Talking Points is a regular area of the Darts World Website and involves important or smaller pieces of news or those stories which may need longer exposure than the 24hrs cycle usually allows.
We included a version in our digital publication Darts World Extra (The Worlds) which launched in late March to coincide with the WDF Lakeside World Championship and the completion of the 2021 (Covid disrupted) season.
Palace Talking Points
Looking for a new, and larger, venue after the huge success of the 2007 World Championships, the PDC stumbled upon ”the people’s palace”. Despite being used as a circus venue, exhibition hall, and even a refugee shelter, Alexandra Palace has a long association with darts. The legendary News of the World event held its finals at the London venue with the raucous, but entertaining, atmosphere from the 1960s is preserved in YouTube clips.
Ally Pally has provided fairytales, excitement and drama, from its first year as host. Rank outsider Kirk Shepherd made the final that first year only to be felled at the final hurdle by Darth Maple (John Part). Every year since, thousands of fans, often in highly original fancy dress, have flocked to witness the next chapter of this fabulous story. Now, of course, the Palace even has its own Queen!
Sid Waddell was known as “The Voice of Darts” and credited by many with helping to popularize the game in the 1970s and keep it alive during the leaner times. Sid’s unique use of language, enthusiasm, and love for the game can barely have been matched.
Quotes such as “The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in, with a portion of chips… you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them.“ have become legendary and Waddell is remembered with affection by millions.
Sid’s death in 2012 marked a generational change in darts. The decision to commission a new PDC World Championship Trophy, named ‘Big Sid’, was warmly welcomed by those connected to both the game and broadcasting alike. Fittingly it was Phil “The Power” Taylor who emerged triumphant in 2013 and claimed the Sid Waddell Trophy upon its debut.
The inaugural PDC championship, in 1994, earned the winner, Dennis “The Menace” Priestly, the princely sum of £16,000. Although this was not to be sniffed at it can hardly be compared to today’s prize.
The total prize fund for that first championship was £64,000, this year’s event will offer £2,500,000. The winner’s cheque will be a cool half a million pounds (£500,000). In many ways this is just the beginning of the rewards for the 2020 champion. Sponsorship and exhibition fees are boosted massively, by having a World Championship on your CV, and qualification for every event, for the next two years, is assured. Most players will value the place in the history books and the holding of the Sid Waddell trophy as equally important, but their families may well benefit more from the financial rewards available. To say the PDC World Championship is worth a million pounds is no exaggeration.
Leighton Rees’s £3000 reward, for the first-ever darts World Championship, suddenly seems a long time ago. Winning the PDC World Darts Championship is now a life-changing matter.
Talking Points: Lakeside 35
The Lakeside Country Club was home to the (WDF affiliated) World Championship from 1986 through to the penultimate BDO event in 2019. The famed, but smaller than you might think, stage hosted The Crafty Cockney, who claimed the first event held there, and all the early era greats. It went on to witness the rise of The Power and The Menace at the dawn of a new age.
Few venues are used as shorthand to describe a champion. Yet, Lakeside winner or champion is accepted code for a branch of darts’ World Champion.
‘The Split’ came in the 1990s and it was Lakeside and the BBC that provided continuity for the remarkable triumph of John Part and the emergence of Raymond Van Barneveld. Whether the Viking raid of Andy Fordham, the surprise wins of David and Klaasen, or the dominance of Martin Adams and Glen Durrant the Lakeside hosted it all.
The dawn of the Women’s event was also witnessed here with the Golden Girl herself, Trina Gulliver, dominating the first era of the female game.
The WDF opted to go ‘Back to the Future’ for their first, non-Covid, year as both governing body and custodians of the World Championships. Many thousands of darts fans will be delighted to return to hallowed ground or even tick off their darts bucket list.
During the pomp of Martin Wolfie Adams the BDO secured a £100,000 first prize for their champion, but, the years of attempting to compete with the commercial behemoth that is the PDC are over.
This year the Lakeside WDF World darts champion receives a check for £50,000. It seems fitting that the prize money, for what could be described as the World Amateur Championship, is large enough to make a substantial difference to the champion’s life or enable a professional career to be attempted, while not risking the financial position of the amateur game.
The Women’s game receives a substantial boost. £25,000 will be available to the winner leaving little doubt about the rapidly increasing popularity and value of Women’s darts.
Money is not everything in darts and another prize may be valued just as highly by the winners of Lakeside 35.
With the original held captive by BDO chairman Des Jacklin, we are not yet privy to the silverware that will be battled over in January 2022. Could a deal have been struck and the venerable cup be handed back to ensure an unbroken line from Eric Bristow through to this year’s champ? Or will the contestants battle to be the first name on a brand new trophy that may become as familiar to darts fans across the globe?
As important as the physical trophy is a place on the honour roll and in the history books. It is no small matter to be included on a list that features John and Jockey, Beaton and Burnett, or Gulliver and Suzuki. The lineage of World Champions stretches from Leighton Rees to Wayne Warren and is recorded and celebrated worldwide. Whatever is presented to the winner on the day matters little compared to that fact.
Talking Points proved so popular that it is now the opening section of every issue of Darts World Extra:
Darts World Magazine (Issue 580) and fantastic value bundle offers:
Subscribe or purchase your copy