...and on Sunday, I was!
I'm a darts lover and have been since I was a child. For me, New Year since I was a child has always meant watching the World's Strongest Man competition, the New Year's Day Concert from Vienna on Radio 3 and BBC2 and the BDO World Darts Championshiop live on the BBC, from the Lakeside complex at Frimley Green. All of which I would do with my father.
A Childhood Love of Darts
PDC Vs BDO
Nowadays, particularly since 'Barney' jumped ship some 5 years ago to join the PDC, even I, a die-hard BDO man has to admit that the future lies with the PDC. For better or for worse, Sky cash has generated big viewing figures and as a result, big money pots for their tournaments.
But the friction between the two camps remains and for as long as the BBC is willing to pay the BDO television rights for its main World Championship, I expect the divide to remain.
The Lakeside - The 'Home of Darts'
But until then, I keep a keen eye out on both. I will probably cave in later this year to buying in Sky so that I can watch more live sports and when that happens, my interest in the PDC will increase. But that will not deter me from keeping a loving eye on the old BDO.
Because it's with the BDO, it's heritage and it's long-standing BBC following that I grew up and for which I hold much admiration and respect.
Without hesitation, the group of us who attended last year, decided that we'd do the same this year. Though 2 of the 6 were unable to make it this time round, we easily filled their places - including with my old school friend and many time oche sparring partner Luke Rowland.
Being better prepared this time round, we bought our tickets earlier and therefore got a much better table. When we arrived, again on the opening Sunday the day before last, it was again like reuniting with an old friend. Our table was right in the centre of the room with a much better view of the proceedings. Good darts!
Whilst it's hard to argue against the fact that the real darts quality now lies in the PDC, the atmosphere in the Lakeside is still second-to-none. The tension from the game-play also reaches incredible heights. Last year, despite watching 6 first-round men's singles matches and 2 women's quarter-final matches, not one went to a final set. Well this year, we had 3 out of 8 going all the way! The highlight had to be the opening match between 4th seed Steve West and 2010 runner-up Dave 'Chizzy' Chisnall which went to the decider and saw 'Chizzy' come back from 0-2 down in that decider to win the final set and match 4-2! Talk about tension! The roof was raised many a time in that tense encounter and later on throughout the day as well!
It was a great day out and we even finished it with some legs of darts of our own in the next door bar within the Lakeside complex. I won 2 and lost 2 301 legs so I was pleased to have hit a couple of doubles myself at the 'Home of Darts'!
Will I be back for a hat-trick of appearances next year? Undoubtedly! In fairness, I'm also musing over the thought of checking the PDC out at the 'Ally Pally'.
But really, when it comes to darts, there's only one place I'd rather be...down at the Lakeside!