Thursday, February 05, 2015

Bellies and Bullseyes: The Outrageous True Story of Darts by Sid Waddell (Ebury Press 2007)

In mid-February I went up to Newcastle from my home in Leeds for the England/Scotland clash. I attended the pre-match banquet and had a drink with some of the players before the meal. Alan Glazier, a star exhibition player like Evans, was courteous and shy. Tony Brown, also of England, looked like Desperate Dan and was drinking gin fast. Charlie Ellix, a small Cockney, also seemed to have a mighty thirst. Across the way, nineteen-year-old Eric Bris“tow toyed with a pint of lager. Later he told me that the Indoor League had inspired him. ‘When I was sixteen me dad was teaching me darts and I used to sit on the settee watching Indoor League. I said to me mum and dad “I want to go on that”.’ He did, and he won it.

Next day the action and atmosphere at the City Hall lived up to expectation. The last time I’d been there was to see PJ Proby, and the support was a band called Nero and the Gladiators. The darts was gladiatorial and the Geordie crowd loved every minute. Two images live in my memory. Firstly, Bristow saluting the crowd after a 16-dart leg and going on to win. Secondly, a stocky mop-headed little bloke from Kirkcaldy who bounced around the stage in tartan trews and did a number on Charlie Ellix. He was described in the programme as ‘Jocky’ Wilson – ‘one of the unemployed’.

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