Darts fans still raise the (one) roof for their night on the tiles

Sport on TV

If Santa Claus ever wanted to go out in public and not be recognised, he could try the World Darts Championships.

There are so many spectators dressed up as Father Christmas at London’s Alexandra Palace that they might actually be able to deliver presents to all the world’s children in a single night. The only problem is that the tournament is always held at Santa’s busiest time of the year. If he didn’t turn up to work, he would surely get the sack.

As Dave Clark informed us (Sky Sports One, Thursday), “Christmas in the capital means only one thing: darts!” It’s good to know that the real meaning of the festive season has not been lost. Poor old Jesus, meanwhile, had better not try to get into the Ally Pally. The Christ lookalike Nathan Grindal (he has long hair and a beard) wasn’t allowed into this month’s Players’ Championship at Butlin’s in Minehead after his appearance last year incited the crowd to some kind of near-religious fervour. It must be the time of year.

Santa would fit in with the old-school darts players: rotund, red-faced, and he likes to drink on the job. Now the gladiators of the oche in pubs and clubs across the land tend to resemble accountants and act like nominated drivers, sipping their water. As they say in darts, what’s the point of that?

Sky Sports still whoop it up for all it’s worth – even without the surreal spiel of the sadly departed doyen of the commentary box, Sid Waddell, and the disaffected John Gwynne. Instead Rod Studd, who must have had a career in porn before this, sung the praises of “the sport of kings at the people’s palace”. According to the opening credits it was “massive darts”, although they don’t look much bigger than normal. And it’s all happening “under one roof”, which is stretching the hype a bit far.

If the darts does get a bit boring after the defeat of Phil Taylor on Friday night, you can always watch the crowd. The guy who came as a gorilla surrounded by a gaggle of women dressed as bananas was the pick of the bunch. As for the bloke holding up a sign saying “Happy anniversary Helen”, he might have been better off wearing a disguise.

There was a lot of talk about the slow play of the likes of Justin Pipe. The titans of tungsten are all getting younger and prefer to play quickly. But they weren’t deliberately slow in the old days, they just had to catch their breath between puffs on a ciggie and try to focus on the numbers.

One throwback to the golden age is the rather shambolic Austrian Serb Mensur Suljovic, who bowed down and out after a humdinger against Mark Webster on Thursday. He looks like he’s about to topple over, as if the tipple has got the better of him. “It is the oddest of throws,” opined Studd, “one-legged, reminiscent of a mating ritual of the flamingo.” John Part added: “It is effectively ballet-looking to me” but he ruined the poetry by calling him “staccatic”.

Then the man from Mensa got his sums wrong, miscounting at a set up and 2-2: the accountants would never have done that. “Mathematical madness from Mensur,” said Studd to lift the level of commentary, which has been rather lacking in flights of fancy.

The match was a thriller but it wasn’t “world-class in capital letters”. As another double went missing, Part said: “Wow, there’s a lot of speed bumps on this road.” That’s one improvement on days gone by. The dartists of yesteryear wouldn’t have even noticed the speed bumps.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable