Column #JB38 My Day at the Darts!
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
My Day at the Darts!
The night I had been waiting for since June finally arrived…
Since attending the Premier League in Newcastle in 2012, I had longed to attend the darts again but this time I wanted to go to the biggest event in our sport. If I thought the Premier League was good… this was incredible! Easily one of the best nights of my life.
As London is probably my favourite city I have visited in the world, we decided to travel down to London the day before the event. This meant we were able to set off to the Ally Pally from Central London at around 5pm. My father and I made our way on the London Underground to Wood Green station before planning on getting the bus to the palace. However, after realising London buses didn’t accept cash, we decided we had to walk the estimated 20 minutes to our destination. Unsurprisingly with our sense of direction, this didn’t go to plan! After trailing through housing estates and asking numerous people for directions, we finally found the palace by following a group of Dutch shirts and the 118 men! When we reached the palace though, it was magnificent as the grand building stood on the top of the hill looking over the rest of London.
When we entered the Ally Pally we were greeted with the necessary security checks and a check for football shirts. We were then into the Great Hall (also known as the Fan Village) which contained numerous food stalls, bars, a William Hill guests area, a William Hill betting area (with the chance to win a car) and numerous darts boards. There was even the chance to have a go at ladder darts which Phil Taylor has excellently demonstrated during the TV breaks on Sky! While I was in the Fan Village, I caught a glimpse of the legend that is Eric Bristow and when I went to the toilet I was surrounded by Mr. T and a man wearing a banana suit! The effort some fans put into their fancy dress was spectacular!
Luckily, after getting in touch with PDC Press Officer Dave Allen, he agreed that due to my blog and Dartoid’s World column, he would be able to show me around backstage before the start of the matches. I would like to thank Dave very much for this tour and it was fantastic to see how the logistics of the evening work. After going behind the black curtain where Danny Murphy (ex footballer) was refused entry, I was taken to see the Press Room (walking past Keith Deller on the way) which contained many signed dart boards, a filming area for the PDC YouTube Programme ‘On the Wire’ and the prestigious Sid Waddell trophy locked away! Also inside, tables were lined up where working journalists from around the world, including China and the Netherlands, were situated. John Part, Wayne Mardle and Dan Dawson were also in the tent preparing for the evening.
After leaving the Press Room, I walked along the route which players take to the stage and then I stood on the stage only 10 minutes before the first match begun! At this point, John McDonald was warming up the crowd that I was looking back upon. Finally on my tour I learnt that the camera men are strategically placed to capture the players’ celebrations as they turn to their family and also that there are ideas to possibly move the matches into the Great Hall in the future to increase the capacity to 4,500.
We then made our way to our seats just in time for the walk-ons and I was delighted to find our seats, although in the stands, were as close to stage as possible. This meant we had an excellent view of the action and after watching it back, you can see me in the background when Gary Anderson is taking a drink! The crowd for the whole night was incredible and there was more atmosphere than at any football match I have attended (please watch the videos – see the link below!).
Luckily the crowd, which featured Jake Wood, Jan Vertongen and Matt Le Tissier, were very respectful and despite some criticism, they did pay attention to the darts! Even when 180 cards were confiscated, it was all in good humour as security guards provided new ones.
I was also delighted with the results on the night but my father narrowly missed out on his bet which had Gary Anderson to beat Michael Van Gerwen 6-4 whereas it finished 6-3! There will be more information on the darts itself in my next post which will be a review of the whole tournament.
Finally, when leaving the Alexandra Palace, you may have thought the drama was over but while waiting for the bus back to Central London, a van pulled up with music blaring before a rapper jumped out and entertained the crowds! This was even funnier as I ended up dancing next to Chewbacca! Then when the bus turned up, the crowds poured in leading to the most congested bus journey I have ever experienced but I realised if I was going to get crushed to death, there is no better way to die than on a bus full of people chanting ‘Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary Anderson!’
Eventually we made it back to our hotel and I reflected on the great night I had and hoped that it would not be the last time I would see the greatest show on earth!
Please view my photos and videos of the night at: http://www.dropshots.com/Jambosdarts/albums/485760
Coming Soon: World Championship 2015 Review and Premier League Line Up 2015!