There are two post-Christmas lunch staples in our family: backyard cricket and the darts on Fox Sports.
This year, with the mellow drowsiness of the last white lingering, there was only one option for me. I found the couch and started my search through the Foxtel guide.
My screen filled with a heaving, chanting crowd in fancy dress singing “Here we go”. A strange-looking middle-age gentleman with a multicoloured Mohawk and shocking fluoro-green tights was linedancing on the stage and gesturing to the crowd like a pantomime hero.
“Oh,” I said. “This must be Peter Wright.” I had found Sky’s coverage of the 2019 World Darts Championship.
Of course, you’d do well to try to forget the bizarre audience, the cheerleaders wiggling their pompoms and the room commentator introducing the players like it was a heavyweight boxing match. You’d best try to ignore the neverending gambling adds and garish outfits worn by the players.
You just have to concentrate on the game. These guys have skill. While they’re not athletes, they’re highly trained darts players and have an unerring ability to hit what they aim at. The outer ring doubles the score, the inner ring triples the score and the inner and outer bull, which count 50 and 25 respectively. are at their mercy.
A critical ability is to hit the outer ring when under pressure. Fail and you give your opponent his chance.
The No.1 seed is Michael van Gerwen from the Netherlands. Michael has won over $3 million over the last two years. Tall and bald, he propels his darts malevolently at the board. His outfit is a striking lime-green shirt with a truly aggressive attitude. He is always the one to beat.
The No.2 seed is Peter Wright. He won over $1.5 million over the last two years. His outfits are crazy but his talent is elite.
Up to last year the most amazing player was Phil Taylor, who finally hung up his darts after a truly storied career in which he won 16 world championships. He is the Donald Bradman of darts. His career earnings were over $15 million and he ruled over darts for many years. He was not flashy, just solid and effective, and he beat everybody time after time.
Darts is essentially English and characterised by typical English, Irish and Scottish characters – but now Europe, Australia and the rest of the world are coming to grab some of the goodies and glamour.
Long may it survive.