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Champion Tossers Put Tosser Champions To Shame
by Kirsty Walker
In last month’s Swine Shaun Smith pronounced the British Darts Oranisation Championship coverage as one of the few things that would cheer you up as you saw all the shite you’d paid hundreds for less than a month ago now reduced to 8p and slung in a wire bucket as a warning to others. True enough, sport has been risible in the last few weeks : deserved humiliation at the Gabba for Sir Andrew Flintoff and his knock-kneed troupe of titled tossers who were too busy turning their logos to the cameras to catch a fucking ball; the BBC asks website visitors to ‘pick your England Rugby Union XV’ and we wonder if Judy Dench is available; we’re so accustomed to a two-horse race in the so-called ‘Best League in the World’ that the prospect of Chelsea dropping two points counts as a footballing coup.
So left with snooker – sport’s own screensaver – and darts to choose from, five million people tuned in to watch two fifty year olds toss the arrows in the BDO final, half of them hoping to see a match rivaling the excitement of the PDC’s final where Raymond van Barneveld beat Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor in a tense sudden death round, and half just amused to see fat blokes and mulleted birds taking a pub sport seriously.
And so to the Lakeside where the thousand most annoying people and their kids from everyone’s local are sat at pub tables swilling beer that you suspect is at bargain prices to stimulate the atmosphere and stop ‘Tiny’ McGee from Doncaster from chinning the barman when he expects eight quid for two plastic pints. They wave ready made signs saying things like ‘SHEILA + WILF AT THE DOG, PUTNEY’, the obligatory ‘180’ pre-printed cards having been handed out and customized with ‘TEZ YOUR A NOB’ and ‘SHIRLEY – MARRY ME?’.
Entrance music, costumes and nicknames are of course de rigeur in darts these days. Like puffed up American wrestlers they wait at the arena entrance, dry ice billowing and some poorly chosen entrance music playing in the background. Anastasia Dobromyslova of Russia inexplicably chose Evenescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’ which as far as I know has little or nothing to with darts. Andre Brantjes chooses the rather somber ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ by Tears For Fears, and Tony West says ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’ with the help of Baby D. It. The players in the BDO look pleasingly uncomfortable with the foofarah of their entrances to the hall. In the semi-final between Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams and Ted ‘The Count’ Hankey, the organizers had a field day, scattering plastic bats and toy wolves everywhere and turning the smoke machines up to full. “It’s the Wolfman versus The Count” announced commentator Tony Green, in case some of us didn’t get it. And there’s Martin Adams, entering to the strains of ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and giving the obligatory howl. Hankey wore a full length black cape and tossed more plastic bats into the crowd. Both men had big smiles and winked at the crowd constantly, like they were desperate to make out that this was just a bit of fun.
Both semi-finals were superb, England captain Martin Adams beat arrogant bastard Mervyn King who has in the past blamed air-conditioning and the length of the oche for lack of form. King had earlier threatened to walk out of the competition if rumours of him joining the Professional Darts Association persisted. In a brilliant TV interview he looked set to knock Ray Stubbs spark out for pressing the issue but unfortunately anger management seemed to triumph.
Phil Nixon had entered the tournament for the first time, and as a rank outsider at 150-1. He played eleventh seed, Dutchman Niels de Ruiter and went 5 sets up only to see de Ruieter come back to make it 5-4. On finally winning 6-4, the oldest player in the tournament entered the final as outsider again, looking slightly less glamorous than ‘Wolfie’ Adams, with the half-hearted nickname ‘Nixy’, and looking like a greying Roy Cropper.
For all the sound and fury of the build up, it looked as if this would be the quickest final in recent years. Adams powered ahead, accurate, confident and focused, annihilating Nixon who looked like he was throwing chocolate logs into concrete. Going out for the break in the first to seven sets match, Adams was 6-0 up. In the players’ lounge, Bobby George, whose bling would make King Midas shield his eyes, wears what looks like a mayoral chain as Ray Stubbs begs him to confirm that the Beeb have got a real routing on their hands. “Nixy must be gatted.” Says Bobby.
Back on the oche and Tony Green is all but packing up his butties when out of nowhere Nixon pulled eight consecutive winning legs out of the bag – tossing in 180s like he was at a practice session and leaving ‘Wolfie’ Adams to howl in disbelief. On and on he went, Adams starting to miss the doubles that he’d landed without a problem only minutes before, and Nixon banging them in with pinpoint accuracy. From 6-0 and the prospect of an early night, came 6-6 and the players tied at 2 legs each. Martin Adams had been one dart away from victory eight times in the first half of the final, now his arm looked like lead, and Phil Nixon, the 150-1 shot had him by the balls.
Through all this, the crowd are going mental for every underdog dart that leaves Nixon’s hand. The cameras meanwhile, are bouncing between the action and the two players’ wives, sitting in the balcony. Sharon Adams wears ‘Bet Lynch’ by Matalan, a beautiful silver leopard print blouse with added ruffles. Much was made of the fact that a BBC make-up girl gave her a good going over before curtain up. She looks heartwarmingly attractive – even Tony remarks on how ‘well’ she looks. Suzanne Nixon has been given no such attention but sits with half a lager in her hand, clearly seen as intoning ‘Shitting hell!’ when Nixy misses an important double.
Tony Green refers constantly to the two women; “Sharon Adams has left the hall, she can’t take it any more!” he said as Nixon finally leveled to 6-6. “Suzanne Nixon’s standing up – she’s not going anywhere!”. This was about as far from the misguided idolatry of the World Cup WAGS of last year as you could get. It was justified recognition for women who haven’t been in receipt of BMWs or lucrative advertising contracts, but have lost their houses, like Sharon Adams did when Wolfie’s first foray into professionalism went awry, or acted as the main breadwinner like Suzanne Nixon whilst Phil tried for twenty years to get to the BDO finals. The financial rewards now that those dreams have come true are paltry by today’s sporting standards. In the same week as David Beckham gets $1million a week for his semi-retirement, two darts players get 70 and 30 grand respectively for being World Champion, and Championship runner up. The same day as the final a woman opened some random boxes on Deal Or No Deal and beat the championship earnings of Phil Nixon by two thousand quid.
“They’re playing for the world’s greatest title” says Tony Green. In a world where Mourinho blames lack of money for Chelsea’s misfortune, and not even the landed gentry can keep the colonials down at cricket, it’s difficult to disagree.
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