Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Billy on the Box: Crafty Cockneys secure Rich pickings

Barry Hearn took a phone call recently from Sky chiefs who had looked at the sporting schedule and noticed that other than the FA Cup it was a quiet weekend.

“Do you have any old rubbish that we can stick on, it doesn’t matter if it’s real, just as long as we can hype it up a bit, play some loud music and blind everyone with flashing lights,” they said.

“I’ve got just the thing,” he replied, as he pushed a broom around the Alexandra Palace with the whiff of stale beer in the air and discarded fancy dress costumes still being found after the darts at the same venue. Hence the World Ping Pong Championships were born. Not table tennis, Ping Pong. The difference? The bat is either cushioned or covered in sandpaper, a dilemma usually only reserved for sado-masochists.

A bit like the World Darts Championships (yes, another one), but this is the not very good one, although does come from the Lakeside, still the true home of darts, even if it is occupied by Colin Murray and Bobby George. Although not as much as before as the bulk of the live coverage is now on ESPN, with the Beeb, like an errant father, only granted access at weekends.

And parental guidance was the order of the day on Saturday as Bobby’s wee lad, Richie, took to the oche to play his first match and the boy George done good.

The action off stage was much better than on it, his mum, Marie, going through agony, while expectant father Bobby paced up and down on a balcony over-looking the action.

A balcony hasn’t seen such tension since the SAS hit the Iranian Embassy in 1980 — funnily enough the same year as Bobby got to the final and lost to Eric Bristow.

But this time there was a happy ending as George Jnr prevailed against Dave ‘The Badger’ Prins, or as Colin proclaimed: “It looked like the Badger was set but he missed his doubles and Richie Rich cashed in.”

I wonder if the SAS would consider another balcony job?

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