Patrick Chaplin:

The Poet Laureate of Darts

A SELECTION OF NOEL'S POEMS

Noel E. Williamson - Picture courtesy of Darts World MagazineNoel was very keen to pass on his skills as a dart player both as a coach and a poet. Here is an early 1970s poem about the throw line written before the darts authorities agreed that the oche should be at 7’ 9 ¼”.

THE EIGHT- FOOT MARK!

There are those who prefer the shorter throw
And those who prefer the long,
And it hardly matters from where you aim
If your darts are going wrong!

Just throw your best, and throw with zest,
And remember the follow-through,
And practice whenever you get the chance
If you know what’s good for you!

Don’t ‘get your feet wet’ when you throw,
And to this advice please hark,
Take up a firm but easy stance –
Behind the eight-foot mark!

© 1972 Noel E. Williamson

And when it comes to throwing your darts, Noel’s message is clear…

TAKE IT EASY!

When playing darts, it is agreed,
A steady hand is what you need.

A good eye and a perfect stance.
(For darts is not a game of chance!)

Don’t look to right or left at all,
For that is how the mighty fall!

The board is your target, - not the mat,
So, be careful what you’re aiming at!

Forget what is happening all around,
And keep both feet upon the ground;

Don’t let anything hurry you,
And let each dart fly straight and true!

Once you have acquired the knack,
Believe me, you will not look back!

© 1972 Noel E. Williamson

Noel even summarised a darts training plan in this fine poem:

Maxium Score 180 A GAME OF SKILL!

Darts is a game where skill is needed.
(So say all who have succeeded
In winning trophies by the score!) –
So, keep both feet upon the floor
And look at the number you’re aiming for!
Keep your eye upon the board
And reckon up what you have scored,
And, - to save a lot of trouble, -
Try to leave a certain double,
When throwing a dart, you must ‘follow through’,
Then wins will come oftener for you!

© 1972 Noel E. Williamson

But of course not every game goes to plan, as this next poem shows when Noel waxes poetic over

WIRE TROUBLE

“That one should have scored!”
“Yes, - I know it!” said Tom, -
“My scoring has gone all to pot!
You’ll notice that during the course of this game
That’s the third two-dart score I’ve got! –
And it’s not all that long since I used to obtain
A regular three-figure score!
So why is it now that, again and again,
I get forty, - and one on the floor?
It’s not lack of practice, - to that I can swear!
Sometimes I throw till I tire!
It’s just that, of late,
I’ve developed the knack
Of consistently hitting the wire!”

© 1988 Noel E. Williamson

Noel was never slow in putting pen to paper about who he regarded as the ‘greats’ of the sport of darts. As mentioned above, Noel was a great admirer of the darting prowess of the late Joe Hitchcock. Here is a poem that Noel penned in 1975 in honour of one of the greatest dart players of all time.

Joe Hitchcock

JOE HITCHCOCK

Wherever dartsmen congregate,
Whenever darts teams meet, -
The conversation always turns
Towards the game’s elite!
The ones who are outstanding,
Consistently the best,
And of these, there’s one whom I
Must rate above the rest!
If you’ve seen his exhibitions,
Then you must agree with me,
He’s in a class all of his own,
Superlative is he!
Let it be known to one and all
For whom darts is the game, -
There is a Master Dartsman, -
Joe Hitchcock is his name!

© 1975 Noel E. Williamson

But Noel also had time for the ‘new kids on the block’ (as they were then) and also sung the praises of five times Embassy World Professional Champion, Eric Bristow, when he was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours in January 1989.Eric Bristow World Champion

“THANK YOU ERIC!”

Though gone are the great old Champions,
Hitchcock, Newstead, Barrett, Pike,
We still have with us Anderson,
Lowe, Bristow, and the like!

And Bristow has the M.B.E., -
A credit to his name,
And to all who helped to organise
Our favourite indoor game!

The B.D.O. and N.D.A., -
And League officials, too, -
Contributors to “DARTS WORLD”, -
To mention but a few!

This, indeed, has been an asset
To the image of the game,
May others like it follow, -
Thus to extol its fame!

So, - thank you, Eric Bristow,
For your brilliance up to date, -
Congratulations, and good luck,
For you have earned it, mate!

© 1989 Noel E. Williamson

Noel was not alone in writing darts poetry but was certainly the foremost exponent of the form during the 1970s and 1980s and likely as not encouraged others to pen a poem or three in praise of the great game and the great names.

If you are, or were, one of those latter-day darts poets, why not send a copy of your poem(s) to me via my Contact page and let’s build up a store of darts poetry here on my web site. I will need written confirmation from you that you are the copyright holder and permission to publish. In all cases the copyright will remain with the author.

I can think of no more fitting memorial to Noel than to have other darts poems from around the world sitting here next to the work of ‘the Poet Laureate of Darts.’

Text © 2004 Patrick Chaplin

[Part of the text first appeared in DARTS WORLD magazine – issue no 376 dated March 2004]

June 2004

A Quiver of 3This next poem is unique as it’s the only one I know of which has been penned by a soft-tip darts player. Tim Bucci, from Springfield, Illinois, and author of the book ‘A Quiver of 3’, penned the following poem some years ago. He told me, “The poem is about a match I played against my long-time arch-rival, Rick Hesse. Rick was a great friend who sadly died in the summer of 2006.” Tim added, “Steel-tippers would be completely dismayed why someone would shoot two double-bulls to kill a 132, unless you made it apparent it was a soft-tip match.”

Tim, I’ll gladly do that, but please note that our steel-tip pros shoot out on two bull’s-eyes all the time in exhibition play. Don’t they?

BUCCI AT THE TAP

(with apologies to Ernest L. Thayer's "Casey At The Bat")

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Break Time two that day.
Their record, one and three, upon them began to weigh.

Nathaniel "Gabby" Slaughter entered and Tim Bucci did the same.
The Tap's Mitch Miller and Rick Hesse waited, preparing for the games.

But lest you think a match this night was all about two teams,
It was and yet it wasn't ... there was more to this, it seems.

Few shooters have a history like the two who played that night.
Their story goes back many years, with darts they came to fight.

As captains Nate and Mitch shook hands, their mates began to glare.
Tim and Rick had met before, there was no love lost there.

Their grudges were renowned to all for the matches they have led.
To each a certain vengeance for some insult not yet dead.

The patrons came in one by one, milling through the bar.
They came to watch these grudge match games, from near and from afar.

They shook the hands of Nate and Booch, best wishes from the throng.
Well-wishers hoped the two to win, to right some Hesse wrong.

But then when doubles failed to take to win the early games,
It looked too grim an outlook for the Break Time team again.

The crowd that came to watch the match began to sulk and doubt.
It seemed the same old outcome was about to be played out.

Then fire grew in Bucci's eyes, a resolve which Hesse knew.
And The Booch's cast as underdog took on a different hue.

Slowly from his chair he stood, his darts held in his palm,
The crowd that gathered this night knew they watched a deadly calm.

Now at the line he stomped his heel and gave his foot a twist.
His dart it flew from fettered grasp, a flick of nimble wrist.

The bullseye smacked familiar as this dart shot straight and true.
The second lit just like the first, while leaving thirty-two.

And then from ninety throats arose a blissful, buoyant roar.
It echoed in the back room, it tumbled out the door.

It pounded down the city block and rumbled o'er the town.
The night came alive in Springfield, the air was filled with sound.

And ever so slowly, with the crowd becoming still,
Bucci turned to Hesse, glaring hard until,
He looked down at the third in hand, considering the throw,
And a rumbling in the room began, so low you might not know.

Adjusting for the double, and angling for the six,
If breathing came to cease just then, the heartbeats they were thick.

And now The Booch holds out the dart, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the crowd as they explode....

Oh, somewhere in this world of darts the moon is shining bright.
A jukebox plays out classic rock, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and the women twist and shout,

But there is no joy in Springfield, The Booch couldn't double out.

11/05/02 Two-Man 501 Masters Match Result: Illinois Tap - 9 wins; Break Time - 4 wins
© Timothy Bucci

Author of "Soft-Tip Darts for the New Player: A Quiver of 3"
Available at: Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, PoolNDarts.com, Authorhouse.com (For my review see the ‘Book and Video Review’ section)

© Patrick Chaplin 2007

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