On the oche at the Ally Pally

Darts on TV
Darts on TV

TRISH TAKES FIVE: By award-winning blogger Trish Burgess

Night after night in the run up to Christmas I was ousted from my usual place on the sofa so my husband and son could sit together and watch the World Darts Championship.

For them, Christmas telly isn’t the choir from Kings College, Cambridge or re-runs of The Snowman. No, it’s watching men, with varying sizes of belly, entertain a bunch of well-oiled fans dressed as smurfs and oompa-loompas.

From my spot on the secondary settee I like to think my Geordie background gives me a certain Sid Waddell charm when I add my two penn’orth to the proceedings. However, I give myself away by asking questions such as, “How many legs make a set?” which causes much eye-rolling.

It’s hard not to be drawn into the spectacle, though. There aren’t many sports where a player has to execute precision manoeuvres to the strain of an endless loop of ‘Don’t Take Me Home’.

Can you imagine that happening in other sports? Justin Rose is lining up for a tee-shot while an array of Teletubbies sing the Yaya/Kolo Toure song very loudly round the green.

It’s a game anyone can play but it’s very difficult to play well: the holes peppered in the wall of our spare room are testament to that. So I have huge admiration for the likes of Phil Taylor and, this year’s winner, Michael van Gerwen, for turning in superb performances time and time again.

It must be fantastic to achieve a level of excellency which allows you to have your own walk-on music. There can’t be a darts fan in the world who hasn’t worked out what his own choice of song would be if he reached the dizzy heights of playing at the Ally Pally. Dougie fancies the Simple Minds song, “Promised You a Miracle”. And, indeed, it would be.

I suspect fans of other sports might scoff at the fact that players don’t look particularly fit. But surely the mental fitness required is huge. Speedy addition and subtraction is needed, plus the ability to work out which combination of numbers will lead to the best doubles at the end to check out.

With this in mind, I propose we add darts to the National Curriculum for maths. All schools should have a dart board and, if there are worries about lethal weapons being thrown about, they could use child-friendly magnetic arrows instead. Just think how quickly the kids would pick up on number bonding.

Every year I plan to buy tickets for my two boys so they can experience the championship in person but I always forget. Not this year. I’m happy to find them fancy dress costumes and set them on the train. Then at least I can have one night over the festive period where I have control of the remote control. Hallelujah!

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk