Blimey! If you want proof of the tremendous strength of grass-roots darts then you need to go no further that West Oxfordshire Darts League. Unbelievably they run 90 (ninety!) men’s teams and 50 (fifty!) ladies teams.
That’s a lot of darts players and a lot of darts, and they have been going for 40 (forty!) years!
Steve Main (the Main Man) is one of the dedicated organisers and I was delighted to be invited along to present the trophies and play a few games to celebrate the 40th Anniversary (Ruby) of the West Oxfordshire Darts Leagues.
There were so many players there that it was like an Open. I got there at 7.30 on a really hot night and I didn’t really start until about 10.30! I then played six games and then handed out dozens of trophies! There was more silverware than at the Royal Wedding! I finally finished at 1.15AM looking like a dried up doughnut and beating Ken Dodd’s record for time on stage! Doddy usually goes on at 7.30 and finishes 5 hours later. By jove, missus! I was knackered at the end of the night but loved every minute of it.
The people I met that night are what darts is all about. They love playing the game and having a crack together (who doesn’t?). Do you know, when I first started playing darts I loved it for the people I met. I would play a game and someone would say: ‘You’re a good player, Bob’ and then buy me a pint. What could be better than that? Playing a game you love and enjoy and having people buy you drinks all the time? Luvverly jubberly!!
What a fantastic achievement for all those lovely ladies and gentlemen who have been enjoying their darts for so many years in West Oxfordshire......makes you wonder how many more players there are in East, South and North Oxfordshire!
Anyway, I had a really ‘fun’ night with some fantastic darts people and I send my best wishes to them all and my thanks to Main Man Steve for inviting me.
While I was there, Linda Ithurralde (she claims no one knows her and no one can spell her name, or pronounce it for that matter!) was there visiting some friends (see photo with me).
Spookily, she knows more about me than even me or Marie does! She remembered everything I have ever done in darts (she only has a short memory) and it was really good to meet up with her again.
I first met her years ago at an International game and it was a privilege to see her winning the 2009 Winmau Women’s Masters. All of us had trouble pronouncing her name! But she didn’t mind us getting it wrong. She only minded when Martin Fitzmaurice got it wrong....Boom! Boom!!
She’s a lovely lady who comes from West Carnforth in County Durham (another hotbed of darts and a lovely part of the country) and has the nickname ‘Ithy’. I prefer to call her Linda because ‘Ithy’ sounds like ‘Iffy’ and she’s certainly not that on or off the oche. In addition to her great win in the World Masters, she’s won (among many other things) the BDO Gold Cup Pairs and the BDO British Open Pairs.
A player for over 30 years, she actually represented England at the age of 22 and can’t wait to do so again!
The phrase ‘salt of the earth’ is often over-used, but it fits Linda and all those West Oxfordshire and County Durham players like a glove!
Did another very enjoyable exhibition night with ‘Little’ Richard Ashdown (the Count of Counters – be careful how you say it!) in Uxbridge on the night of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and it was great on the roads with everyone staying in their homes and pubs to celebrate such a fantastic Royal day.
It reminded me of when me and Marie go married only ours was expensive!
While on the subject of ‘Royalty’, Roly Bright (the King of the road) has had to go in hospital for an operation for a new knee replacement. It should mean that I’ll get another half a million driving miles out of him!
We wish you all the best Roly and look forward to a proper knees-up when it is all done.
Just another reminder that this is the month that the book I have written with ‘The Professor’ (Dr. Patrick Chaplin) Scoring for Show, Doubles for Dough is released on the darts and sporting public.
The book has already been described as ‘a raucous read’ and ‘a must-read for any darts nut’ by one reviewer, while another refers to my ‘unique turn of phrase’.
I guess the last one refers to the fact that I swear (occasionally). But then that’s me. What you see (or in this case what you read) is what you get! I reckon we ought to have put a 15 certificate warning on the cover but The Prof said that might have distracted from my glowing features.
Me and ‘The Professor’ reckon the book’s a bargain at £9.99 in hardback. It will be available from all good bookshops and of course online. If you have one of those electronic ‘Kindle’ things you can also buy the e-book version on Amazon. This sells slightly cheaper than the hardback at £6.89. What a bargain!
In whatever format you read it The Prof and I are sure you will enjoy Scoring for Show, Doubles for Dough so let us know what you think.
What’s next for Bobby the author? Not sure. Let’s see how this one goes and, if it sells well I might just send Patrick back to archives to rummage about while I go back on the road enjoying myself!
Talking about enjoying myself, I welcomed Colin Murray to George Hall recently (see photo of him with a tasty Carp – not me, the fish!) and he turned out to be a keen and very useful fisherman. Trouble is, with his broad Irish accent and my Cockney twang we have trouble understanding each other – except when we are at the bar!
Colin is a great bloke and after his visit to the George Hall lakes, he can now add ‘Catch Of The Day 2’ to his BBC Sunday night Match Of The Day 2 show (now rested until next season).
Colin was joined by David Croft and his family, who had a lovely day until his son, Daniel fell into the lake. I swear that David was giving a running commentary as we fished the little lad out – wet, but none the worse for his ducking.
Fans of BBC’s F1 coverage will know that Crofty now asks the questions in the press conferences with the winning drivers after each race and goes all around the world. It is such a glamorous life, but he swears he enjoys the Lakeside World Pro more than anything else. He does tell some porkie pies!
Anyway, it was nice to welcome a Croft family to contrast with the ‘Wandering Tribes of Muswell Hill’ who descend on George Hall from time to time (only joking Olly, but at least David manages to stay awake!).
Little Richard has also been down with a couple of his mates and had such a great time that he drank all my gin! For a little geezer he can really put the booze away. He always starts with a couple of Pigs Ears, but finishes off with the g & t’s because he loves his shorts (get it?). For the first time ever I actually saw him smoking cigars, so I gave him a lovely King Edward that was bigger than him! (see photo).
Honest, it was so big that his lovely lady Kath had to hold one end of it while he sucked (not the first time that’s happened!)
Staying on the subject of BBC darts personnel, I am delighted to report that I spoke to Tony Green the other day and he sounded fantastic.
In fact, he told me that he has now got the ‘all-clear’ from the cancer specialists who have looked after him and is even back on the golf course enjoying his nickname of ‘The Bandit’.
Tony missed his first ever World Pro this year, and his voice and presence was sorely missed. Can’ty wait to get him back where he belongs!
Good to have you on the mend, Tony.