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March 2009:

Oh Blimey! Another blank sheet of paper. What do I write about?  How about the bloke down the pub? The postman? The credit crunch?? Or how about something really interesting and not about me? (That should please one or two people out there!).
I would like to offer some positives on both the 2009 World Professional and the PDC World Championship:
 First of all, the players. 
 In both Championships the players once again served us up with a wonderful feast of darts and great entertainment.  They are the ‘Top Of The Bill’ attractions at Lakeside and the Ally Pally,  and the main reason why the fans pack out those venues and switch on their TV sets in their millions.
 There can be no argument that 4.5 million BBC viewers on a Sunday night on BBC 2 – up against ITV’s ‘Dancing On Ice’ – is a pretty healthy reflection of our sport and the players.
 I don’t want to make any silly comparisons or criticise the very players and tournaments that make our sport great.  In my view, they can’t be criticised – they were great as always.
 The same for the presenters, commentators and officials.  Those who bang on about not liking them have a simple solution: Turn them off and don’t watch!
 Personally, like the players, I think they all do a great job and those smug individuals  who think they could do better should have a go.  Believe me, the ones who are constantly moaning would soon be crying for their mummies!!
 Both Championships – thanks to the players and organisers - provided fantastic television and attracted countless column inches of media attention.


There has been the predicable movement of players since the World Championships season, but that shows the strength of the sport and I can only ever wish players - including 2008 World Pro Champion Mark Webster - the very best of luck.  Go and make your mark, Mark! 


One of the true highlights was John Smith’s People’s Darts.  This great initiative for grass roots players proved just what talent there is out there in the pubs and clubs. I have never doubted that fact, because I see so many good players when I do my exhibitions.
 Anyway, the John Smith’s ‘Lakeside 8’ went up on that famous stage in January and did themselves and darts proud.
They were all worthy of the honour, but I reserve my biggest congratulations to Tim ‘Teapot’ Jones from Neath (I call him 2 Sugars!) who won the first ever John Smith’s People’s Darts title.
 What a player and what a style!  From the side on view he really does look like a teapot, but he played like a Pro!
 In the final he beat another ‘legend’ in Tommy ‘Magic’ Dove 3-1, and not only did he win £15,000 for his nominated charity, Arthritis UK, but he’s now off to Spain for the BDO’s Torremolinos Open this month (all expenses paid) and will play in another two BDO Opens this year (See photo by Steve Daszko).
 Congratulations to John Smith’s, the Daily Mirror, and of course the BDO for making this wonderful competition possible. I was proud to be part of the ‘mentoring’ team that included Mark Webster, Martin Adams, John Boy Walton and Ted Hankey (who actually mentored Tim). 
 I have a feeling that John Smith’s People’s Darts will be bigger and even better (if that is possible)  for Lakeside 2010.


 By the way, Tim’s triumph is all the more deserved because of his devotion to his mother, Sheila, who is confined to home with severe arthritis. Tim is her full time carer and he took time out to thank his brother Christopher for looking after his dear old mum while he concentrated on his darts.
 How heart-warming that Arthritis UK will now benefit from the £15k won by Tim at Lakeside.  Three cheers for him and all concerned on this great initiative that is yet another triumph for darts.


Staying on the subject of John Smith’s People’s Darts, it seems that I owe an apology to Grant Vickers of the Ravenscroft pub in Bethnal Green for a slight mix-up in my column.

I mistakenly reported that it was The Albion in which we did our John Smith’s People’s Darts night.
 Of course it was the Ravenscroft where we had a really great night with Grant, his lovely staff and customers.  He tells me that they all had such a good time that they still haven’t stopped talking about it! Glad to put the record straight.


It seems that we are going back to grass roots darts and the ‘ordinary’ public, because the live Legends tour is going to 65 (yes sixty-five!) dates – all over the country, and still counting!
 The line-up is ME! ME! ME! ME! ME! Oh, cancel that!! I forgot myself for a moment. Of course, there is me, but also the legands who are Eric Bristow and  John Lowe, plus comedian Duncan Norvelle  who is a great (and very funny) host. Not forgetting Paul Wilson of Wilson Darts Promotions, who calls the darts…..and ME! (See photo by Chris Sergeant, PDPA/Betfred League of Legends).
It’s a proper show and we are touring like rock stars – almost as old as The Rolling Stones!
 I was hopeless at geography at school, but I’m now learning fast: One night in Lancaster, the next in Cheltenham, then Kettering followed by Camberley and Cornwall…..we have 15 dates alone this month, and that includes trips to Scotland and Ireland.
 There are even negotiations to take the show to Europe at some stage in the future.
 All of this follows the success of The Legends on Setanta last summer, and there is a brand new series being lined up for Setanta this summer.
 Hard to believe that some people have tried to say that the public is not interested in seeing the darts stars of the great era of the 70s and 80s.  I think we have well and truly proved them wrong…….and it’s great for darts.


 The roadshow is the brainchild of John Lowe and Les Bather, who just happens to be the agent of another legend – Ricky Tomlinson, star of TV’s ‘The Royle Family’ – so there is plenty of darts and showbiz knowledge being shared.
 It’s no great secret to say that for many years, Lowey and me have not exactly seen eye to eye or have been what you could describe as ‘the best of friends’. However,  like a good wine we have matured and mellowed as we have got older – the only problem is that Lowey has drunk all the wine! 
 He’s the same age as me, but I’m better looking!


In the early days he didn’t like me dressing up and doing the big and colourful stage entrances, but now he loves it!  He’s even suggested that we could go out on the road together billed as ‘The King & I!’
What a brilliant idea!  I would be up for that and have even come up with another idea for me and Eric to go on the road together – billed as ‘The Pig & I!  He knows I’m only joking! 


 Because my arm is still in a sling, I am not throwing darts on the tour but going out after the darts have been thrown to have a chat with the audience and to answer any questions on darts.
 It’s good fun but I do get nervous about what to say because I don’t have a script, it’s pure ad-lib as I fly by the seat of my pants (literally!).
 On our very first date at The Grand in Lancaster I had a real mouthy heckler – a woman – giving it loads of verbal.  I couldn’t hear exactly what she was saying, because I am half-deaf nowadays and she was more than half-cut!
 Anyway, I eventually shut her up by getting a spotlight on her and telling her that she looked like Lowey in a wig!  That shut her up I can tell you!!
 Keep a look out for The Legends at a theatre near you, and come along and enjoy a truly unique ‘fun’ night of darts and chat.  I promise that you will enjoy it as much as me, Eric, John, Paul and Duncan…..You can’t beat a bit of Legends!


Me and Marie popped down to Eastbourne for the EDO’s Eastbourne English Classic, and we had a really good time.
 We went on the opening Friday of an enjoyable long darts weekend, and I had a great time hosting an exhibition (‘Little Richard’ was MC and Referee) featuring ‘The Dazzler’ Darryl Fitton, John ‘Boy’ Walton and the lovely ‘Golden Girl’ Trina Gulliver.
 Everyone had a great time but I had to laugh when the Mayor & Mayoress arrived and someone in the crowd shouted:  ‘Blimey, Bob, they’ve got more bling around their necks than you have!’
I shouted back: ‘The difference between their bling and my bling is that I own mine!


Had to laugh when my shoulder specialist that to check that I wasn’t taking too many pain killers at Lakeside he watched me on telly! He got up close to the screen to make sure that my pupils were normal! 
And, he did his unique telly check between his surgeries! How’s that for dedication? 


I  close my column on an extremely sad note following the tragic passing of Sharon Henderson, the wife of Lee ( the driving force behind the Setanta/Betfred League of Legends).
Within a week of being told that she had cancer she passed away at the tender age of 39.
 It puts a lot of things into perspective, because she not only leaves behind Lee but their three young children.
 My sincere condolences go to them.  God Bless




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