Darts ace Bobby tells men to be brave in battle against cancer
PUBLISHED: 18:00 22 December 2017
Bobby George is one of sport's larger-than-life characters and when he talks about darts everyone listens.
I had the pleasure of spending time with the likeable east Londoner – born in Manor Park almost exactly 72 years ago – to talk about the PDC and BDO World Championships last week.
But that was secondary to a much more important discussion about prostate cancer and work being done to raise awareness of the disease.
George was at The Minories, Tower Hill, with former world champions Dennis Priestley (1991, 1994) and Martin Adams (2007, 2010-11) – who have both been affected – to talk about the Men United campaign in pubs across the country.
And his message was clear to all as he said: “We didn’t know about prostate cancer when I was young. It’s only in the last 10 years I’ve known about it.
“You don’t want to leave it too late. More people get it when they’re older, but you can get it when you’re young as well. Have a blood test and they can tell you, about 80 per cent.
“Guys get embarrassed to go to the doctor, but if you get it quick you live. People have asked me why did you get it done and I tell them it’s because I want to live.
“Since I’ve been aware of it, there’s been a lot more guys had it than I thought.
Women get breast cancer – and men – and it’s terrible when they get it and don’t know they’ve got it. I had a relation who died of it.
“It’s the same as prostate cancer, it’s that sort of thing for a man. Don’t be shy. Don’t be a tart, get up there and have a blood test!
“Do it, it’s your life. If you didn’t do it, you could come unstuck, if you do it, you could live. But ‘if’ is half of ‘life’ and that’s most important.
“You don’t want to suffer, you don’t want your family to suffer, we’ve got the National Health Service, other countries haven’t got that chance to go and get a blood test, get awareness and get it sorted.”
One in eight men in the UK will be diagnosed – my own uncle has had the disease – and one man dies of prostate cancer every 45 minutes, which is alarming.
The Men United Arms is Prostate Cancer UK’s unique experience for pubs, bars and clubs and its aim is to raise awareness and get conversations started in places where people feel comfortable talking.
Landlords and licensees have also been tasked with raising funds for Prostate Cancer UK by hosting events amongst their customers, including darts, racing and quiz nights.
George added: “It’s frightening that one man dies every 45 minutes. It’s dodgy. Awareness is important, if you’re aware, you get cured quicker.”
With the serious conversation over, we then chatted about the darts, as the PDC Championships prepared to start at Alexandra Palace, ahead of the BDO event in the new year.
“I’ll be watching both sides. I’m a dart player and darts is darts. It’s always been a great game, I’ve had a living out of it for 42 years,” said George, a two-time runner-up on the world stage.
“Ally Pally is big, but they fill it, they get a lot of noise. You’ve got to shut it out. The days of going ‘shush’ are gone. You don’t see anyone when you’re throwing at a dartboard anyway, they’re all behind you.
“I’ve got to go for Michael van Gerwen in one half and Glen Durrant is the best player in the BDO, without a doubt.
“I’ve known Michael since he was about 13 and he was born a dart player that boy. He played brilliant darts when he was 13. He don’t aim, he just throws them!
“I call him the motorbike kid. When he hits the double, he revs it up. Be careful, once he starts it, he just flattens you!
“But you never know in the World Championships. There’s a lot of people in it but there’s probably only eight in both sides that could win it.”
Darts certainly makes for good entertainment, be it in the flesh, where the atmosphere can be ‘lively’ or on TV. I know I will be watching some of the action over Christmas and New Year.
And George says it can be a useful teaching tool, adding: “There’s a lot of good youngsters playing, but you’ve got to put a lot of hours in and learn to count.
“You can be a great dart player, but you’ve got to be able to count. It’s probably about 20 per cent of your game if you count properly. You’ve got to keep practising, but it’s memory of combinations.
“Everything is maths. I always say to kids maths controls the world. Darts can teach you to count and help with life maths.”
It would be great to help change the numbers regarding prostate cancer. To find out how to help stop prostate cancer being a killer see prostatecanceruk.org/darts