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Dart Facts and Myths - Not all you read is true!


The internet is a great thing hence why you are here! However, not all you read is the internet is correct and not all you read in papers, magazines and in some cases, books is not all correct!

When it comes to darts there is loads of information available to you. But what is true and what is false. Are people trying to deliberately mislead you or is it the case they have copied a non-truth, misread something and rewritten it in the wrong context? Most people have good intentions; however, writers sometimes deliberately write into some of their scripts a few not so correct bits so anyone copying their work can easily be identified. This doesn’t just apply to darts but to lots of written work. So, any budding scholar out there be warned!


Judge - Darts

Much has been written about the sport of darts yet some things you may read are not true whiles others, as implausible as they may seem are in fact true. So, what is true what is false and what could be considered plausible but not proven!

How well do you know the game or sport of darts?

Listed below are a number of dart related questions, some you may know while others you may have thought you knew but the answer you may have is wrong or you just maybe just curious to know the answer. Whatever the reason, enjoy the topic.


Is darts a game or a recognised sport?

The image of darts can conjurer up two fat guys drinking beer with beer guts. So darts is not, really a sport is it?

Well, this stereotype is a little old hat now. Prize money in the professional game can make a player's millionaires! So there is a need to keep fit otherwise they won’t stand the pace of the modern game.

Okay, some players still could lose a few pounds generally, players now recognise that in order to maintain a high level of performance they need to keep in shape.

Stage lights will take the playing stage over 100 degrees and players that can’t cope will falter. So this image I don’t subscribe to as I know many top players that are extremely fit, not from throwing darts but for taking other forms of exercise. However, most onlookers will say darts isn’t a sport, however, in March 2005 the ‘game’ of darts was recognised by ‘Sports England’ as a sporting activity. So the answer is Darts is a sport? Is yes it is true!


Dart Players

Did you read Frank, we are now sportsman!

You can throw any length of dart you wish?

Maybe something that you hadn’t considered but there are indeed rules governing the total overall length of the dart. The dart consists of a point, barrel, stem/shaft and flight. Flight protectors can also be added. However, the total length must not exceed 30.5cm (12 inches). An average dart length is 16 - 18cm


Did dartboards use to be made from clay?

Surprisingly, this fact is TRUE! 

In 1919 Edward (Ted) Leggat and industrial chemist went into business selling a new modelling clay he had invented. The clay was unlike any other on the market at the time because it had no odour, a selling point Ted would use in the name of the product ‘Nodor’.  The modelling clay was like a more common plasticine many will be familiar with today.

In the early 1920s, Ted thought his new ‘Nodor’ clay could be a good material for making dartboards. The dart would embed into a clay slab quite easily and the holes it made could easily be rolled out and repaired. In 1923, Nodor marketed their first clay dartboard. However, it wasn’t a great success Ted hoped it would be. Nodor went on to make elm and later sisal bristle dartboards and are still in production today.


Dartboards made from Pig Bristle or Horsehair?

This is an urban myth!

horse and pigBack to Ted Leggat of the famed Nodor Clay Dartboard. In 1931 Frank Dabbs, a Kent publican approached Ted with an idea that would revolutionise the dartboard we play on today. Frank suggested a dartboard made from short pieces of rope which would be bound tightly to form the dartboard playing surface. Ted refined Franks idea and patended a new dartboard along with Frank. The new rope or sisal dartboard was launched and was known as the Nodor Original Bristle dartboard.

The fibre used to make the board was sisal which comes from the sisal plant. Sisal is mainly used to make rope. But because the word Bristle was used and not sisal this has led many to believe the fibre had come from pig bristle or horse hair, however, this is a total myth!

Did you know dartboards have also been made from Elm, Poplar and coiled paper!


The weight of a dart should not exceed 50 grams?

This piece of information is in fact true!

This is a reference to steel-tip darts, not the later soft-tip. Dart weights are varied but the most common weight ranged from 18-25grams. Today most steel-tip dart sold are made from a tungsten alloy and are relatively thin compared to the now less common brass dart. The weight restriction is purely to protect the dartboard.

Those who play soft-tip darts will know that the weight restriction is much less than the 50grams set out in steel-tip dart rules. Most soft-tip competition set a total weight of the darts, that is the dart point, barrel, stem/shaft and flight should not exceed 25 grams. Again, this weight restriction is put in place so that the darts do not adversely damage the board. If you play soft-tip, be warmed your darts may be weighed and if you are in breach of the weight rule you will forfeit the game!


Hockey / Oche, Oggy?

Both Hockey and Oche are correct! Oggy is just a Cornish chant! (my bit of fun)

In the 1920s the throwing distance line or as some call it the toe line was called the ‘Hockey’. Written evidence in books and dart brochures published during that time and up and until 1981 had references to the throw line as the ‘Hockey’ line. Notably, the ‘News of the World Individual Darts Championships’ or as some call it the NoW Championships used the word hockey within its rules. At some point during the time of the NoW Championships, either by menace or mishearing the ‘Hockey’ was recorded as ‘Oche’ and the name has stuck ever since.

But why Hockey? This has been a bit more difficult to establish and many have looked back in the archives (including yours truly!) to find an answer, some are more plausible than others and some have no creditworthiness. Because this is a big issue to some, I have written more about the origins of Hockey / Oche and but in short, the word hockey has never been fully established.

References to 'Hockey and Son' Brewery and the throwing distance being created by putting beer creates end to end has always been a nice theory but it is totally untrue. No such Brewery ever existed in the UK




The dartboard numbering system was invented by Brian Gamlin?

This now seems to be untrue!

There have been a few that have tried to fully and defiantly answer this question and the reference to Brian Gamlin was first published in the Daily Mirror (UK) newspaper in 1979. Gamlin was supposed to have come from Bury, Lancashire, the place I have lived for more than 25 years. Hence to say, due to my love of the game, sorry sport, I am probably best placed to establish if this man existed! Sorry to say I can find no record of him. I even had the local newspaper involved, ‘The Bury Times’ at one point. No reference, no descendants, no records. It has been said that Gamlin may have worked within a travelling fair where darts and numerous target board were used as a means you pay your money what can you score.

The commonly accepted person to have come up with the numbering system is Thomas William Buckle. Thomas was a wire worker and made dartboards. This reference comes from Darts World Magazine (issue 234) the source in question was William Buckles son. He said in 1913 his father was the inventor of the common numbering system still used today.

But where did the source from Gamlin come from? Apparently from an ex-pat living in Germany. He answered the question the Daily Mirror published. Several years ago, I contacted the Daily Mirror but they no longer had any records to view. Read More and the dartboard number system

According to another source, Thomas William Buckle invented the dartboard in 1913. The source in question is his son, Thomas Edward Buckle who made this statement in Darts World Magazine 1992 (issue 234).


A tribute to Brian Gamlin

In 2009 the Council Bury Lancashire, a place I have lived since 1993, entry into Royal Horticultural Society ‘Tatton Park’s National Flowerbed Competition’. This event is held every year and is a little like the Chelsea Flower Show. The Theme Bury Council chose was inspired by Brian Gamlin the man credited with the modern dartboard numbering sequence. The title of the display is ’A tribute to Brian Gamlin’. But did Gamlin invent the numbering system see above!




Darts scored on a cribbage scoreboard!

This fact is true!

Many dart references come from other games and sports. Cribbage a common card game that is still played regularly in some pubs offered a handy piece of kit to keep the dart score on! Two pegs placed in holes would show the previous score and the new score.




Were darts ever banned in English pubs?

Yes, this is true in some areas but there is a common reference to a ban being made because players would bet on the outcome. Some thought darts was a game of chance while others claimed it was pure skill! Although this story cannot be fully accredited, I have included what was said to have happened, when darts was banned! Betting on darts, it will never take on!


John Lowe MBE achieved the first TV recorded nine-dart leg? dart

This is true!

Although there are 3,944 possible paths to a perfect 9 dart finish, players tend to only keep to a few possibilities. The most common route is 7 x T20, T19, D12. However, John Lowe who threw the first televised 9 dart leg against Keith Dellar in the 1984 MFI World Match Play went a different route. 7 x T20, T15, D18. The feat had a good cash prize! John Pocketed £102,000 for the 9 Dart leg and he went on to win the whole event.

Paul Lim hit the first nine dart finish at the 1990 Embassy World Championship. However the first ever live broadcast nine dart finish was performed by Shaun Greatbatch against Steve Coote in the Final of the Dutch Open on 3rd February 2002, while Phil Taylor also achieved this feat British television (Sky Sports) during the 2002 World Matchplay.

Try this way for fun! T20, T19, Bullseye, three times!


Dartboard height 5’8”?

For the standard dartboard, this is true but not for all!

The height of the dartboard is 5’8” (1.73m) to the centre of the bull although there is no real evidence to establish why this height was chosen. It is believed that this was the average height of a man during the 1920’s and therefore this height was used.

Although many a pub I have visited has failed to get this simple measurement correct. The Manchester Log-end dartboard is hung lower than the standard dartboard.Manybe the men in Manchester were smaller at the time!



Dartboard Height set at the average height of a man!

"Joe was chosen as the new dartboard height man for all dartboard measurements!"


Hockey / Oche Length

Over the years many myths have been repeated as regards how the Hockey / Oche length came to be but why 7’ 9 ¼ “ / 2.73m it is rather a weird length isn’t it! Why not 7’10” or 2.8m? It basically comes down to trying to standardise the Oche length across the Country and in Europe.

In the UK several setups where commonly used however two of the most prominent were 7’6” and 8’, The News of the World Championships was played at 8’ so why the change?

Before and after the 1939-45 war a 9ft throw was popular Hockey (Oche) length. However, that was to change. From 9ft, the throwing distance gradually crept nearer the board until 7ft 6in was the rule for most major competitions in the UK with exception of the News of The World Completion that remained at 8ft.

Players from outside the UK were not happy with the 7ft 6in because they felt it was too short and during a meeting within December 1977 with the World Darts Federation a compromise was met. The Federation worked in meters, not imperial measurement used in the UK for dartboard set-up; 7ft 6in is 2.28 meters, and 8ft is 2.44 meters.

To make an agreed length a compromise was made halfway between the two, but wait a minute, halfway between the two is 7’9” so where does the extra ¼” come from?

7’ 9” didn’t equate nicely into metric so the addition of ¼” made the distance fit nicely at 2.37m hence the standard Oche length of today.




The Crucible of Darts or did I mean Snooker!

Crucible of DartsThe Crucible of Darts! Opened in 1970, Leeds Irish Centre became the social and cultural heart of the city’s Irish Community but it was the arrival of Yorkshire Television pub game series ‘Indoor League’ in 1973 presented by Fred Trueman that draw millions of viewers to watch televised darts.

The first series darts was played on a traditional ‘Yorkshire Dartboard’ a board that doesn’t feature a treble ring or outer Bullseye. Fred Truman would say it was ‘proper darts’ he would coming from Yorkshire! The standard Clock board or London Dartboard soon replaced it in later series.

Dave Lanning and Sid Waddell also feature as commentator and producer.


Bullseye TV Game show

Bronze BullyDid you know that the Bullseye TV Gameshow has been on British TV for more than 37 years! It was first broadcast in 1981 and repeats are still being broadcast on Challenge TV.

The Bronze Bully harder to win than any other competition?

Jocky Wilson is reported of saying the Bronze Bully was harder to win than an actual Professional Darts Tournament. All dart professionals want to win this unique prize and only a few can say they have.

The highest nine-dart score during the TV shows is held jointly by Eric Bristow and Mike Gregory both scored an impressive 380*. However, during the 2011 Bullseye Theatre Tour Bob Anderson topped the leader table with an incredible 420! Making this the new highest score thrown for the Bronze Bully. The charity for the theatre tour was Help for Heroes and they received £840.




Keith Dellar hit the first televised 100+ average in competition?

This is true!

The first player to have to achieve a 100 plus average in a televised World Darts Championships was Keith Dellar. In the 1985 BDO World Quarterfinals, Keith Dellar threw the first televised 100+ darts average. Keith averaged 100.29 against John Lowe who averaged 97.83, however, John won the match 4 sets to 2.


Why is a score of 26 called bed and breakfast or is it?

Bed and Beakfast 2'6 Yes, this is true!

For some reason, darts has more slang and lingo than most sports and many scores are given names a bit like bingo!

You require 44 (The Four-Tops, Motown), single four double twenty, double twenty also known as tops because it is at the top of a standard dartboard. Many of the references are an age thing! The Four Tops were a soul band and recorded with Motown, get the idea?

26, or 2’6s (two shillings and sixpence, old UK money) apparently was the cost for bed and breakfast!


Why is a single, treble and a double called Shanghai?

A score of a single, double and triple in the same number. "Shanghai" sometimes refers to a checkout of 120 (single, treble and double 20). In some games, this is an automatic win i.e. in a game of Shanghai.

Many terms used in darts come from common references used at the time, so with Shanghai, I believe term came from the card game ‘Rummy Shanghai’. There are many variants of ‘Rummy’ and its own history can be as intriguing as the sport of darts. There are references to Spain and China for this game and Rummy along with Cribbage and Twist would have been common card games played at home and in pubs in the early days of darts.

The objective in ‘Shanghai Rummy’, the card game when is to get three of a kind or three sets of three cards. Although this explanation is plausible due to the fact a cribbage board was used as an early scoring device for darts, then 301 games. It doesn’t explain why ‘Shanghai’.

I believe the reason why Shanghai may be used is that Shanghai is divided into 3 counties and 16 districts. The 3 counties are Fengxian, Nanhui and Chongming. The 16 districts are Hangpu, generally considered the centre, Luwan, Changning, Putuo, Hongkou, Minhang, Jiading, Jinshan, Songjiang, Qingpu, Nanshi, Xuhui, Jing'an, Zhabei, Yangpu, Baoshan, and Pudong New Area.

So, Shanghai has three counties, three of a kind, three within the same region. Well, I believe this may explain the three and it is likely the dart term came from a card game rather than a direct link to Shanghai itself.

I have more dart terms of this website





A strange name for a dartboard manufacturer wouldn’t you think?

The name ’Winmau’ isn’t a name that you would normally find in the dictionary but what does it mean or does it have any meaning at all?

Could it be a play on win more? But then surely the name might have been Winmor[e]. The truth behind the name is not far from the ‘win more’ example because it is a portmanteau word. (two words put together to make one that means both apparently)

Winmau was founded in 1946 by Harry Kicks, who named the company after his wife, Winifred Maud. Pronounced “Winmore”






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