Wherever I travel at home or abroad I usually try and track down a game of darts and this was quite an easy task when holidaying recently in Cyprus.
The story of my meetings with important folks from darts organisations on the island of Aphrodite will appear in Darts Player 2009 (the sister magazine to Darts World) published in November but in the meantime here is a report about my visit to Cyprus which appeared in the October 2008 issue of The Paphos Post.
‘PATRICK CHAPLIN is a rare academic. He has a PhD in Social History – not that’s unusual – but it’s the nature of his subject that makes him unique. He is a Darts Historian and is known as ‘Doctor Darts’.
His thesis – Darts in England (1900-1939) – was the social piece of history that earned him the degree from the Anglia Ruskin (ARU) in Cambridge last year.
e is also a regular visitor to the island with his wife of 35 years, Maureen, and spent his seventh holiday in eight years here last month. While here he took a day away from holidaymaking to meet up with the officials of the Pafos Darts League, Limassol Darts Association, Larnaca Darts Association and the Cyprus Darts Federation all in Limassol.
It proved quite a historic occasion and I managed to grab the good doctor for a little while to find out what makes him so keen on this pub and social club activity.
Said Patrick: “When I set up my original Darts History website back in 2000, I had no idea how successful it would be or indeed if anyone else out there in the global Internet community was interested in the history of this great sport.”
In fact, he has been staggered by the response from darts fans and within a comparatively short time this website has become among the most popular darts sites on the Planet.
Chaplin (58), who lives in Maldon, Essex, is a retired local government officer, who now spends most of his time researching darts. He threw his first darts when he was seven year old at a fairground and started to play ‘seriously’ at the age of 12, although he never had any aspirations to be a professional player. He worked for Essex county Council as an administrator from 1966 until he took early retirement in March 2004 at the age of 53.
It took him 10 years of part-time, self-funded research before he was eventually awarded his PhD. Tony Wood, the editor of the magazine – ‘Darts World’, dubbed him – ‘The Doctor of Darts’. “Darts really began to take hold after the 1920’s. In that year there was so much going on with dance, greyhounds, cinema, theatre and leisure became a family thing – if you could afford it,” said Patrick!
“So brewers, publicans and licensed victuallers in the mid-20’s got together to find a way to bring the working man in particular back into the public-houses. They set up a standard set of rules for Darts and it went from there. “You could say that the game of Darts saved the English public-house,” he added.Darts is said to have its origins in the cross-section of a tree and an old name for the board is a butt, which infers that the bottom of a wine-barrels was used as the original dartboard. It is also said that archers used these types of targets with shortened arrows.
In recent times the game has had its ups and downs but it is certainly booming at the moment in Cyprus, where the Pafos Darts League alone has reported an increase of teams from 16 last year to 24 taking part for the 2008-09 season.
(The Manchester University Press will be publishing Patrick’s book – Darts in England, 1900 –1939 – a social history’ in their series Studies in Popular Culture in Spring 2009)’
Note: My thanks to the late Chris Mills, editor of The Paphos Post, for permission to reproduce his article on this website. For details of the websites of darts organisations in Cyprus please go to the Links page. Click here..
Note: It has been some years since I last visited Cyprus but I undertsand that the darts scene continues to thrive. It is my hope that I will return to the Island of Aphrodite before too long. PC 2019