Aden Kirk: The Last Working Class Hero

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It’s weird to remember that, for a few years at the turn of the century, poker on television was a genuinely exciting proposition. Channel 4’s Late Night Poker was briefly essential viewing. Each week a group of mine who all looked like they had lock-up garages rented in fake names would play a few hands, with commentary provided by the mouth above Victoria Coren’s breasts. The show had personalities, all the guys there looked like they gambled and they all looked like they had no concept of the correct way to pursue a healthy work/life balance. Indeed, the number of episodes that ended with a black-and-white photo of one of the competitors and the words “has since passed away” etched beside it in italics must have been in the double figures. Continue reading

Wes Newton isn’t a terrible darts player, Simon Whitlock probably is

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How did you cope when you finally realised that Wes Newton is a good darts player? I didn’t. I just ignored it. Most of us did. He’s a hard man to love and an even harder man to hate. He’s an ever-present whose presence never registers, a permanent fixture with no significant features. If professional darts was a shopping centre food court, Newton would be The West Cornwall Pasty Company. Continue reading

On Paul Nicholson as the most damaged figure in darts

Darts is wrestling. It’s a concept that comes up again and again, both as an explanation and a criticism. They’re both bombastic, overblown “sporting events” that begin in the town halls and progressed to the larger stages. They both originated as working men’s pastimes. They both have a theoretical cast of thousands that effectively boil down to the same 30 or 40 people fighting it out for the top organisation’s titles. Each man has a gimmick, each gimmick has a theme tune, each theme tune has a designated crowd response. And in Stone Cold Steve Austin and Robert Thornton, both men have a slaphead wifebeater at the top table. Continue reading

Stephen Bunting, Taylor’s whitewash and @SkySportsDarts

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Stephen Bunting was a big part of the reasoning behind this blog being set up. I like him a lot as a player and have no reason to dislike him as a person. I like how he seems to come from a different England, an England of “Strike it Lucky” and “You Bet!” and when “Stars In Their Eyes” contestants still blacked up. An England where pork scratching were still sold on cardboard placards of Page 3 models.  Continue reading