Sky Sports Football’s finest trade the football stadium for the Alexandra Palace on Day 10 of the 2020 World Darts Championship
By Geoff Shreeves at Alexandra Palace
Last Updated: 23/12/19 1:46pm
Graeme Souness is the same person now as he was as a player – cultured, stylish, takes no-nonsense. He drinks fine wine and dresses elegantly too! All of which made him the ideal chaperone to accompany to the World Darts Championship, writes Geoff Shreeves…
“Geoffrey, pray tell, what exactly you have got me into?” asked Graeme with a sense of foreboding as we approached the Ally Pally. It was, in fact, a coded warning. I was in deep trouble if our first trip to the darts did not go well.He got his answer within 30 seconds of walking through the door, when a middle-aged chap dressed as a caveman in a long blonde wig started bowing down before him. As soon as we took our seats, the crowd was onto him. They warmed up gently, with a song that suggested Gary Neville was comfortably the better of the two pundits. Graeme waved, smiled and took a sip of his lager. Big mistake. ‘Souness, down your pint, Souness, Souness down your pint’, the baying crowd chanted in unison.Just like in his playing days, Souey assessed his tormentor-in-chief coldly but, instead of seeing a fellow steely-eyed pro up for a fight, his gaze fell upon imitations of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, 10 green bottles, a group of nuns and several bananas.Challenge done, pint duly downed. Of course, they immediately insisted I do the same, which was fair enough. And in a nutshell, there you have the phenomenon that is the darts. 0:54 A recap of all the action from Sunday’s evening session at the World Darts Championship A recap of all the action from Sunday’s evening session at the World Darts Championship We were immediately welcomed into this raucous, gloriously bonkers family, whose sole intent is to have a good time.It would be an easy mistake to make to think the actual darts didn’t matter, but therein lies the beauty of this wonderful event. Every arrow is scrutinised, every shot jeered or booed, and crowd engagement from those players is not just encouraged, it’s demanded.Graeme, who knows a thing or two about winning, observed: “It takes some ability to perform in front of this lot. Ricky Evans was knocked out of the World Darts Championship by Michael van Gerwen on Sunday “When Ricky Evans missed three checkouts, the atmosphere was incredible – yet he had to collect himself and go again. That takes some doing.”So what if history had been different and Graeme, instead of strutting his stuff on the world football stage, had chosen the oche instead?”Name wise, I would have gone for Assassino,” he added. “And walk-on music would have to be ‘Start Me Up’ by The Rolling Stones.” While we wait to see if Souey can replicate the success he enjoyed on the pitch at the oche, one thing that is certain is that he loved the darts.The Ally Pally World Darts experience defies both description and convention. Until you have witnessed it for yourself, it is impossible to appreciate this alcohol-fuelled, joyous, spontaneous, witty, costume pageant of a panto sporting event.