January is a depressing time of the year but imagine how bleak it would be without the darts at the Lakeside.
After the excess of new year (and our new year stretched long, long, long into new year's day which led to a bit of boo hoo), it always takes us a wee while to get through the paranoia and rediscover the unquenchable thirst for lager we enjoyed throughout December. But this year, on January 5 it was darts o'clock. We had no choice but to man up and get our drink back on. Not swilling ale down your gob and down your front at the darts is as unthinkable as walking past a Gregg's and not ducking in for a chicken bake. Outrageous.
We watched the highlights of the first day at the Lakeside to get us in the mood for our first round session on the Sunday of this year's competition. From our first viewing, Alan 'Chuck' Norris definitely marked himself out as a real contender. It was the combination of his winning way with the arrows, confident pot noodle chat and 'Asbo darts' case for his spears. He had all the makings of a star. A Saturday evening viewing also ensured that by the time Sunday morning rolled around, we were knowledged up, thirsty and ready.
Getting the train to the Lakeside felt like we were on the train to nowhere. The only clue that this was the darts express was a man dressed as a Saudi oil baron and the group of 'lads' in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle attire. Other than that, it was just a bunch of morose-looking blokes eating M&S butties with all the vim and vigour of a day at work ahead. Even when we disembarked in Farnborough, there was no way you'd think there was an important sporting event going down in the near vicinity. It was as dead as fuck.
After a taxi ride to the Lakeside complex, we bundled our way inside the Lakeside - it feels like a massive working men's club in the 'arena'. It's one massive boozer with a darts board on a small stage - but you could feel the magic in the air. We found our table and bought a jug of pissy lager which set the tone for the afternoon. We got carried away during the first match while watching Japanese pretender to the throne Hiroaki Shimizu against Christian Kist and downed the jug amid all the shouting and throwing of arrows. It set the quaffing pace for the rest of the afternoon.
While we caughy some serious arrows, the bits in-between the matches were almost as fun as we sought to meet some of the 'stars in the building. BBC presenter Colin Murray was caught outside having a gasper and requested that, while he would happily sign an autograph, he'd prefer not to have his photo taken smoking a cig. No worries Col - but sign my Ryan Gosling autograph book yo. He did. Nice one.
|Feel the magic|
|Me and Colin Murray|
|Wolfie and me|
|Kong and Kathyyyy|
|A smoking priest. Probably not a real priest.|
|Avatar meets the Mask in the darts...|
|One of the refs|
|The wolf of Lakeside|
|Clapping like darts-loving bastards|