Alex Massie

Only One Word for That: Magic Darts

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Enough of this talk of national decline. We still do some things quite well and we should celebrate them. Darts, for instance. I've a piece on the PDC World Championships in this week's edition of the magazine (subscribe!)...

Darts, however, remains a Great British Success Story. For all that darting missionaries preach the gospel of the oche overseas, this country still reigns supreme on the dartboard. The rise of China threatens to overwhelm Britain’s traditional supremacy in snooker, but even though a Japanese darter won a preliminary round match at this year’s championships, Britain retains its comparative advantage when it comes to barrel-chested middle-aged men flinging 20 gram pieces of tungsten at a tiny target.

A trip to the PDC World Darts Championships at Alexandra Palace in north London offers a reminder that this country can still do some things rather well. Here the modern anthropologist will witness tribal rites peculiar to these islands. There, for example, is the authentic dress of the British male at play: large men dressed as babies, policemen, poncho-wearing Bolivian bandits, a gaggle of superheroes and, in the corner there, a chap disguised as a banana. Outside the arena, there’s a brisk trade in ‘Bellies and Bullseyes’ darts-shirts that will cover, if not flatter, even the most fashion-backward figure. Drink is sold by the pitcher and for just £15 the worst pizza you’ll eat all year is delivered to your table. It’s useful for soaking up spilt lager.


Also: Phil Taylor should be the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year. If Ryan Giggs can be given that bauble as a kind of Lifetime Achievement Award then it is disgraceful that the Power be snubbed each and every year. The campaign to recognise the Emperor of Darts starts here...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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