In Christmas' of yester-decades the image of weighty men, swilling beer, darts in one hand, cigarette's in another, used to filament on the tiny TV set we had at the time. Legends of the game like Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, John Lowe and Keith Deller. The image looked at times as if shot in the back room of a strip club, and who's to say it wasn't.
When Deller shocked the darting world in 1983, the year Brighton & Hove Albion were robbed of an FA Cup by a blond South African, he pocketed £8,000 for turning over Eric Bristow in one of the all-time classics.
I don't know where Darts went for many years, but a split came about in 1994 when players broke away to form the PDC world championship.
Dennis 'The Menace' Priestly took the honours that year beating legendary Phil 'The Power' Taylor 6-1. He pocketed a whopping £16,000. The newly formed body struggled in the early years, where rivals BDO had more lucrative prize-money. Then along came Sky Sports, gave darts a face lift, and began selling out big arena's with people out for a good time. Against the backdrop of the noise were the greatest players in the game, and when Raymond Van Barneveld crossed over he was followed quickly by the best of the rest.
The money flooded in from TV, sponsorship and advertising and suddenly darts was being promoted as a professional sport as it had never been before. Tonight, the final takes place between Adrian 'Jackpot' Lewis and Gary 'The Flying Scotsman' Anderson with the winner able to drown himself in cash to the tune of £200,000. Yes folks, darts is home.
It may be time to do a little investing. Give up writing for the Oche. The eventual pay-off may be worth it. Pubs who support the sport will do well through this recession. It will grow into even more a professional sport. And given the fact that Prince Harry gave Adrian Lewis a great big hug after his semi final victory last night, who's to say the game won't just be classed as a working man's sport, but an all round sport for all classes. Perhaps Harry is at home right now, playing a game of 101 with his Granny.
Personally, I reckon I could take down Brian Clown any day of the week. In any pub he wants!
Adrian Lewis 7 Gary Anderson 6.
180, over and out...