Darts: I'm no Bobby Dazzler, says Richie Rich
Richie George, the son of flamboyant two-time finalist Bobby, has carved out his own name at the BDO World Championships
Saturday 12 January 2013
So how, Richie George, do you follow the most colourful, charismatic and entertaining player in the history of darts? How do you follow the Liberace of televised darts, the King of Bling, Bobby Dazzler? How do you follow in the footsteps of a father who describes himself as all of the above?
"I have to make a name for myself," suggested George junior ahead of letting fly his first darts on his debut in the BDO World Championships at the Lakeside last week, a venue that has been as good as a second home to George Hall, the 18-bedroom Essex mansion his father built on the back of his own darts career, one that came complete with fishing lakes and a set of arrows decorating the gate posts at the foot of the drive.
Victory over Jimmy Hendriks – a Dutchman who faces an impossible task when it comes to making his name known for darts – to earn an unexpected place in the last eight is a pretty good start to proving, at the oche at least, he is a chip off the old block.
On the back of his shirt George has a print of a chunky golden necklace and the words 'Richie Rich'. Up in the BBC commentary box, his father wears the real thing, a chunk of gold links heavy enough to down a charging rhino and as he celebrated his son's victory (George Snr hadn't expressed huge hopes ahead of the tournament) with a punch of the air it swung lustily from side to side.
George become a mainstay of the BBC's coverage of the "other" world championship – when the sport split in 1993 George was one of the few bigger names to stay put – and remains the name most synonymous with the event. He may not have been one of the greats of the game – he reached two world finals, the second in 1994, 14 years after the first – but his flamboyance has always marked him out.
His youngest son is different. "I don't like all that," he said of his father's bling image – George senior appeared for his last final wearing royal robes and clutching a candelabra.
The younger George, or George the second as the TV commentators have of course dubbed him, confessed to feeling the pressure of his name when he took up darts and after representing England at junior level he decided to slide quietly out of the sport for a time to pursue another career.
The 23-year-old returned last year after a break that had seen him set up his own business, a line of work that could not be further removed from the world his father inhabits. He works in the management of violence and aggression, with particular reference to mental health. "I started out doing in-house training at a private hospital, which was a centre for rehab after brain injuries and for people with autism," he said.
It was in February 2012 that he returned to the game with the aim of earning enough qualifying points to make Lakeside. First out he reached the last 32 of the Dutch Masters and took home €100.
A month later he won £50 at the Isle of Man Open but it got better with two semi-final appearances and a runners-up spot at the BDO International Open.
It was enough to earn a 15th seeding for his first world championships and two wins later a place in the last eight. He plays quickly, unleashing his darts in brisk flurries and it can lead to erratic scoring. His father's showmanship may be lacking but he is an entertainer in his own right – there have been 11 180s en route to the quarter-finals. "He hasn't got here because he's my son," said Bobby. "But he has got my genes."
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