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Article: Pubs, power and pints the perfect mix for success

Pubs, power and pints the perfect mix for success

ARTS isn^t just a game for beer-bellied geezers in bad bowling shirts in dingy little pubs, it^s also a lucrative professional sport for beer-bellied geezers in bad bowling shirts in increasingly big stadiums.

Playing darts requires a finely tuned forearm and a highly trained thumb and forefinger. Man boobs are preferable for the balance required at delivery. The best training method for throwing an accurate dart is to raise a beer to your lips and place it back on the table. Coincidentally, this game is very popular in England.

Last Sunday, the undisputed king of darts, Phil "The Power" Taylor, walloped the world No. 2, the Dutch ex-postie Raymond "Barney" van Barneveld, to claim the Professional Darts Corporation world championship for the 14th time. (To play pro darts, you must have a nickname — this is not optional — the more daft the better, sewn onto to the back of your worst shirt).

Despite Barney^s best efforts, The Power was on. The darts had Taylor^s name on them. Literally, they had his name on them. He won seven sets to one, with a record three-dart average of 110.94. If you don^t know how good that is, take three darts, and the rest of the year off, and see how long it takes you to get 110.

When he threw his final dart, the 48-year-old Taylor spun around in his massive red-and-black shirt and threw his arms wide, revealing a large "Power" tattooed down the inside of his right forearm and "Glory" down his left. There was nothing else to say.

The 2500-strong full house at London^s Alexandra Palace went beer-fuelled-ballistic, chanting "En-ger-land" and singing "There^s only one Phil Taylor".

In the Old Dart, darts are a phenomenon. They^re mad for it. Taylor^s entrance was enormous — he ran in high-fiving the adoring fans waving hand-written placards with slogans like "Can you Phil the Power" as techno music pumped and strobe lights swirled. Throughout, they held up "180" signs and plastic pints and bellowed along as the announcer confirmed another "one hunnndreddd andddd eighhhhtyyyyy".

The previous night, the crowd had gone off its head when "Barney" threw a "nine-dart finish" — akin to a 300 game in bowling or a 147 break in snooker — except in darts it^s rarer than a lemon soda. Barney^s nine-darter (3 x treble 20; 3 x treble 20; treble 20, treble 19, double 12, to wipe off the required 501) was just the 15th televised nine-darter ever. The crowd stood and danced and chanted "The Barney Army! The Barney Army!"

But on final night, there would be no dancing for Barney. "I played a computer," the Dutchman said. "He^s the greatest on earth."

The greatest on earth left school at 16 to make ceramic toilet-roll handles. He earned £52 a week and spent it in his local Stoke-on-Trent pub, drinking pints and playing darts. One day he was spotted by Eric Bristow, a darts legend, who sponsored him £10,000 to quit his job, get practising, and enter tournaments.

Taylor became the first pro darts player to win £1 million. On Sunday, he added £125,000. Next month he^s guest-starring on Coronation Street. He^s a certified star, and a great example for the kiddies: if you don^t get drafted, you can always try your luck at The Commercial.

Stort By: The Age

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