Singapore Darts Masters: “There’s only one word for that – magic darts!”

 

I’m horrified.

The Professional Darts Corporation’s Order of Merit lists a solitary player called Keith. Only one Keith? Like The Rolling Stones?

An AFL equivalent is one culled of every Jaryd, Jarrad, Jared, Jarryd, Jarrod, and Jarred.

With earnings of £1500, number 134 is Dick van Dijk of the Netherlands. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! One hundred and eighty! When he weighed 31 stone (197 kilograms, 434 lbs.) £1500 was former champion Andy “The Viking” Fordham’s pre-match bar tab.

I’m at The Singapore Darts Masters with a Scot, an Irishman, and another Australian. No, it’s not a joke. It doesn’t finish with, “That’s what she said!” or “I thought you were George Michael!” or “They’re all in the truck and one of them’s honking the horn.”

Ignoring visits to the Docklands, I’ve never laughed so heartily at a sporting event’s price structure:

$501 – First Tier Table Tickets including front row seats, player access, limited edition shirt, bottle of spirit plus mixers, goodie bag, 180 cards, fast food & freeflow beer

$301 – Second Tier Table Tickets including goodie bag, 180 cards, event shirt, fast food & freeflow beer

$180 – Third Tier Tickets including fast food & freeflow beer

$40 – Auditorium Seating, with 25% off for early bird booking (that’s us!)

I rarely play darts. At the pub eight ball and darts are distractions. The pub is the place to go after sport, or to watch sport. But not to play sport.

So, I’m at the arrows for the anthropological insights.

But darts is also a celebration of English pubs. Unlike Antipodean hotels, British boozers are thematic extensions of the living room. Board games, nooks for reading, delightfully dreadful wallpaper. Australian pubs position themselves as being the opposite of home; a place of aggressive escape.

Our local in England was The Goat. Built at the end of the 15th century, it has Chesterfields. There are water bowls for your dog and there’s a beer garden with giant Jenga blocks. The landlord wants you in there, enjoying yourself. Collecting your coin is almost an afterthought.

In the Singapore Indoor Stadium’s opening stoush James Wade defeats Peter “Snakebite” Wright. Snakebite sports a technicolour Mohawk and painted skull, while Wade is the one from Finance. “The accountant wins,” I predict. Scottish Andy replies, “They always do. They always do.”

The darts is set in 1982. Like merchant sailors or long-haul truck drivers, some of the players are festooned with ancient tattoos, top of the forearm – no Chinese symbols or wanky Latin maxims here.

The combatants’ shirts are relaxed, except for the girth, where each seems to be smuggling an upturned Sunbeam® Mixmaster® bowl across the Russian border on a dark night.

A cracking soundtrack blasts the arena. The Communards, Style Council, The Church, Stealers Wheel, The Jam. It’s rollicking. The Unicorn darts board is miked up, and each projectile thuds in with a sonically satisfying basso tone like a depth charge in a speeded up submarine movie.

Russ “The Voice” Bray is the score announcer. We’re tickled by his raspy, theatrical style that makes Ray Winstone sound like Barry Gibb. In the UK he lends his larynx to Ladbrokes and Cash Converters. His “One hundred and eighty!” is Tom Waits-tearing-his-hamstring-while-off-the-long-run vocal mania. He and the two official scorers stand with black-shirted backs to us, slump shouldered like Norf London henchmen staring down into Barry’s fresh grave.

Up next is Stoke-on-Trent powerhouse, and former ceramic toilet roll handle maker, Phil Taylor. He and Dave Chisnell exchange 180’s through the middle legs (possibly illegal here).

And Chissy crushes The Power!

“I’m delighted, over the moon,” said Chisnall, fulfilling every British sports-star’s lunar cliché obligation. “I started quite well; my scoring was good at the beginning and I was hitting my finishes well.”

Only twenty-four, Michael van Gerwen is preternaturally talented. On the balcony a cluster of orange-attired girls holler as the Dutch prodigy strides out to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

MVG’s already developing the darts physique, and with his shaven bonce, he’s a hybrid of Gary Ablett Junior and Little Britain’s Matt Lucas. A nine-dart finish is analogous to a hat trick or ten-pin bowling’s 300 game. He first did this on television when he was seventeen.

The boys and I provide our own analysis.

“Loose darts…”

“Tidy darts.”

“Quick darts!”

As our evening evolves we offer more colour.

“Angry darts!!!”

“Pensive darts?”

“Socially enlightened darts.”

“Post-modern darts?”

Simon Whitlock’s walk on is “Down Under” by Men At Work. See, 1982! And he does look like Brett Lee. A Brett Lee with a sheet-metal worker goatee, clashing ink, and Willie Nelson ponytail. He strains perilously into the board, but flings like a surgeon. Richie Benaud might’ve observed that, “The slow-moDtion replay does not really show how fast the dart was travelling.”

Quarter-finals (read in your best BBC voice): Peter Wright 4, James Wade 10; Simon Whitlock 10, Raymond van Barneveld 6; Phil Taylor 6, Dave Chisnall 10; Michael van Gerwen 10, Andy Hamilton 4.

To compensate for the evening’s unspeakable lack of Keiths I listen to Exile On Main St as the MRT hurries under the harbour towards Orchard. And I think of Sid Waddell who once exclaimed, “You couldn’t get more excitement here if Elvis Presley walked in eating a chip sandwich!”

 

 

About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Loved the sociological insights Mickey. And the Tom Waits hamstring tear line.
    The darts is in Perth for the TABTOUCH Masters Tournament next weekend. Having experienced the TABTOUCH too often, I think I’ll pass.
    Eagles v Demons beckons.

  2. Bob Morrow says

    Wonderful I felt I was there.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Corker Mickey.

    Let me guess

    Don’t Leave Me This Way
    Shout To The Top
    Tantalized
    Stuck In The Middle With You
    A Town Called Malice

    And maybe Elvis had seen Kirsty down at that fish shop.

  4. mickey randall says

    Thanks Peter. Now that I have been to the darts, I would probably pick the footy too, although maybe not a game featuring Tbe Demons!

    Thanks very much Bob.

    Swish- 4/5. The Church song was The Unguarded Moment; great tune, but not one I expected at the darts. Was waiting for Tainted Love by Soft Cell but maybe someone trod on the 45! Thanks.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Yeah, went out on a limb with The Church song, thought that Under The Milky Way was a bit mellow for darts and their early stuff might not have been international enough for the event. Reptile was my next guess.

  6. I was happily surprised to hear them at all. It was very much a British event, and maybe The Church were included as a nod to the only Australian in the tournament, Simon Whitlock.

    I also reckon The Smiths would have added some punch to the evening’s soundtrack!

  7. Mickey, picture-painting of high order.
    Shirts, girth, Tom Waits…
    Only one word springs to mind after reading your cracking story: loved it.

  8. A gem Mickey. Made me wish I was there.
    I thought for sure they would have played ABC’s 1982 hit “Shoot that Poison Arrow”. The song would have been doubly appropriate, given the girth of the archers you described, with the bastardised lyrics penned by English test cricket fans and directed somewhat maliciously at an overweight Shane Warne…..
    “Who ate those pies? You did, you did!”

  9. Thanks ER. I imagine on your recent trip to the Old Dart you saw some darts being played in those magnificent old pubs.

    kevmak- “Shoot that Poison Arrow” is a song I’ve not heard in the longest time. Nor Flock of Seagulls for that matter! The Barmy Army has a back catalogue of Warney songs to rival Lennon/McCartney, at least in number. I’m keen to get to the races at Kranji soon too. Thanks for that.

  10. Nice piece Mickey.

    The inaugural Almanac Darts tournament is being held at the Waterside Hotel on Brownlow night. (Sep 22)

    Nominations welcome. [email protected]

  11. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Mickey price wise re beer and food costs how does the $ 180 option stack up in terms of how long is the night etc value wise ? A enjoyable read all up re a sport I must admit I don’t follow , Mickey

  12. Thanks for that Malcolm. Even the $180 package didn’t represent good value. We had a pretty good night out for about half that each. It’s not a sport I follow too closely either, but thought I might as well get along, as I’d be surprised if Adelaide ever hosted a major darts event! The night began at about 7.30 and the last arrow was around 11. It was a funny night.

  13. Nice Blog. Thanks for posting this.

  14. Informative post, if you want to buy darts , which is work like a magic for you. Buy best quality branded quality darts online at reasonable cost.

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