Today sees the launch of the nineteenth edition of the Professional Darts Corporation world championship – and the unofficial launch of ‘darts season’.
For the next month, darts will raise its’ head above the parapet to be enjoyed by millions of people across the UK. By mid-January we will have witnessed twenty-four days of dartistry, as the very best tungsten-tossers in the world battle it out on the stages of Lakeside and Alexandra Palace.
Three world champions will be crowned, one of whom will definitely be female, another of whom will probably be Phil Taylor. In the third, Waites and Winstanley will be hoping to prevent Wolfie completing his hatrick.
In many respects, the darting stories of the next month have already been written – it’s just a case of slotting the names into the relevant part of darting folklore. That missed double, the great comeback, the self-destruction on a stage and desire to be swallowed up. We know that Sky will over-hype, BBC will under-sell, and ESPN will do their best; Taylor will patronise, Adams chortle, Barneveld shake his head, O’Shea monkey around; Green and Gwynne will guide us through it all, helped, with gusto by Mardle, Pkye, Croft, et al, (and, all things crossed, by the returning Waddell). The shirts of Clark, Stubbs and Murray will brighten up the evenings; the press will talk us up and drop us down as quickly as it takes Vincent Van Der Voort to throw his three.
By January 15 we will have new heroes, more stats and stories to slowly forget, and some fabulous darting memories to store alongside, no doubt, a hangover or two.
For now darts fans, put away those petty rivalries, refrain from the moaning and gnashing of teeth, and celebrate our game. Tell your friends to watch; talk darts, tweet darts, tell the landlord to change the channel; bemoan the fact that your arrows will never go as straight as Phil’s, Raymond’s, Trina’s or Scott’s; and enjoy it while it lasts. This is our time of the year.