For some it’s festive football, for others it’s a Boxing Day test match, but for me, only one thing epitomises Christmas. Darts
Yuletides of old are filled with the nonsensical chittering of Sid Waddell, as two blokes peppered the board with arrows. Ending up invariably, with Phil Taylor taking the crown on New Year’s Day.
The debate will run and run about the validity of the sport, but as I’m stuffing my twenty seventh blanketed pig in my gob, I couldn’t care less.
Not just because of the magic of Michael Van Gerwen, or the cultish Paul ‘The Singapore Slinger’ Lim, but because of who I was watching it with, my gran.Embed from Getty Images
It was one thing we always had in common, me and gran. She played a bit back in the day, the trophies adorning window sills and the mantelpiece around her house. And I loved the characters, the atmosphere, and Paul Nicholson just being an all round rascal.
We’d sit there for hours, morning session, evening session, even flicking the BBC on to catch some of the BDO and Ted ‘The Count’ Hankie.
That was always the sign the festive season had begun for me, the sight of the Ally Pally packed to the rafters. Adrian Lewis is being run close by some rogue Montenegrin qualifier and John Part is showing his face, still living off his mid-naughties hype.
Seeing Darth Maple on my TV screen was the trigger for the tree to go up, and the decorations to come out. Glad tidings to one and all.
Some might be tempted to whack on a Christmas song, I prefer the backing track of tungsten thudding on cork.Embed from Getty Images
For almost three weeks the sporting shindig continues, as I consume my own bodyweight in mince pies, yule log and cheese balls. The diet of champions. I see those bellies on the telly, all stocky at the oche, I want that. Eat some more stilton. I want that. To me, these men are sporting Adonises.
Yes, it still has the tag as a ‘pub game’ by many, but it’s that element which produces the characters that make it the spectacle it is.
‘One Dart’, ‘The Artist’, ‘Hawaii 501’, all these names from yesteryear have lit up the stage, not always for the right reasons. Even today, Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright can rub people up the wrong way, and Gerwen Price couldn’t be more abrasive even if he was a pumice stone.
But that’s why we love it, the characters, those Barney vs Taylor epics, Kirk Shepherd.
My Christmas list consists of just three words this year.
Lets. Play. Darts.
Featured photograph/Max Pixel