I love me my darts, which is handy, being a sports journalist, but seriously, the more I go to Premier League Darts the more I wish I didn’t.
If you’re not an arrows enthusiast – and let’s face it, there’s no real reason you should be – Premier League Darts is basically a competition that tours round the UK, with the eight best players in the world playing each other on a league basis. My particular favourite player is a lovely Dutch chap called Raymond van Barneveld, who is the world number 2. So, y’know, pretty good. I’ve not yet been to a single match where Barney hasn’t had to contend with a huge chunk of the crowd booing him and chanting, “Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land” before he throws. (His compatriot Roland Scholten had to put up with similar treatment when he was a competitor.)
And of course, the ladies at darts are just for decoration. I had vaguely made my peace with the lovely model accompanying each player in his walk-on (they have nicknames and theme songs, and they walk on before their match to their theme, and…no, really, darts is great!), but now they’ve put a couple of women in bikini tops and hula skirts to walk on with Wayne ‘Hawaii 501’ Mardle and it makes me want to scratch people.
But then, I shouldn’t really be surprised. Last time I went, prior to the start of the matches and the television broadcast, the MC was on warming up the audience, and asked for a volunteer from the crowd. A sea of male hands waved in the air, begging him to pick them for their 15 seconds of stardom. The MC grinned and added, “Should have said – preferably a blonde with big tits.” Hilarity ensued, obviously. And what made it even sadder is a well-endowed blonde woman from the audience was only too happy to join him on stage, flaunt her assets and soak up the heckles and the ‘appreciative’ calls from the rest of the crowd.