Bobby George

Introduction

Bobby George is one of the world’s most charismatic, entertaining and successful darts players in the history of the sport. His list of titles is extensive despite never having won the World Championship; he is dubbed the King of the Qualifiers! He remains a figurehead of the sport, working as a pundit alongside Ray Stubbs with his own column with the BBC. Since becoming the BBC’s “Face of Darts” he has undertaken various roles on television. He has also appeared in a feature film as well as countless advertising campaigns.

Early Life

Bobby George was born on December 16th 1945, but unlike most sports stars, did not take up the sport until much later in life. He was a keen weightlifter from his teens onwards, showing off to friends by lifting bags of cement one-handed over his head. By his mid-twenties he was an accomplished builder and decorator. He began playing darts at thirty and was soon playing in major competitions. His self-confidence and enthusiasm to make a name for himself shone through, not only in his playing but also in his flamboyant presentation and entrances. He famously begins each match by taking the stage dressed in a cape and crown, with a lit candelabra dangling in his mouth, to the tune of “We are the champions” by Queen.

1970s Darts Career

In 1976 he won his first ever singles competition, the Hainult Super League Singles Event. The following year he reached the quarter-finals of the prestigious Winmau World Masters. His first major title came in 1978, the North American Open. He continued to pick up middle-class titles in the form of the News of the World (NOTW) Championship and the Butlins World Masters in 1979. He was the first and only player to win the NOTW Championship without dropping a single leg of darts.

1980s Darts Career

1980 saw one of Bobby’s first major defeats. Having reached the final of the Embassy World Professional Darts Championship in true style (this being the first time he showcased his now trademark match entrance attire), he played in what is regarded as the greatest final of the tournament. He lost the match after a loose dart fell from the board, making way for a victory by Eric Bristow.

In 1982, Bobby collapsed with a burst spleen during the British Professionals in Middlesbrough and spent five weeks in hospital. He did not let this interrupt his career, however, and he reached the quarter and semi-finals in the following two Embassy World Championships. Bobby enjoyed various important wins at international level. This included avenging his 1980 World Championship defeat to Bristow, by beating him in the EDF Europe Cup Singles Title which he went on to win in 1982. He never really achieved the success that he had hoped for, and despite winning the NOTW Championship again in 1986, opted to play exhibition matches rather than singles tournaments.

1990s Darts Career

In 1993 Bobby returned to tournament darts and reached the semi-final of the Embassy World Championship, after some gruelling matches in the international play-offs. He lost to the eventual champion, John Stoneface Lowe.

Bobby’s most famous match was to come in the 1994 Embassy World Championship. He had reached the semi-final to play Sweden’s Magnus Caris, despite a serious back injury he had picked up in a match against Kevin Kenny earlier in the tournament. He went down 4-2 to Caris, obviously hindered by his back injury. After some urgent medical treatment, and against doctor’s orders, George made a miraculous comeback, winning the final 5-4. His luck, however, did not continue in the final, where he lost. Many believe that this should have been Bobby’s final, and if he had not been forced to wear a metal corset to keep him upright, he would easily have won. The Canadian John Part, the other finalist, hardly outplayed George. Bobby was in a position to check-out 49 times, but was clearly in too much discomfort and unable to keep still enough to hit the required doubles. He took only five and lost as a result.

King of the Qualifiers – His Career Continues

After the 1994 final, Bobby underwent major surgery to save his back, having titanium screws inserted to help him keep it straight. This failed to deter him from competing on the global stage, however. He qualified through the international play-offs to compete in the the final stages of the World Championships in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2002.

Life Beyond Darts

In 1999 Bobby began working on screen for the BBC as a pundit at the World Championships. This was the platform for a new era of his life. He has released numerous darts videos and an autobiography entitled “Bobby Dazzler, My Story”, Bobby Dazzler being one of his many nicknames, which refers to his trademark sovereign rings and gold chains. He reinforced this image by appearing in two British films; “One Man and His Dog” as a gangster named Tony “Butcher” Barton and “Poison Arrows” in which he plays himself. More recently he has made several television appearances, including Celebrity Fit Club and Brainiac.

He currently writes a column for the BBC Website which covers developments in the various championships and relationships between the different darts organizations. He also has a section of the BBC Sports Website dedicated to him entitled the Kingdom of Bobby George. The site contains videos of his warm ups and a chance to listen to his extensive list of famous catchphrases.

He is married to Marie, with whom he has two sons, Robert and Richard. He lives in an 18 bedroom mansion, which he used his building skills to construct himself. The premises are humbly named “George Hall” in Ardleigh, and include three large fishing lakes. George is a keen fisherman himself and the three well stocked lakes on the grounds are open to the public for fishing. The halls are also used for fishing matches and corporate events, both of which are hosted personally by Bobby and his wife. The Hall also features Bobby George’s own Chinese kitchen which he calls “Wok This Way”.

Achievements

  • Twice winner of the News of The World Darts Championship 1979 and 1986
  • All Time Top Ten Winning Darts Players for England
  • Represented England at darts 26 times
  • Oldest player to reach World Championship Final aged 48