ability by going out and drinking. If they did ban alcohol it would benefit me because a lot of others drink to calm their nerves and I would be up against nervous players. It would be better if everyone is throwing to their natural ability instead of using drink as a performance-enhancer.’ 19

It’s ten o’clock on a warm Saturday morning in May at St Augustine’s church social club, Hammersmith. Forty players are playing darts on ten boards. There isn’t a beer in sight. The bar is not open but even if it was none of the players would be able to drink. They are between the ages of eight and eighteen and are playing in the London School of Darts. It’s a voluntary organisation set up by players of the West London Darts League and is one of four youth development centres in Britain. It is sponsored by Unicorn, one of the biggest darts companies in the country. This is where grass roots darts is stepping out of its traditional home. Players are of all levels of ability and some are taught how to throw darts from scratch. They go through an extensive training programme, do maths exercises to help them with their scoring and are spoken to about the dangers of alcohol.

‘The school was set up to teach kids how to play the game and also teach them the numeracy skills that are important for darts,’ says the school’s founder, Linda James. ‘Darts is the only sport which covers the four disciplines of mathematics and lots of parents have said how much their child’s maths has improved at school since they have been coming here.’ 20

The pupils of the Unicorn London School of Darts are a new breed of player that is learning to play the game without the use of alcohol. It’s just like any other sport where kid learns to kick a ball, score a try or hit a six without the use of alcohol. Nevertheless, when the children are old enough to play in a pub will they then turn into stereotypical darts players?

‘In a few years time when some of them will be playing in pubs they won’t need drink,’ says Linda James. ‘Although darts will always be played in pubs, when these are older they will be a lot fitter, a lot better counters and won’t be reliant on drink, unlike players who have learned the game in a pub.

For these children it will be just like playing football. They won’t have the mindset whereby they have to drink to play. I would love for darts to be a show event at London 2012. Some of our players will be able to meet the standard to play County darts and I would love them to represent their country in the Olympics.’ 21

For darts to be included in the Olympics it has to be played by men in at least seventy-five countries on four continents and by women in forty countries and in three continents. According to the BDO, darts is played in sixty-four nations across six continents. It is not an elitist sport unlike equestrian and sailing, to name but two. Moreover, darts requires more physical activity than shooting and archery, so why shouldn’t it be an Olympic sport?

‘Darts is supposed to be a sport but you cannot drink alcohol in a true sport,’ says Tony Eccles. ‘When darts was first made a sport the first thing that came into my head was that everyone is going to have to stop drinking. If they want to make it an Olympic sport they would have to get rid of alcohol completely. I say ban alcohol then you can call darts a proper sport. I’ve nothing against others having a drink just because I can’t but if it’s a sport then alcohol has to go. Imagine Tiger Woods drinking before he goes out to play?’ 22

While darts will always be played in its traditional setting of the pub, a move away from darts’ spiritual home changes the culture and complexion of the game. As British society is changing, with pubs closing down and the number of people going to pubs decreasing, so is the sport of darts. There is a danger that darts, given its recent popularity with audiences, could end up as a spectator, rather than a participant, sport. Future generations may still want watch darts but the pool of talent playing the game could become smaller.

Eric Bristow once famously said ‘you can take darts out of the pub but you can’t take the pub out of darts.’ If the pub comes out of darts, as is happening with the London School of Darts, then the outlook on darts is likely to change. Thanks largely to the PDC, darts has come a very long way in the last few years as a sport in terms of publicity, prize money and image. If darts’ link with alcohol was somehow cut then surely the whole sporting public would view darts as what it is: a real sport.

Dean Koch

 

Endnotes

  1. Tom Lamont, The Annotated Arena, Observer Sports Monthly, February 2008
  2. Sid Waddell, darts commentator and former TV producer, private interview via telephone, 28 April 2008
  3. Dave Allen, Professional Darts Corporation press officer, private interview via telephone, 23 April 2008
  4. Joe Healy, a surveyor, private interview at Premier League Darts, the Brighton Centre, 20 March 2008
  5. Dave Allen, Professional Darts Corporation press officer, private interview via telephone, 23 April 2008
  6. Dr Patrick Chaplin, of Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. A darts historian who completed a doctorate on

     

    'Darts in England 1900-1939 - a social history.' Private interview via telephone, 13 May 2008

  7. Dave Allen, Professional Darts Corporation press officer, private interview via telephone, 23 April 2008
  8. Kevin Cooley, student, private interview at Premier League Darts, the Brighton Centre, 20 March 2008
  9. Andrew Dillion, Adams’ football dig, in The Sun, January 5 2008
  10. Sid Waddell, darts commentator and former TV producer, private interview via telephone, 28 April 2008
  11. Sid Waddell, darts commentator and former TV producer, private interview via telephone, 28 April 2008
  12. Dr Patrick Chaplin, Research Fellow in History, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. A darts historian who completed a doctorate on 'Darts in England 1900-1939 a social history', private interview via telephone, 13 May 2008

  13. Steve Wyatt, pub darts player, private interview at the William Morris Labour Club, South Oxhey, Watford, 24 April 2008

  14. Tony Jerome, CAMRA (Campaign for real ale) Press Officer, private interview via telphone, 14 April 2008
  15. Ali Gunning, Save Our Darts, private interview via telephone, 23 April 2008
  16. Eddie Gershon, press officer, Wetherspoons, private interview via telephone 7 May 2008
  17. Dave White, pub darts player, private interview at the William Morris Labour Club, South Oxhey, Watford, 24 April 2008
  18. Alex ‘the Ace of Hearts’ Roy, professional darts player ranked 27th in the PDC Order of Merit, private interview at the William Morris Labour Club, South Oxhey, Watford, 21 April 2008
  19. Tony ‘The Viper’ Eccles, professional darts player ranked 40th in the PDC Order of Merit, private interview via telephone, 6 May 2008
  20. Linda James, founder of the Unicorn London School of Darts, private interview at St. Augustine’s club, Hammersmith, 3 May 2008
  21. Linda James, founder of the Unicorn London School of Darts, private interview at St. Augustine’s club, Hammersmith, 3 May 2008
  22. Tony ‘The Viper’ Eccles, professional darts player ranked 40th in the PDC Order of Merit, private interview via telephone, 6 May 2008

NOTE:

My sincere thanks to Dean for allowing me to reproduce his article here on my website. I am always keen to encourage others to write pieces for inclusion on my site so if you feel like contributing then please contact me.

© Patrick Chaplin 2008