Jingle Bells time is here again and it feels as though last Christmas was only yesterday – if you see what I mean!
It must be an age thing, but the years just seem to fly by and just like one Christmas seems to be followed quickly by another, it’s the same with Lakeside which – incredibly – will be celebrating its 35th consecutive year on BBC in January!
What a record that is for the sport of darts. I didn’t play my first one until 1980 and got to that memorable final with Eric (Bristow) when I let him off the hook (only joking E!) in a great game which he won 5-3.
Those were the days when everybody smoked and drank when they were playing, and when you consider how health and safety has gone nuts in recent years (ask Bob Potter) it seems unbelievable looking back at those years.
Happy days I call them!
Anyway, I thought the live draw on ESPN for Lakeside 2012 was a nice touch. It mixed darts and football, with Dave Beasant, the only goalie to save a penalty in the FA Cup Final (when Wimbledon memorably beat Liverpool in 1988) joining Bob Potter (looking younger and dapper than ever) to make the draw on ‘The Talk Of The Terrace’ show.
It was a football audience enjoying darts and a celebration of ESPN’s comprehensive coverage of next month’s Lakeside.
After the success of the World Masters they are clearly loving BDO darts.
My old mucker, Ray Stubbs will be making a return to Lakeside to present all of ESPN’s coverage and I will be joining Colin Murray to present BBC coverage.
Just like me, Ray can’t wait for Lakeside 2012!
Looking at the draw I reckon Martin Adams will have a tough opening match against ‘Scotty Dog’ Mitchell, who is the local hero from Dorset. Martin will be making his 19th Lakeside appearance and has won it three times, while Scott only made his Lakeside debut in 2010 and has never progressed past the First Round......but this is Lakeside and who knows what will happen in January?
I can’t see Scott getting past Wolfie, but the heavyweight clash between Robbie ‘Kong’ Green and Dazzler Darryl Fitton is much harder to call.
One of many First Round matches to look forward to!
We all know that anything can happen in the short format of 5 sets, and that famous Lakeside stage is a real leveller. I have always said that those few steps up onto the stage is the most sobering moment in the career of any player (unless you happen to be Anthony Fleet of Australia!)
Anyway, other tasty matches will be the all-Yorkshire battle between John Boy Walton and Martin Atkins, and remarkably with a record-breaking eight Dutch players in the field, the only all-Dutch First Round match will be between Jan Dekker and newcomer Christian Kist. Dekker was a Semi-Finalist on his debut last January, but Kist came through the International Play-Offs in September and showed his mettle in the World Masters when he got to the last 16.
They are a couple of fast players and the crowd will love them. Not so sure about Jan’s nickname of ‘Mr.Coat’ though. The reason for this is that he walked on stage in a jacket on his debut (a nice touch but he could have ironed it!) but surely ‘Mr.Jacket’ would be a better moniker? Or why not ‘Double Dekker’?
Whatever my thoughts, I am certain that Lakeside 2012 is going to be its unique mix of excitement, drama and great entertainment. The TV coverage is a bit tasty.....BBC, ESPN, Eurosport, Eurosport Asia and BBC Worldwide just for good measure.
What you can only describe as truly global coverage for what Bob Potter describes as ‘the greatest darts show on earth’!
What a month I’ve had! Here’s a typical day in the life of Bobby: Get up at some ridiculously early time and drive to Nottingham for ‘The Legends’ (see photo), then drive back to Stansted and get on the plane to Scotland for a Davie Hanson exhibition night with Adrian Lewis and Martin Adams.
Trouble is, when the plane lands, top photographer Chris Sargeant, who is supposed to be there tp meet me can’t find me, and I can’t find him!
When we did eventually find one another, we then drove to a hotel that was in the middle of nowhere! Trees on one side and a river on the other.
I felt like I was in the gaffe of Rumplestiltskin - so I hid all my gold under the bed!!
Somehow I managed to grab three hours sleep and then it was off to the show in which the idea was that I would be the entertainment in the middle of another head to head between Jackpot and Wolfie.
It was one of those days (and nights) I would rather forget, because there was no sign of Adrian at the designated time. Then came the bombshell when he called to say that he’d broken down on the motorway!
I think Davie Hanson had a breakdown of a different kind because after getting over the initial shock, he just couldn’t face telling the organiser when it became clear that Adrian’s car was never going to start. He tried everything but had to give in and abort the trip!
Martin and I saved the day by organising extra games of doubles with some of the punters. It went so well that they were chanting ‘Sir Bobby’. But to be honest I was so exhausted that all I wanted was to sleep!
Eventually I got to bed at 2.30AM and then had to be up early next morning after just 3 hours of kip! Davie then took me to the airport to catch a plane back to Luton so that I could go on to an exhibition with Tony O’Shea, Peter Manley and Wayne Mardle.
Even though I was proper cream-crackered, I have to say that we had a great ‘ fun night’ called ‘Walk This Way’ – the Battle of the Walk-Ons!! It was organised by Little Richard Ashdown who did a great job and it was luvverly jubbly to be with Tony, Peter and Wayne.
Thanks for your company guys !
At the risk of being accused of name-dropping (as if I would!) Colin Lloyd has been popping in to George Hall to practice with my Richard. I only mention this because Colin is a great darts player and a very nice bloke. Richard can only benefit from practicing with him.
Before we get to Christmas, 2011, New Year and Lakeside 2012, I have yet another birthday to celebrate on December 16th! I won’t tell you how old I am, because I’m always told that I can’t count!
Anyway, I don’t get any older – just younger – ask Marie!
My Richard will be 22 on December 18th so he should now be coming to his peak. Mind you, if he follows his old man then he shouldn’t really be playing ‘cos I didn’t throw a dart until I was 30!
As regular readers know, all the men in George Hall have December birthdays, woth my eldest boy Robert completing the hat-trick with his 24th on December 12th.
I want any presents, but of anyone of looking for the ideal stocking filler (I always am!) then can I suggest my latest book ‘Scoring For Show, Doubles for Dough’ (see photo) which is a rare collection my darts lingo in collaboration (what a good word!) with ‘The Prof’ Patrick Chaplin.
There’s a lovely foreword by Ray Stubbs and I have a couple of nice comments from Eric Bristow and John Lowe: Lowey was all polite and said: ‘It’s humorous and a pleasure to read’ but Eric hits the nail on the head when he says: ‘Bobby’s language has always been a bit colourful.....now here’s the proof’.
You’ve got to read it to find out, but I can promise that you will have a good laugh and learn some tasty darts lingo!
I can only finish by saying Happy birthday to all the George’s and a very Merry Xmas to all my readers.
Have a good one and remember, when the Festive fun is over, there is Lakeside 2012 to lookg forward to from January 7th to 15th.