I had been a darts’ fan for many years prior to my twelve months on the circuit – a visit to Purfleet at the turn of the century with my copy of The Guardian tucked nervously inside The Daily Star perhaps the catalyst for that year – but it is only since my book about darts was published that I have become fully aware of the extraordinary lack of media interest in one of the few sports in which Great Britain truly excels.
Coverage of darts peaks over Christmas and the New Year during the two world championships, but then – with the notable exception of Sky Sports – the game is returned to the box marked ‘seasonal events we can stereotype’, alongside St Valentine and MPs summer holidays.
Somewhere, a trick is being missed, a point made clear by Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) boss Barry Hearn on a recent, and rare, discussion about darts on BBC Radio 5 Live. The 2010 PDC world champion will take home £200,000, the sport has a healthy following on Sky, (with a quarter of a million recently tuning in for the final of the Las Vegas desert classic), audiences are increasingly made up of men in their 20s – a delightful demographic for advertisers – and the 2009 Premier League sold 65,000 tickets at £30 or £20 before a dart was thrown. Any sport that can sell out a 4,000 venue in Exeter surely demands some appropriate media coverage.
Frustrated with the lack of intelligent, interesting and in-depth exposure of the game, I decided last year to put together a series of podcasts. Six months later the intelligent and in-depth sections may be restricted to the ten minute interview with John Part, but hopefully The Wrong Bed is interesting at the very least. And Pineapple Joe, as the three-time world champion has now become to my fellow presenter Tricky D and myself, is cool. Damn cool, even in Vegas.
So there we go. The Wrong Bed is just up there, above, under Podcast. Listen, enjoy, laugh (at or with, either is fine), comment, suggest, and join the march to give the sport of kings (well, Henry VIII) a leg up into the world of serious recognition – the world that will discuss archery without talking about Robin Hood, snooker without calling it a load of balls, boxing without worrying about dodgy decisions and bruising brain-cells, but rarely succeeds in discussing darts without a tiny touch of contempt.