Justin writes with a frank, open and often amusing style that suits the subject matter well. And if much of what is revealed about this hidden (to most of us) world is a far cry from the televised sport we know, it is the details about the people, their motivations and personalities, and the closeness of this group of sportsmen that is most affecting.
Childhood memories of long afternoons spent in front of the world championship on telly, bloated from festive over-eating, are all you need to get into the spirit of things; actually, you don't even need that. Just a willingness to follow Justin as he takes a break from the rat race, pickles his liver and takes aim at sporting greatness.
I enjoyed this book a lot. As well as learning a lot about darts trivia and about both the pub & the pro darts scene, but there is also a lot of fond recognition in glimpsing an England that many remember from their childhood, that most think is gone now, but that does still exists in not-very-well-publicised places. Great to hear the stories of hard core language, unapologetic consumption of alcohol on a grand scale, and quaint mini-traditions of darts that are adhered to and adored. Some moments of true humour as well; Justin's descriptions of his middle classness and consequent feeling out of place in the world of darts yet then realising that this only bothers one person - himself - made me laugh out loud. The incident of a fellow player cracking open a lager can at 8.45am on the way to a tournament only to be followed by Justin opening his bottle of Benylin to cries of disgust from his fellow travellers was also funny, as was the story of his drunken hug (barely reciprocated, it seemed) with Keith Deller. I think that most 30something middle class men in England would relate to a lot on this book and I recommend it. A mate of mine who finished it before he did, rediscovered his darts and then threw a 160 checkout the next day playing a mate at work, so maybe the book will help your darts as well!
Never having had much of an interest in darts (following a series of unfortunate incidents in my childhood) I took a punt on reading this book based on nothing more than the catchy title. What I found was a funny, honest and often cringeworthy account of a man doing something most would never have the 'balls' to do. I had no idea darts was so complicated but Irwin 's style and passion enabled him to descibe these intricacies in such a way that they are easily understood by non-dartists like me. I am seriously considering buying a board and setting it up in the garage to practice - who knows where that might lead (blunt darts and porous bricks I expect)An excellent read that I would recommend to anyone.