Darts is fast becoming one of the most popular sports forfans across the world to feel involved with and to enjoy attending the livematches. The convivial spirit and banter is part of the game and generally addsto the atmosphere at the events. There have been one or two unsavoury moments downthe years, no doubt somewhat fuelled by an excess of alcohol, when a particularplayer has drawn the wrath of the supporters watching on and it has no doubtaffected their performance on stage after being heckled in play. The majorevents at the Alexandra Palace and the Lakeside for the PDC and BDO darting organisationsare televised, with viewers no doubt being amused by the variety of fancy dressoutfits and the usually witty messages that the crowds at those venues hold upto pass on to their nearest and dearest, reflecting the family spirit that thesport seems to encourage.

Alcohol is allowed to be drunk at such events,although the players no longer drink on stage as was typical in the past, areflection of the roots of the sport in the pubs and clubs across the country. 

It was unusual therefore to hear yesterday about the riotthat erupted in Melbourne, Australia, during a darts tournament involving theworld number one player, Michael van Gerwen and the former world finalist (andAustralian) Simon Whitlock. The arena holds some 56,000 fans when at itscapacity and is located in the Melbourne Dockland area. The disruption causedtheir game to be stopped at the Etihad Stadium while the riot was progressing,as fancy dressed (so-called) fans fought and threw the assembled tables and chairsaround the arena. 

Much to the bemusement of Dutchman ‘Mighty Mike’ and “TheWizard’, amid surreal scenes that in another place and time may have actually beenfunny, security guards tried their best to calm the boisterous crowd down.Images recorded showed caped crusader-assistant Robin battling with a man dressedas an English knight, while elsewhere Hawaiian-shirted men and what looked likesome Oompa Loompas were involved in throwing their seats around.

It took thePolice to end the riot by which time the area where the crowd were sitting hadbeen almost completely wrecked. 

The match was eventually able to resume, with van Gerwentaking the victory 9-8 against the local favourite, but by that time the resulthad become something of a side issue. 

The fans are an integral part of ensuring that the sportprogresses and reaches out to a wider audience but they need to show somedecorum when attending the events.

Indeed, the extension of the game thattypically used to feature mainly players from the British Isles in the majorevent such as the world championships, is bound to experience setbacks alongthe way. Let us hope that this shocking event was a one-off and that moredraconian measures are not enforced to mitigate against potential future issuesin the sport, perhaps by outlawing alcohol consumption within the arenas wherethe matches are being played.

It is also to be hoped that the elements ofsociety that seem to relish such behaviour and disruption at sporting eventshave not found a new home within darts. 

Darts player Kevin Painter from England has typicallywalked out to play his matches with the song “I Predict A Riot”, by the groupthe Kaiser Chiefs, playing in the background in the past. One wonders if thedebacle in Australia may cause him to reconsider that choice of music infuture.