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Dart Facts and Myths - Not all you read is true!




The internet is a great thing hence why you are here! However, not all you read is the internet is correct and not all you read in papers, magazines and in some cases, books is not all correct!

When it comes to darts there is loads of information available to you. But what is true and what is false. Are people trying to deliberately mislead you or is it the case they have copied a non-truth, misread something and rewritten it in the wrong context? Most people have good intentions; however, writers sometimes deliberately write into some of their scripts a few not so correct bits so anyone copying their work can easily be identified. This doesn’t just apply to darts but to lots of written work. So, any budding scholar out there be warned!



Judge - Darts

Much has been written about the sport of darts, yet some things you may read are not true, while others, as implausible as they may seem, are true. So, what is true, what is false and what could be considered plausible but not proven?

How well do you know the game or sport of darts?

Listed below are several dart-related questions. Some may know, while others you may have thought you knew, but the answer you may have is wrong, or you may just be curious to know the answer. Whatever the reason, enjoy the topic.


Is darts a game or a recognised sport?

The image of darts can conjure up two fat guys drinking beer with beer guts. So darts is not a sport is it?

Well, this stereotype is a little old hat now. Prize money in the professional game can make a player millionaires! So there is a need to keep fit; otherwise, they won’t stand the pace of the modern game.

Okay, some players still could lose a few pounds generally. Players now recognise that in order to maintain a high level of performance, they need to keep in shape.

Stage lights will take the playing stage over 100 degrees, and players who can’t cope will falter. So I don’t subscribe to it as I know many top players that are incredibly fit, not for throwing darts but for taking other forms of exercise. However, most onlookers will say darts aren’t a sport. However, in March 2005, the ‘game’ of darts was recognised by ‘Sports England’ as a sporting activity. So the answer is Darts is a sport? Yes, it is true!


Dart Players

Did you read Frank, we are now sportsman!

You can throw any length of dart you wish?

Maybe something that you hadn’t considered, but there are indeed rules governing the total overall length of the dart. The dart consists of a point, barrel, stem/shaft and flight. Flight protectors can also be added. However, the total length must not exceed 30.5cm (12 inches). An average dart length is 16 - 18cm.


Did dartboards use to be made from clay?

Surprisingly, this fact is TRUE! 

In 1919, an industrial chemist, Edward (Ted) Leggat, went into business selling a new modelling clay he had invented. The clay was unlike any other on the market then because it had no odour, a selling point Ted would use in the name of the product ‘Nodor’. The modelling clay was like a more common plasticine many will be familiar with today.

In the early 1920s, Ted thought his new ‘Nodor’ clay could be a good material for making dartboards. The dart would easily embed into a clay slab, and the holes they made could easily be rolled out and repaired. In 1923, Nodor marketed their first clay dartboard. However, it wasn’t a great success Ted hoped it would be. Nodor went on to make elm and later sisal bristle dartboards, which are still in production today.


Dartboards made from Pig Bristle or Horsehair?

This is an urban myth!

horse and pigBack to Ted Leggat of the famed Nodor Clay Dartboard. In 1931, Kent publican Frank Dabbs approached Ted with an idea that would revolutionise the dartboard we play on today. Frank suggested a dartboard made from short pieces of rope which would be bound tightly to form the dartboard playing surface. Ted refined Frank's idea and patented a new dartboard along with Frank. The new rope or sisal dartboard was launched and was known as the Nodor Original Bristle dartboard.

The fibre used to make the board was sisal, which comes from the sisal plant. Sisal is mainly used to make rope. But because the word Bristle was used and not sisal, this has led many to believe the fibre had come from pig bristle or horse hair. However, this is a total myth!

Did you know dartboards have also been made from Elm, Poplar and coiled paper!


The weight of a dart should not exceed 50 grams?

This piece of information is true!

This is a reference to steel-tip darts, not the later soft-tip. Dart weights are varied, but the most common weight ranges from 18 to 25 grams. Today, most steel-tip darts sold are made from a tungsten alloy and are relatively thin compared to the now less common brass dart. The weight restriction is purely to protect the dartboard.

Those who play soft-tip darts will know that the weight restriction is much less than the 50 grams set out in steel-tip dart rules. Most soft-tip competitions set a total weight of the darts; that is, the dart point, barrel, stem/shaft, and flight should not exceed 25 grams. Again, this weight restriction is implemented so that the darts do not adversely damage the board. If you play soft-tip, be warmed. Your darts may be weighed, and you will forfeit the game if you breach the weight rule!


Hockey / Oche, Oggy?

Both Hockey and Oche are correct! Oggy is just a Cornish chant! (my bit of fun)

In the 1920s, the throwing distance line or as some call it, the toe line, was called the 'Hockey'. Written evidence in books and dart brochures published during that time until 1981 had references to the throw line as the 'Hockey' line. Notably, the 'News of the World Individual Darts Championships' or as some call it, the NoW Championships, used the word hockey within its rules. At some point during the time of the NoW Championships, either by menace or mishearing, the 'Hockey' was recorded as 'Oche', and the name has stuck ever since.

But why Hockey? This has been a bit more difficult to establish, and many have looked back in the archives (including yours truly!) to find an answer. Some are more plausible than others, and some have no creditworthiness. Because this is a big issue to some, I have written more about the origins of Hockey / Oche, but in short, the word hockey has never been fully established.

References to 'Hockey and Son' Brewery and the throwing distance created by putting beer together end to end has always been a nice theory, but it is untrue. No such Brewery ever existed in the UK.




The dartboard numbering system was invented by Brian Gamlin?

This now seems to be untrue!

A few have tried to fully and defiantly answer this question, and the reference to Brian Gamlin was first published in the Daily Mirror (UK) newspaper in 1979. Gamlin was supposed to have come from Bury, Lancashire, where I have lived for over 30 years. Hence, I am probably best placed to establish if this man existed due to my love of the game sorry sport! Sorry to say I can find no record of him. At one point, I even had the local newspaper involved, 'The Bury Times'. No reference, no descendants, no records. It has been said that Gamlin may have worked within a travelling fair where darts and numerous target boards were used as a means you pay your money, what can you score.

Thomas William Buckle is the most commonly accepted person to have developed the numbering system. Thomas was a wire worker and made dartboards. This reference comes from Darts World Magazine (issue 234). The source in question was William Buckle's son. He said in 1913, his father invented the standard numbering system that is still used today.

But where did the source from Gamlin come from? Apparently, from an ex-pat living in Germany! He answered the question the Daily Mirror published. Several years ago, I contacted the Daily Mirror, but they no longer had any records to view. Read More about the dartboard number system.


A tribute to Brian Gamlin

In 2009, Bury Council, Lancashire, where I have lived since 1993, entered the Royal Horticultural Society ‘Tatton Park’s National Flowerbed Competition’. This event is held every year and is a little like the Chelsea Flower Show. The Theme Bury Council chose was inspired by Brian Gamlin, credited with the modern dartboard numbering sequence. The title of the display is ’A tribute to Brian Gamlin’. But did Gamlin invent the numbering system? See above!




Darts scored on a cribbage scoreboard!

This fact is true!

Many dart references come from other games and sports. Cribbage, a common card game still played regularly in some pubs, offered a handy piece of kit to keep the dart score on! Two pegs placed in holes would show the previous and new scores.




Henry VIII Darts!

Okay, let's try and put the record straight, as it seems many misinterpret this bit of history. In 1530, Anne Boleyn presented Henry VIII with ornamented darts. These jewel-encrusted small throwing spears have nothing to do with the game we call darts. This type of spear was used to kill small game from horseback and not throw at target boards. Although I don't believe this set would have ever been used other than for decorative purposes. I believe these 'spears', although I am not 100% sure, are or were part of an exhibition housed at Hampton Court Palace. (It has been a long time since I have visited the Palace.)


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Royal Wedding Gift

One of the biggest events of the 2011 UK Calendar was the Wedding of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, to Kate Middleton, who became the Duchess of Cambridge at the point of marriage. Like many other royals, the couple requested donations to charity rather than gifts for their wedding. However, they did receive some!

Martin Adams won his third Lakeside World Darts title in 2011, and his England colleague Trina Gulliver won her ninth title that year. After the tournament finished, Martin thought it would be nice to present his winning darts to the Prince and his new wife. Trina was asked if she would also give her darts to the couple, a belated Wedding Present! I am sure the young couple might have had a few more things on their mind. However, presentation boxes were made, and the two sets of darts were sent to the newly married couple.

As many fans will know, any dart player will own more than one set of darts. It's purely for a backup or as a spare. Before the announcement was made and darts sent to the Prince and Princess, I had already received Trina's winning darts as a present. The Prince and Princess received Trina's spare set. I own the darts Trina used to win her ninth World Title.

Before the 2011 Lakeside World Championship started, I asked Trina, a long-time friend, if she would give me her dart if she won the title! She agreed, and I received the darts well before Martin decided to give his winning darts away. Trina's darts at the time differed from those sold by her dart sponsor Winmau. She experimented with the diamond-encrusted grip well before these became available on the market, and you couldn't purchase the darts Trina was using. I proudly have these displayed in my office. Trina now uses a new 90% tungsten alloy dart from the world-famous Winmau Darts Company.




John Lowe MBE achieved the first TV recorded nine-dart leg ? dart

This is true!

Although there are 3,944 possible paths to a perfect 9-dart finish, players tend to only keep to a few possibilities. The most common route is 7 x T20, T19, D12. However, John Lowe, who threw the first televised nine-dart leg against Keith Dellar in the 1984 MFI World Matchplay, went a different route. 7 x T20, T15, D18. The feat had a good cash prize! John Pocketed £102,000 for the 9 Dart leg, and he went on to win the whole event.

Paul Lim hit the first nine-dart finish at the 1990 Embassy World Championship. However, the first-ever live broadcast nine-dart finish was performed by Shaun Greatbatch against Steve Coote in the Final of the Dutch Open on 3rd February 2002, while Phil Taylor also achieved this feat on British television (Sky Sports) during the 2002 World Matchplay.

Try this way for fun! T20, T19, Bullseye, three times!


Dartboard height 5’8”?

For the standard dartboard, this is true, but not for all!

The height of the dartboard is 5’8” (1.73m) to the centre of the bull, although there is no objective evidence to establish why this height was chosen. It is believed that this was the average height of a man during the 1920s, and therefore, this height was used.

Although many a pub I have visited has failed to correct this simple measurement. The Manchester Log-end dartboard is hung lower than the standard dartboard. Maybe the men in Manchester were shorter at the time!



Dartboard Height set at the average height of a man!

"Joe was chosen as the new dartboard height man for all dartboard measurements!"


Hockey / Oche Length

Over the years, many myths have been repeated regarding how the Hockey / Oche length came to be, but why 7’ 9 ¼ “ / 2.73m? It is a weird length, isn’t it? Why not 7’10” or 2.8m? It comes down to standardising the Oche length across the UK and in Europe.

In the UK, several setups were commonly used. However, two of the most prominent were 7’6” and 8’. The News of the World Championships was played at 8’, so why the change?

Before and after the 1939-45 war, a 9ft throw was a popular Hockey (Oche) length. However, that was to change. From 9ft, the throwing distance gradually crept nearer the board until 7ft 6in was the rule for most major competitions in the UK except for the News of The World Completion, which remained at 8ft.

Players from outside the UK were not happy with the 7ft 6in because they felt it was too short, and during a meeting in December 1977 with the World Darts Federation, a compromise was made. The Federation worked in meters, not imperial measurements used in the UK for dartboard setup; 7ft 6in is 2.28 meters, and 8ft is 2.44 meters.

To make an agreed length a compromise was made halfway between the two, but wait a minute, halfway between the two is 7’9”, so where does the extra ¼” come from?

7’ 9” didn’t equate nicely into metric, so the addition of ¼” made the distance fit nicely at 2.37m, hence the standard Oche length of today.




The Crucible of Darts or did I mean Snooker!

Crucible of DartsThe Crucible of Darts! Opened in 1970, Leeds Irish Centre became the social and cultural heart of the city’s Irish Community, but it was the arrival of Yorkshire Television pub game series ‘Indoor League’ in 1973, presented by Fred Trueman, that drew millions of viewers to watch televised darts.

The first series of darts was played on a traditional ‘Yorkshire Dartboard’, a board that doesn’t feature a treble ring or outer Bullseye. Fred Truman would say it was ‘proper darts’ he would coming from Yorkshire! The standard clockboard or London Dartboard soon replaced it in later series.

Dave Lanning and Sid Waddell also feature as commentators and producers.


Bullseye TV Game show

Bronze BullyDid you know the Bullseye TV Gameshow has been on British TV for over 40 years? It was first broadcast in 1981, and repeats are still being broadcast on Challenge TV.

The Bronze Bully harder to win than any other competition?

Jocky Wilson is reported as saying the Bronze Bully was harder to win than an actual Professional Darts Tournament. All dart professionals want to win this unique prize, and only a few can say they have.

The highest nine-dart score during the TV shows is jointly held by Eric Bristow and Mike Gregory, who scored an impressive 380*. However, during the 2011 Bullseye Theatre Tour, Bob Anderson topped the leader table with an incredible 420! Making this the new highest score thrown for the Bronze Bully. The charity for the theatre tour was Help for Heroes, and they received £840.




Keith Dellar hit the first televised 100+ average in competition?

This is true!

The first player to have to achieve a 100-plus average in a televised World Darts Championships was Keith Dellar. In the 1985 BDO World Quarterfinals, Keith Dellar threw the first televised 100+ darts average. Keith averaged 100.29 against John Lowe, who averaged 97.83. However, John won the match, 4 sets to 2.


Why is a score of 26 called bed and breakfast or is it?

Bed and Beakfast 2'6Yes, this is true!

For some reason, darts have more slang and lingo than most sports, and many scores are given names a bit like bingo!

You require 44 (The Four-Tops, Motown), single four double twenty, double twenty, also known as tops, because it is at the top of a standard dartboard. Many of the references are an age thing! The Four Tops were a soul band and recorded with Motown. Do you get the idea?

26, or 2’6s (two shillings and sixpence, old UK money) apparently was the cost for bed and breakfast!


Why is a single, treble and a double called Shanghai?

A score of a single, double and triple in the same number. "Shanghai" sometimes refers to a checkout of 120 (single, treble and double 20). In some games, this is an automatic win, i.e. in a game of Shanghai.

Many terms used in darts come from common references used at the time, so with Shanghai, I believe the term came from the card game 'Rummy Shanghai'. There are many variants of 'Rummy', and its own history can be as intriguing as the sport of darts. There are references to Spain and China for this game, and Rummy, along with Cribbage and Twist, would have been common card games played at home and in pubs in the early days of darts.

The objective in 'Shanghai Rummy', the card game, is to get three of a kind or three sets of three cards. Although this explanation is plausible due to the fact a cribbage board was used as an early scoring device for darts, then 301 games. It doesn't explain why 'Shanghai'.

I believe the reason why Shanghai may be used is that Shanghai is divided into three counties and 16 districts. The three counties are Fengxian, Nanhui and Chongming. The 16 districts are Hangpu, generally considered the centre, Luwan, Changning, Putuo, Hongkou, Minhang, Jiading, Jinshan, Songjiang, Qingpu, Nanshi, Xuhui, Jing'an, Zhabei, Yangpu, Baoshan, and Pudong New Area.

So, Shanghai has three counties, three of a kind, and three within the same region. Well, I believe this may explain the three, and the dart term likely came from a card game rather than a direct link to Shanghai itself.

I have more dart terms on Darts501.com





A strange name for a dartboard manufacturer, wouldn’t you think?

The name ’Winmau’ isn’t a name you would generally find in the dictionary, but what does it mean or have any meaning at all?

Could it be a play on win more? But then, indeed, the name might have been Winmor[e]. The truth behind the name is not far from the ‘win more’ example because it is a portmanteau word. (two words put together to make one that means both, apparently)

Winmau was founded in 1946 by Harry Kicks, who named the company after his wife, Winifred Maud. Pronounced “Winmore”





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