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.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fund, London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fu...

Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Multicast, Low Latency

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Mul...

Network Infrastructure Engineer

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Infrastructure Engineer (...

Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Multicast)

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Mult...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition