Tag Archives: bristow

I"m a Celebrity: Eric Bristow"s arrows at Helen Flanagan put darts legend in line for the chop – Edge of the Box

Bristow's arrows at Helen and co put darts legend in line for the chop

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UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 23 November 2012

Is it me, or has it all got just a little bit genteel in the jungle since it hasn’t been 'The Helen Show' Suddenly, I find myself hankering for the drama and the histrionics surrounding her and the bushtucker trials.

Instead, we have the plucky and straightforward Pussy Cat Doll Ashley nailing her task and winning the camp a Thanksgiving feast, no fuss, no bother.

Mind you, even though she wasn’t the main attraction, Helen still managed to get herself involved and generate a thin lather of soap opera by nicking Ashley’s clean towel when the poor girl returned to the camp coated in goo.

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

So as she nipped off for a well earned shower, Helen was left to complete a task she’d never done before, which was to clean a towel – a task she told the gathered throng, she normally outsources. Which caused David Haye to cry in consternation ‘who sends a towel to the dry cleaners!’.

Of course the whole point of the jungle is to bring together a whole bunch of opposites and see what fits, and what rubs up against each other.

If you want that kind of contrast, look no further than Eric and Hugo walking off into the trees together to listen to records. With treats at stake, the pair had to find numbers hidden in songs they played on a wind up gramophone.

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

The music selection totally dumbfounded the young Old Harrovian, but Eric new them all! ‘This was No 1’, he told his posh (Mister Bristow’s word) partner as he sang along to ‘Shaddup You Face’. ‘It was late eighties…loads of c**p records were No 1 then’, before going on to explain the subtle intricacies of ‘The Birdie Song’ .

If Danny Baker ever needs a break from his forthcoming BBC 4 music programme, we’ve got his replacement right here.

Eric was actually in a chirpier mood than he had appeared to be in the last couple of days. He’d recently had a pop at Helen, and last night it was Rosemary’s turn. Yet he remains defiant. ‘I keep taking the mickey’, he told us from the diary room, ‘but if you’re easily upset, you shouldn’t be here’.

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Of our trio of sports-connected celebs, I think that ‘take no prisoners’ approach could see Eric the first to take the long walk off a short rope bridge.

But for now, he’s still very much there as it was Limahl – who only turned up, like, two days ago! – proving that, in fact, not all stories are never-ending.

Which means at least Ant, Dec or me don’t get to pun on either of his two hits anymore.

Sid Waddell funeral: Voice of Darts remembered

The 'Voice of Darts' remembered: Stars turn out for Sid Waddell's funeral service

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UPDATED:

15:46 GMT, 22 August 2012

Sports stars including Andrew Flintoff and Eric Bristow gathered for the funeral of the 'voice of darts', Sid Waddell.

Flintoff and Bristow arrived together at the service in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, on Wednesday.

They were followed into the Parish Church by Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling and the chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation, Barry Hearn.

Paying respects: Eric Bristow (left) and Andrew Flintoff

Paying respects: Eric Bristow (left) and Andrew Flintoff

Football commentator John Helm said as
he arrived: 'If we'd had an Olympic games for commentators he would
have won the gold medal so many times.

'He was top of the tree.

'We are here to pay tribute to a colossus of his trade.

'Every time I was with Sid he always made me laugh.

'He was a man with so much eloquence he could stop the world with his commentaries.'

Keith Deller

Jeff Stelling

Friends: Keith Deller and Jeff Stelling and Barry Hearn (below, right)

Order of service

Barry Hearn

Waddell died earlier this month at the age of 72, following a battle against bowel cancer.

He was one of the most recognisable
figures in the sport, famed for his unique one-liners delivered in his
trademark North East accent.

Northumberland-born and a Cambridge graduate, Waddell was a central part of Sky Sports' coverage of PDC darts events since 1994.

He was known for his colourful and
excitable commentary style, with his best-known lines including 'There's
only one word for it – 'magic darts'.'

He also noted, while watching Bristow
become world champion: 'When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried
salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer … Bristow's
only 27.'

The church was packed for the
hour-long service which featured tributes from Hearn, Sky Sports
commentator Dave Lanning and Waddell's son Dan.

There was no coffin brought in as Waddell was cremated at a private service earlier today.

Family: Dan Waddell, left, Sid's son leaves Pusdey Parish Church with Sid's wife Irene

Family: Dan Waddell, left, Sid's son leaves Pusdey Parish Church with Sid's wife Irene

In his eulogy, Hearn talked about the commentator's 'frenetic, Geordie frenzy' style.

He said: 'We wouldn't be where we are
today without his service to the sport. Painting those pictures, those
Picassos, Sid took a pub game and made it a global phenomenon.'

Hearn told the congregation how a new trophy named after Waddell would be presented at the PDC World Championships.

In his tribute, Dan Waddell said: 'To
me he was more like a mate. We could speak about sport. We could speak
about books. We could speak about anything.

'I'll miss those chats. I'll miss my mate.'

Outside there were more tributes to Waddell.

Flintoff described the fun he had joining his friend in the TV commentary box.

He said: 'At home we'd spend hours
watching him entertaining us on TV as well. He was a great man and it
was a fitting tribute today when the theme of the service was all about
his character and how much fun he was. He was just great to be around.

'There's not too many people who can make people smile instantly and spread happiness almost. He'll be sadly missed.'

Voice of darts: The legendary commentator will be remembered

Voice of darts: The legendary commentator will be remembered

Speaking outside, Hearn said: 'He was a very smart guy, a very bright man, but he never lost his love for working-class people.

'He hated snobbery of any type, and darts, to him, was a proper game, a proper sport.

'Who else can call Cliff Lazarenko and Jocky Wilson athletes

'He believed it with a passion and it was his passion that came through.'

He added: 'He was a total one-off and
in the world of sport the word 'legend' is often over-used, but in Sid
Waddell it's an understatement.'

Insight: Waddell offered superb knowledge of darts and spoke with humour

Insight: Waddell offered superb knowledge of darts and spoke with humour

Toon: Geordie Waddell was a Newcastle fan

Waddell conducting an interview

Keith Deller, who won the World
Championship in 1983, said Waddell projected darts worldwide as a sport
in the 1980s when many commentators wrote it off as a game for fat beer
drinkers.

'He was a very intelligent man,' Deller said.

'I think he was a lot more intelligent than the people who were writing against us. He really did give us a lot of credibility.

'He had so much enthusiasm for every game.'

Darts veteran Cliff Lazarenko said: 'I don't think, unfortunately, there'll be anyone else to replace Sid.

'He was, once and for all, one of the greatest commentators for our sport.

'And he was a good friend of the darts players. If he didn't have something kind to say, he didn't say it.

'Sid was Sid and it was always a pleasure to be in his company.'

Broad palate: As well as commentating, Waddell also wrote books

Broad palate: As well as commentating, Waddell also wrote books

Jocky Wilson funeral takes place in Kirkcaldy

Farewell Jocky: Darts world pays its final respects as legend joins the oche in the sky

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UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 2 April 2012

Eric Bristow was among the mourners at Jocky Wilson's funeral. The darts legend was laid to rest in his hometown as final tributes were paid.

Around 400 people, including Eric Bristow, packed Kirkcaldy Crematorium to hear about a 'wonderful and loving' dad whose most important role in life had been to provide for his family.

Goodbye: Floral tributes are laid at Kirkcaldy Crematorium for Jocky Wilson

Goodbye: Floral tributes are laid at Kirkcaldy Crematorium for Jocky Wilson

Favourite: Malvina Wilson speaks with her husband's old rival Eric Bristow

Favourite: Malvina Wilson speaks with her husband's old rival Eric Bristow

His Argentinian-born wife Malvina was also there, along with his three children – daughter Anne Marie and sons John and William.

Darts fan Helen Chamberlain – a presenter on Sky Sports' Soccer AM – was also in attendance.

Among the floral tributes were two dartboards – one with the words 'World Champ 82,89'.

During the service, conducted by
Denis Madden, mourners heard how he would have celebrated his 44th
wedding anniversary next month.

Mr Madden said: 'When it came to the
crunch, what this man's life was all about was his wife, his children
and grandchildren. That's what mattered. He was a lovely, quiet, firm
family man.'

Farewell: The hearse carrying the coffin of the former world champion arrives

Farewell: The hearse carrying the coffin of the former world champion arrives

Respect: Bristow

Respect: Helen Chamberlain

Respect: Bristow and Helen Chamberlain were among those invited to the funeral

He told how the two-time world champion never sought the fame his success brought him after he first picked up darts in a local pub when the team were a player down.

He said: 'He went on to play all over the world. I don't think there's a continent that the man did not play in. But if the truth be told, Jocky Wilson never wanted to become famous or in the spotlight.

'Jocky would be the first to tell you that work in its own right was a means to an end, all he wanted out of it was to provide well for his wife and family.

'Jocky was a wonderful dad. He was full of fun and laughter, and yet I have to say he and Malvina brought their children up well because they have instilled nothing but the best of values, morals and standards in all three of them. He has played a huge part in moulding each one of them into the people that they have become today.'

Wilson would be remembered as a 'wonderful and loving husband, dad, grandad, brother and friend', Mr Madden added.

The coffin was carried into the building to the song Impossible Dream as mourners flooded in behind.
Many were left to stand outside the packed room as the service started by singing the hymn The Old Rugged Cross.

Love: An emotional message from Wilson's daughter

Love: An emotional message from Wilson's daughter

Mr Madden went on to explain how Wilson had suffered with the lung
disorder chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for three-and-a-half
years. He said it was a 'debilitating disease' which had gradually taken his freedom and independence.

He said: 'We are here now today because we know Jocky Wilson was taken
from our lives, slipping away peacefully and quietly in his own home,
just as he would have wanted it: no fuss. One minute Jocky was still with us and in a moment he was peacefully swept away.'

A moment of reflection was held as a section of Frank Sinatra's My Way was played.

Bristow, the six-time world champion, spoke after the service and said
of Wilson: 'He was a character. Every sport needs characters and Jocky
was a big one of ours.

'Twice world champion, representing Scotland, travelling all over the
world wearing the Scottish shirt. So Scotland should be proud of him.
“He's at peace now and he will be missed.”
He added: “He was a great player. You don't win the world championship
twice do you To win it twice you've got to be a proper darts player and
that's what he was.”
end

Wilson died at his home in Scotland last
month at the age of 62 after suffering from with a lung disorder. The
Scotsman was rarely seen in public having retired from the sport in
1996.

Legend: The Order of Service sheet

Laid to rest: The coffin is carried into the crematorium

Wilson turned professional in 1979 and enjoyed a stellar career through to his retirement in 1996.

He
reached at least the quarter-finals of every World Championship between
1979 and 1991 and was a four-time British champion between 1981 and
1988 and a three-time Scottish Masters champion.

Wilson's career saw him challenge Englishman Eric Bristow and John Lowe for the sport's major honours before his retirement.

His first victory in the World Championship came in 1982 when he beat Lowe 5-3 in the final.

Seven years later, he beat his other great rival Bristow 6-4, in a match where the 'Crafty Cockney' had recovered from 5-0 down to find himself at 5-4 and 2-2 in the tenth set.

He was also a founding member of the Professional Darts Corporation, established in 1993.

Darts legend Jocky Wilson dies at 62

Farewell Jocky of the oche: Darts mourns the loss of two-time world champion Wilson

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UPDATED:

22:08 GMT, 25 March 2012

Jocky. Those who transcend sport and life require just one name. If they are loved by all, their Christian name suffices.

So it was with a wee man from Kirkcaldy who came to symbolise darts and stand as a 1980s beacon of endearing simplicity.

Darts was in its terrestrial television heyday and Jocky Wilson was one of the holy trinity alongside Eric Bristow and John Lowe. Bristow won more world titles — five to his Scottish rival’s two (in 1982 and 1989) — but Jocky won more hearts.

VIDEO: Scroll down to see footage of Wilson's two world titles

Champion: Jocky Wilson, who won two world titles, has died aged 62

Champion: Jocky Wilson, who won two world titles, has died aged 62

After all, not only did he represent every ordinary bloke who toed the oche in a pub over a pint, he couldn’t even throw properly, lurching to one side as his arm was flung in the opposite direction. The difference was, when Jock did it, the dart still hit its target.

‘He would need double top with his last dart,’ Bristow recalled yesterday, smiling. ‘I wouldn’t look at the dart board, I’d just watch him. He’d jump with his last dart and in that split second I’d think “I’ve got another shot”.

‘Then you’d hear the announcer shout “Game” and you’d look up and it was right in the middle of double top. That was Jocky. The first five sets he took off me in the 1989 World Championship final, he could have thrown them over his shoulder and hit a 180.’

Jocky Wilson

Jocky Wilson

Popular: Wilson entered the sport as its appeal with the public began to grow

And unorthodox. When the pair played each other at the World Team Cup in Livingston, Jocky resorted to odd tactics.

Bristow added: ‘He kicked me before we went on stage. Took about four inches of skin off my shin. Luckily, the England team wore red trousers so even though my leg was bleeding, nobody could see it. Then I had to hobble on stage, shake his hand and play him. He won. We had a drink after. I said “What was all that about” He said “I’ve got to try to beat you somehow”.’

Born in Kirkcaldy, where he died on Saturday night aged 62, Wilson began his working life as a miner. He had a weakness for sweets and rarely brushed his teeth because his grandmother told him ‘the English poison the water’. /03/25/article-2120039-1253107B000005DC-651_468x337.jpg” width=”468″ height=”337″ alt=”Legends: Wilson with fellow darts player Bobby George (right)” class=”blkBorder” />

Legends: Wilson with fellow darts player Bobby George (right)

Fifteen-time world champion Phil Taylor said: ‘Jocky had false teeth. I remember playing snooker with him. He asked someone to clean the white ball and took his teeth out to mark the ball with a great little grin on his face. His smile will stay with me forever.’

When his toothless grin beamed out as a backdrop to Dexys Midnight Runners on Top of the Pops as they performed Jackie Wilson Said no-one had to be told his name. We all knew and we all laughed along.

It is a smile which had not been seen by the world, save for his wife Malvina, since 1996 when he suddenly walked away from darts.

Glory: Wilson twice won the world title

Jocky Wilson

Back in the day: Wilson returned to his home town after retiring from the sport

‘At that time, it was generally accepted among the players that they needed a drink to feel comfortable,’ said Tommy Cox, Jocky’s former manager.

‘Although he never drank away from darts, Jocky did on stage. When he was diagnosed with diabetes, he couldn’t drink. He’d have three pints and he’d be sick for three days. He battled on for six months drinking water at events but he was a shadow of himself. He was embarrassed. He walked away and didn’t tell anyone, not even me.’

Wilson retreated to the Kirkcaldy estate on which he was raised — a recluse who, it is believed, never set foot outside his flat again. For Bristow, his passing was a release.

‘It was sad but it’s nice to see him out of his misery. I’ve been smiling all morning. Mind you, the little sod’s always cost me money and he will now because I’ve got to go out and have a drink for him, haven’t I’

Farewell, Jocky.

Wilson v John Lowe – 1982 Embassy Final

Wilson v Eric Bristow – 1989 Embassy Final

SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Dexy's Midnight Runners famously used a picture of Jocky during a Top of the Pops performance of their hit song Jackie Wilson Said

Administrators confirm Craig Whyte used 24m season ticket money to pay bank

Rangers administrators confirm Whyte used 24m season ticket deal to pay off bank

By
Sportsmail Reporter

Last updated at 5:47 PM on 21st February 2012

Administrators have confirmed that money from the Ticketus deal was used by Rangers owner Craig Whyte to complete his takeover of the club.

Sportsmail revealed
Whyte convinced Ticketus to advance him 24.4million on the proviso
that he would then buy Rangers.

That cash was deposited into a client
account with his London-based lawyer Collyer Bristow on April 7.

According to a statement from the administrators released today, the cash was used by Whyte to pay the club’s 18million debt to Lloyds Banking Group when he completed his takeover last May.

Question marks: Craig Whyte financial dealings are under scrutiny

Question marks: Craig Whyte financial dealings are under scrutiny

David Whitehouse, joint
administrator, said: 'Since being appointed administrators last week
there has been widespread concern raised with us, not least by Rangers
supporters and season ticket holders, about the agreement between the
club and Ticketus.

'Following information received, it
is now apparent that the proceeds from the Ticketus arrangements
amounted initially to a sum in the region of 20 million plus VAT.

'Subsequently, 18 million was transferred to the Lloyds Banking Group.'

The statement from the administrators
continued: 'The application of the remainder of these proceeds is
subject to further examination.

Uncertain future: Rangers fans show their support for their crisis club

Uncertain future: Rangers fans show their support for their crisis club

'We are now investigating all the
circumstances surrounding both the purchase of the majority shareholding
in Rangers Football Club plc and the flow of funds which stemmed from
the transaction and were intended to fulfil the purchasers’ obligations
at the time of the sale.

'We cannot comment further on these matters while enquiries continue.'

Whyte – who has revealed he will not
continue as Rangers chairman post-restructuring – said of the Ticketus
deal: 'The arrangement with Ticketus – which was a three-season deal not
four, as has been reported – was originally to provide additional
working capital as had been the case previously under the old board.

'My corporate advisors came to me
with the proposition that it was entirely possible, as well as highly
beneficial, to negotiate a deal with Ticketus that would allow us to
complete the takeover and maximise working capital for the club’s
day-to-day business.

Tough times: Manager Ally McCoist has backed calls for a full investigation

Tough times: Manager Ally McCoist has backed calls for a full investigation

'The Ticketus deal was by far the
best way to protect the club given the circumstances in that they have
no security over any assets.

'The only person at risk from the
deal is me personally because I gave Ticketus personal and corporate
guarantees underwriting their investment; the club and the fans are
fully protected.

'In terms of exposure, I am personally on the line for 27.5 million in guarantees and cash.

'By any stretch of the imagination
that is a very substantial commitment to the football club of which I
have been a supporter since I was a boy and dearly wish to see through
this crisis so that Rangers emerge as a financially fitter and stronger
institution.

'I am the biggest stake-holder in
Rangers and I face huge financial losses personally if the restructuring
fails or is not allowed to proceed.'

Craig Whyte used 24m season ticket money to pay bank

Money for nothing: Whyte used 24m season ticket deal to pay off bank

Craig Whyte sold off four years of Rangers season tickets — one month before he bought the club.

The embattled owner flogged the seats to London-based Ticketus to fund his entire takeover last April — four weeks before he persuaded Sir David Murray to sell up for just 1.

Sportsmail can reveal Whyte convinced Ticketus to advance him 24.4million on the proviso that he would then buy Rangers. That cash was deposited into a client account with his London-based lawyer Collyer Bristow on April 7.

Question marks: Craig Whyte financial dealings are under scrutiny

Question marks: Craig Whyte financial dealings are under scrutiny

Whyte then showed Murray that balance as evidence he had sufficient funds to give Lloyds Bank the 18m they were owed — one of the key conditions of the sale.

He then bought Murray’s 85.3 per cent shareholding for 1 on May 6, paid off Lloyds and used Rangers employees’ personal tax — which should have been handed over to HMRC — to help run the club. Until it ran out and forced administration eight days ago, that is.

Had Murray refused to sell to him, Whyte would have returned the money to Ticketus — a gamble he was prepared to take.

The latest revelation means that Whyte, who stayed away from the first post-administration game against Kilmarnock on Saturday, effectively bought into the club for nothing before installing himself as the ‘preferred creditor’.

It is widely assumed he will never attend another game at Ibrox and there are now questions marks over that ‘preferred creditor’ status.

Strathclyde Police are examining files pertaining to Whyte’s nine-month tenure, which were handed to them by former chairman Alastair Johnston.
The SFA have also launched a full inquiry into Rangers in a move that was welcomed by manager Ally McCoist at the weekend.

Uncertain future: Rangers fans show their support for their crisis club

Uncertain future: Rangers fans show their support for their crisis club

The ruling body claim to have been hampered in their efforts to establish if Whyte fulfils the ‘fit and proper person’ criteria.

Rangers are now 17 points behind Celtic in the SPL after receiving an automatic 10-point deduction.

The Ibrox club plunged into administration last Monday and, three days later, the administrators revealed they had ‘no visibility’ of the Ticketus money in the football club’s account.

The announcement came despite Whyte previously insisting that ‘every penny’ of the money had gone into the running of the club. Two weeks ago, the embattled owner also claimed to have sunk 33m of his own money into the club.

It emerged that lawyers Collyer Bristow had handed ‘significant information’ which provided ‘some visibility’ on the whereabouts of some of the cash.

An 18m payment was made from the account to Lloyds on May 9 — three days after the takeover went through, but it is still unclear where the remaining 6.4m is.

Exactly how much of the 6m proceeds from the sale of Nikica Jelavic to Everton landed in the club’s account is also unknown.

Last Thursday, joint administrator Paul Clark said: ‘Some of it is deferred. Some of the funds appear to have gone into the club — but we need to go through the detail.’

Tough times: Manager Ally McCoist has backed calls for a full investigation

Tough times: Manager Ally McCoist has backed calls for a full investigation

There is also a question mark over what security Ticketus now hold for their part in the April deal. Were Rangers to be liquidated, the firm would have no obvious means of re-selling the seats they have bought between now and 2015.

Financial experts believe it is inconceivable that they would have agreed to advance such a huge sum without a safety net.

Whyte’s credibility among the Rangers support is at an all-time low. When news of imminent administration broke last Monday, he initially said he had been left with no alternative due to the so-called ‘big tax bill’ which the embattled owner claimed could cost the club 75m.

However, when the application was heard in the Court of Session, that story was exposed as a fallacy. The real reason the club had been forced into administration was down to the fact that 9m in VAT and PAYE had been unpaid. Duff & Phelps believed that this had been used for the day-to-day running of the club.

Just a week before administration, Whyte’s evidence was called ‘wholly unreliable’ by a sheriff after a civil case.

As players and staff at the 140-year-old club brace themselves for job cuts on Tuesday, the whereabouts of the 41-year-old Motherwell-born businessman were last night unknown.

He avoided the Kilmarnock match, claiming he was ‘taking a backwards step’.

Martin Adams cruises through to BDO World Championship second round

Defending champion Adams cruises through to second round at Lakeside

Two-time defending champion Martin Adams eased through to the second round of the BDO World Championship on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Scott Mitchell.

The 55-year-old top seed, who is looking to match Eric Bristow's record of three successive triumphs and is also seeking his fourth Lakeside crown overall having first been victorious in 2007, overcame a few scares before beating his fellow Englishman in just 26 minutes.

Defending champ: Martin Adams is through to the second round

Defending champ: Martin Adams is through to the second round

Adams said on www.dartswdf.com: 'I had some shaky moments. No one likes to play the first round but you have to do it. I had big finishes when I needed them.'

In what is his record-breaking 19th appearance at the event, Adams will now face Gary Stone in the next round after the Scottish qualifier knocked out Dutch 16th seed Ron Meulenkamp 3-0.

Eighth seed Tony O'Shea, the 2009 runner-up, also enjoyed a 3-0 whitewash on Saturday as he saw off Steve West, and he will next face number nine Ross Montgomery, a 3-1 victor over Fabian Roosenbrand.

Montgomery said: 'I will need to sharpen up my doubles for my next match with Tony (O' Shea) or he will punish me.'

Darts undergoes transformation as PDC World Championship begins

From beer money to 5million bullseye! Darts goes cash crazy as PDC World Championship begins

Whoever would have thought that toeing the oche and chucking a few arrows at a dartboard could make you a millionaire

Time was when players like Leighton Rees, the first world champion in 1978, earned more by playing money matches down their local club than they did in national competitions.

A few handshakes, a few more pints of beer and a couple of quid in the back pocket were deemed a right royal reward by men who were happy just playing in the pub.

Rich pickings: Champion Adrian Lewis had a bumper pay day in an event full of Christmas glamour

Rich pickings: Champion Adrian Lewis had a bumper pay day in an event full of Christmas glamour

Even when the likes of Eric Bristow, John Lowe and Jocky Wilson enjoyed the 1980s terrestrial television heyday, fame far outstripped fortune.

Welcome to the new sporting gentry. As the Ally Pally throws open its doors to herald the seasonal opening of a latter-day Christmas tradition — the Ladbrokes PDC World Darts Championship — those stepping up on stage to the strains of all manner of walk-on anthems now earn more than the majority of the fans bellowingtheir support.

Total prize money on the PDC tour stands at 5million a year. Back in 1993 when the world’s leading 16 players set up the organisation to arrest the decline being presided over by the sport’s governing body, the BDO, they were lucky to share 100,000 between them in 12 months.

Itmeans they need be electricians, publicans and tree fellers no more. Well, not unless they want to be — like Mark Webster. A semi-finalist for the past two years, the 28-year-old Welshman still works part-time as a gas-registered plumber in Denbigh. While money is the only thing most of his competitors would like to smell in their day jobs, Webster finds unblocking drains and pipes rewarding.

Almost giving up the day job: 2008 BDO champion Mark Webster remains a plumber

Almost giving up the day job: 2008 BDO champion Mark Webster is still a practising plumber

‘I don’t work as frequently now, maybe four or five days a month, but it’s a nice distraction,’ Webster said. ‘When you’re having a bad time on the dart board, as I did for a few months this year, it can stress you out. Doing the plumbing makes me forget about the darts.

‘I’ve been quite comfortable this year with my darts earnings, but I always tell myself there is something to fall back on. That helps.’

Webster, the 2008 BDO world champion, appreciates the financial struggles others have fought in order to give darts its nouveau-riche status.

One of those is fellow Welshman and another BDO champion Richie Burnett, whose chronic decline in form in the years which followed his 1995 success ultimately led him to the dole queue. The two men face each other in the pick of the first-round matches.

Getting in the spirit: The event last year was full of Christmas glamour

Getting in the spirit: The event last year was full of Christmas glamour

Webster said: ‘I remember Dennis Priestley telling me how in the first world championship after they broke from the BDO, they struggled to get 24 players. The prize money was quite low then, but the gamble paid off because the money in the PDC is unreal now. I’m one of the lucky ones. I came into the sport at the right time.

‘It’s great at the minute. The viewing figures say that, apart from Premier League football, darts gets the best viewing figures on Sky. You can’t ignore that. Hopefully it will keep going and going.’

Webster will be privately thankful he is in the bottom half of the draw — the one without Phil Taylor in it. His main rivals for a place in the final for the first time appear to be the enigmatic James Wade and defending champion Adrian Lewis, who has rarely repeated the form which saw him throw a perfect nine-dart leg when winning the title 12 months ago.

Darts: Transformed

Taylor, beaten by Webster at the quarter-final stage last year, once again bestrides the event. Only once since his first world title in 1990 has he gone more than a year without recapturing his crown.

His 15 world titles during that span will never be matched but, even at the age of 51, he is still favourite to add to that tally in the darting fiesta which takes in Christmas and the New Year before the winner walks away with another 200,000.