Media Matters: For Your Shelf

Red Dragon Darts

So far in ‘Media Matters’, I have focused predominantly on the visual medium of television. But this is of course not the only aspect which deserves coverage.

The shortlists for the 2023 Sunday Times Sports Book Awards were recently announced. There are many great reads across the seventy-plus nominated, which includes Barry Hearn’s autobiography, previously reviewed by myself for Darts World.

But beyond this, the world of the oche escapes mention. What better way to redress that omission than make a shortlist of my own.

With Father’s Day fast approaching and Christmas or birthdays never far away, it might be a good opportunity to grab a pen and make a note of some potentially excellent gifts.

Three books would be easily vying for my imaginary crown. Sid Waddell’s Bellies and Bullseyes is the perfect encapsulation of the sport’s modern history. Published back in 2007, it is packed with Sid’s characteristic wit and charm which would surely amuse even the most disinterested observer of the sport.

In a similar league are Ned Boulting’s Heart of Dart-ness and Justin Irwin’s Murder on the Darts Board.

As the name suggests, Heart of Dart-ness takes some inspiration from Joseph Conrad’s classic literary work Heart of Darkness. This legendary tome offers a compass for Boulting as he attempts to navigate through what makes the sport so special.

I have read a number of Ned’s books across a number of sports, but this one could just be my favourite: richly written, entertaining and finely observed.

Irwin’s veers slightly from the first two in its focus on a very specific matter: namely, Justin’s year of attempting to become a professional player. It’s an eye-catching story, the recollection of which does not disappoint. Whether or not it would persuade readers to make a similar leap into the unknown is not quite so certain.

Beyond the leading contenders, there are of course a panoply of darts autobiographies and biographies to take your choosing from. The Power, from Phil Taylor and co-written by Waddell, and Eric Bristow’s are worth a mention.

Another you definitely need on your bookshelf is Patrick Chaplin’s. An essential work for those interested in the game’s humble beginnings.

Also meriting inclusion is Dan Waddell’s (son of Sid) take on his father’s remarkable life. We Had Some Laughs is a deeply moving and fascinating insight from someone who knew the game’s most famous commentator better than most.

What would make your list?


Originally published in Darts World Magazine (Issue 583)

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