Capt. Fred Emerson, an American currently based in Florida, has been a dart player for over 40 years, since the day that his mom allowed his older brother Don to hang a ‘rolled paper’ board in the kitchen. Fred was instantly hooked on the game and as soon as he started his first-ever after-school job he saved up his money and bought ‘a real board.’
Most folks play darts at some times in their lives and a good number give up the game in favour of other interests, but for many the enthusiasm for the sport lasts a lifetime. Capt. Fred certainly fits into the latter category and his love of darts has resulted in his publishing a book on the game. Published a few months ago ‘A Bar Player’s Guide to Winning Darts’ reflects the affection with which Fred holds darts and is exactly what it says in the title.
The book is full of anecdotes (“He was a formidable bar athlete – equally adept with a pool cue…or a dart.”), clear advice (“Practice, practice – and more practice.”) and home-spun philosophy (“…if a place has a dartboard or two, …all the merrier.”). It is also liberally illustrated with photos and diagrams. For example, the oche area in one bar is shown and described as ‘The Battlefield of Dart Wars’!
This is no academic work, but it is what it is. It’s a personal darts journey and is all the better for all of that. Reminiscences of playing on the American ‘Baseball’ dartboard – which is still popular in some parts of the USA – are refreshing, as is Fred’s honesty as regards the soft tip game. His chapter on soft-tip is short and to the point. Fred comments, “This book was written by a steel-tipped player, whose first love is bristle board Cricket, for those who aspire to playing hard darts. I will leave the book on soft tip to someone who feels about the plastic game as I feel about steel tipped play.” I said it is an honest book!
Chapter 13 is particularly interesting as in there Fred proffers advice to bar owners in his ‘Guide to Making Steel Tip Darts Pay.’ Fred identifies the probable customer base in one case as ‘‘young and upscale with a small core of veteran players’ and emphasises that darts is ‘a big beer drinkers game. I haven’t seen a book offer up advice to bar owners on the provision of the game for many, many years.
Fred’s thoughts on the future of darts are ‘inexorably linked to the Internet’ with games being played between teams hundreds, maybe thousands of miles from each other. As Fred observes, “The cameras are already out there, and they are inexpensive.” And “What about an Internet Dart League?” asks Fred. Why not indeed.
Fred wants his book to help spread the word of darts and bring new players into the fold. I think it will do more than that. This is a book that has been born out of a single guy’s enthusiasm for our sport. It covers all the material you would expect – equipment, games, practice, strategy and how to play a winning game – yet it also makes you smile to read it. It is a dart players’ book and reflects the spirit of the game Fred so clearly loves.
[A Bar Player’s Guide to Winning Darts is published on demand in co-operation with Trafford Publishing. The book costs $13.95 (plus postage and packing) and can be obtained from Capt. Fred Everson, 1807 Kofreshi Ct., Ruskin, Florida 33570, USA.]
15th February 2003
© 2007 Patrick Chaplin