The real Doctor Of Darts

I find it very difficult to believe that I completed and was awarded my PhD over a decade ago (2006). It was the time when, after being called it for so long by the media, I actually became the real Doctor Darts.

Needless to say, the media had a field day. There follows a couple of examples of their reporting:

A very proud day

‘There can be no happier man this side of the oche today than Patrick Chaplin, of Maldon, Essex.

After ten years of self-funded, intensive, part-time postgraduate research, Patrick has been awarded a PhD by the Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. The Graduation Ceremony took place at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge on Tuesday 6th November 2007. 

The title of his dissertation being:


Patrick’s unique thesis focuses mainly on the period 1918 to 1939 and reveals the forces that transformed the humble traditional English pub game of darts into a social phenomenon during the interwar years, forces that laid the foundations for the international sport that we all recognise today.

Patrick said, “After ten years intensive research, I am thrilled to have gained my doctorate and made a significant contribution to the study of interwar popular culture.” Patrick’s work has been described as ‘among the eminent works of pioneering scholarship in the academic history of twentieth-century leisure and sport.’ Patrick added, “I also chuffed to bits that I have begun to establish the true heritage of the sport of darts.”

Patrick added, “My study of darts began as a hobby but developed into an obsession. Eventually I knew that I could make a positive contribution to the study of English popular culture by researching the social history of darts. I approached the Anglia Ruskin University with my outline plan. This, thankfully, was accepted, and I then embarked on my journey towards a PhD.”

In the past, Patrick has been described as ‘eccentric’ by one national newspaper, ‘an arrers nut’ by another and ‘Doctor Darts’ by others. Indeed, when he began his studies, he was featured on local and national TV and radio and in local and national newspapers, most of who felt that his subject was, to say the least, a little ‘quirky’. Patrick even made Page 3 of a certain national tabloid!

All such publicity spurred Patrick on and though the going has been extremely tough over the past few years, his journey is now at an end – at least as far as the social history of darts is concerned up to 1939.

“There’s still much more to be done,” said Patrick. “My examiners recommended that my thesis be published, so I’ve approached a few academic publishers. I have also been asked to write a guide to darts by a publishing company in New York and am planning to write a ‘People’s History of Darts’, the first full history of the sport.”

Patrick – now the real ‘Doctor Darts’ – works as a freelance writer and lives in Maldon, Essex with his wife Maureen and their cat Angel. His TV appearances include being the ‘mysterious Doctor Darts’ on BBC TV coverage of the Lakeside World Darts Championships and his writing credits include being co-author of three-time world darts champion John Lowe’s autobiography, Old Stoneface published by John Blake in 2005.’

© 2006 Gerald O’Lapane


08:00 – 29 November 2007


‘A Darts enthusiast has gained his PhD after 10 years of hard work in the subject he loves. Dr Patrick Chaplin, also known as Dr Darts, was awarded his doctorate after producing his unique dissertation, Darts in England 1900-1939 – A Social History.

The 57-year-old darts historian said: “Clearly it’s a bit of a quirky qualification. It’s a PhD in social history, but of darts. I did it part-time and was self-funded. I was in full-time employment until three years ago.

“I have been called Dr Darts since I started the research but now I can say I’m a real doctor of darts.”

Patrick’s study of darts began when he started producing a newsletter for his local darts group, but it soon developed into an obsession.

“I’ve loved darts since I was 12 and someone once said to me I could get a qualification, so I approached Anglia Polytechnic to see if it was possible,” he said.

“In 1995, my story was published in the Essex Chronicle and the next week it broke as a national story. I was in all the different papers and I was on the Big Breakfast show.

“But behind it all is a lot of hard work. I’m chuffed to bits that I have begun to establish the true heritage of darts.”

Patrick worked as a local government officer for Essex County Council from 1966 until 2004. He and his wife, Maureen, have lived in Norfolk Road, Maldon, for the last 30 years.

His thesis is due to be published in the 2009 Manchester University Press. He is also contracted with a publisher in New York to write a complete guide to darts.’

Kerry Boullemier

AND then I was honoured by the Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). I announced this to the local and national press as follows:



Following my award of PhD by the Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Cambridge, in December 2006 and my formal graduation in November 2007, I am absolutely thrilled to announce that my work has been further recognised by the University.

On 21st April 2008 I received a letter from Professor Monika Pruetzel-Thomas, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences at ARU confirming my designation as Research Fellow in History.

This designation gives me a formal affiliation with Anglia Ruskin University and, although it is a nominal title, it does give me the authority of the University; the value being that when I visit libraries, archives, etc., it provides me with serious academic credentials.

I will also be able to use my new title in the ‘blurb’ on the back of my book, Darts in England 1900-1939 – a social history, which will be published in the Spring of 2009 by Manchester University Press.

The designation of Research Fellow in History is for a period of two years in the first instance, until 31st May 2010, but it can be extended by mutual agreement.

Clearly the title of Research Fellow in History will enable me to continue my darts research at the highest level (whilst also pursuing my research at a more ‘local’ level too). This will not only raise my personal profile within my area of research but also – and perhaps more importantly – the profile of the sport of darts.

© 2008 Patrick Chaplin (Updated 2020)

Darts in England 1900-39 – A social history is still available in paperback from the Manchester University Press or via Amazon.