WHEN did darts get this sexy?

What happened to the days when some out of breath fat bloke in an ill-fitting shirt would swagger up to the oche, pint in one hand, fag in the other, throw his arrows through a fog of smoke and be too steaming drunk to play properly by the quarter finals?

It’s certainly gone downhill since the days of Jocky Wilson and Cliff Lazerenko, what with all these slim blokes sipping water in between visits to the board.

It’s finals night and, as nearly always, that means Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Raymond ‘Barney’ van Barneveld. The Dublin arena is packed with fans chanting ‘Barney army’ in favour of the Dutchman, and the Fox on the Box girls lead the lads on, while a group engage in some Riverdancing. Not an opportunity will be missed to let you know this is in Ireland. The crowd carry messages on boards ranging from the simple ‘Green Arrrrmy’ to the simply odd ‘I want to do a poo at Paul’s’. Charming.

On the plus side, Sid Waddell, possibly the greatest sports (can you call darts a sport? Course you can) commentator ever is on the mic. Would any other commentator come up with anything approaching the likes of “he’ll be doing cartwheels down Kensington High Street if he wins this one” or “they’re swinging from the chandeliers and dancing on the tables here at Jolleys”? Then, Sid is the man who penned the classic children’s series Jossy’s Giants, which followed the fortunes of a kids’ football team and which boasted a theme tune that included the line: “If they don’t score then what the heck, they’ll score tonight in the discotheque.” Fantastic.

Anyway, It turns out Barney has had a three month break and taken in some advice about calming himself in the process, which Waddell isn’t going to let him forget, referring to him as the Zen Meister and banging on about zen buddhism at every opportunity.”

It’s all to no avail as The Power, despite trailing two sets to nil emerges as a six-three victor and dedicates his win to Boyzone’s Stephen Gately, who died over the weekend.

At one point during Taylor’s comeback Sid said something along the lines of: “Do you think I would leave you crying when there’s room in my cupboard for another trophy or two?” and commented on “The hunt for Green October”.

Darts truly is the new rock ‘n’ roll. Honestly!