By Cameron Paterson
As most of us focus the terrible weather of winter hits the country, there’s a different storm happening in sport with the world of darts.
The annual winter spectacles of darts’ world championships are due to begin with the Professional Darts’ Corporation (PDC) World Championships concluding at the beginning of January as the British Darts Organisation (BDO) World Championships get into their stride at Alexandra Palace, London, and Lakeside Country Club, Surrey, respectively.
Scotland’s relationship with darts has taken an upward curve in recent times, especially after Gary Anderson became the first Scottish champion since Les Wallace in 1997. What’s more, Peter Wright, a former World finalist, is now in the top four of the PDC Order of Merit alongside Anderson.
Of course, if you’re not so bothered by the patriotism and success stories, the presence of alcohol and wild costumes give the major tournaments a crazy Hallowe’en party vibe that should appeal to anyone looking for something a bit different.
For a number of years now, also, the likes of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen have played host to the PDC’s Premier League Darts, with Glasgow and Aberdeen dates on the calendar in 2016 and Len Mutch, the chairman of the Scottish Darts’ Association, describes the scene for any potential attendee:
“The Lakeside one is the one I prefer to watch myself but I believe that if you look at the figures the majority of the people watch the other ones because that’s what they want: a good night out, a couple of drinks. The only thing is with 11,000 people watching it I would say 95 per cent of them can’t see the dartboard anyway, they’ve got to depend on the big screens.
“Even at the Lakeside they have two big screens as well now for people to actually see the dartboard a bit closer and things like that. When you actually look at the dartboard no-one apart from the first row can see anything. It’s as simple as that. The atmosphere is the thing they go for.”
It’s not just the atmosphere that can excite the crowds though. The skills featured at a darts match in the modern era are unbelievable. Many sports have special tricks, but its not everyday you tune into a football match to expect to see five world-beating goals, for example. However, with darts, you can bet that at one point during a night you’ll see an amazing 100+ average or an attempt at a nine-dart finish.
Some of these skills will be attempted by the players flying the flag for the country, with Mutch thinking that the reigning champion Anderson will have a tough battle to keep his hands on the title in the PDC.
“Well we have what, four in the PDC side and we have two in the BDO side, the four in the PDC side, Gary Anderson, Robert Thornton, Peter Wright [and John Henderson]. Yeah Gary’s the reigning champion, right, so the hardest thing to do is retain your title. The simple fact is once you become world champion you belong to everyone. You’ve got to do exhibition matches all year so instead of actually sitting down and practising.”
With the atmosphere and the future of Scottish darts looking bright, it seems anyone taking the plunge to attend Scottish events in 2016 will certainly be treated to a special spectacle.
Certain highlights of the PDC World Championship will be available to watch free on the Sky Sports website, or you could purchase a Now TV pass for a couple of weeks if it takes your interest and you don’t want to miss out on anything, while the BDO World Championship will be live on the BBC and BT Sport.