We spoke to Notts’ darts team ahead of Varsity Darts 2016

Booze, banter and flying benches


Varsity Darts is back again this year for what promises to be another classic evening of 180s, double pints and shit chat from Trent.

The University of Nottingham’s darting heroes will face-off against our poly neighbours on Friday 5th February in front of hundreds of hammered supporters inside Trent SU. The Tab met up with UoN Captain Tim Thorowgood and Vice-President James Strode to discuss last year’s dramatic victory over the Russell Group rejects and why Varsity Darts 2016 is set to be the biggest yet.

From left: James Strode (VP), Ben Clark, Jack Simpson, Tim Thorowgood (C)

From left: James Strode (VP), Ben Clark, Jack Simpson, Tim Thorowgood (C)

Why should people come to Varsity Darts 2016?

Tim: “It’s a rowdy ever full of banter, booze and double pints.”

James: “It is arguably one of the biggest events of the year, everyone I speak to says that.”

What happened at last year’s event?

Tim: “It went down to the last leg of the last match. It was a shootout with us both on 80. Trent couldn’t handle it when we won and threw a bench at our fans.”

James: “All I remember was being upstairs on the balcony, the whole day had gone on for so long and I just wanted to go to bed. It was a good feeling when that last dart went in, and was nice to look down on the celebrations.”

Were you the underdogs going up against Trent?

Tim: “We put UoN on the map globally with our win last year. We were massive underdogs, it’s the first time we beat them and in their back yard.”

James: “Last year they wanted the clowns, they didn’t get the clowns, they got us who beat them. Some would say they were ostriches with their heads in the sand.”

How do you cope with the atmosphere and the abuse?

James: “It’s just noise, it doesn’t bother me, some people crumble. Depends what type of character you are to be honest. If you got the nerve it’s like a normal match. I prefer it to playing in the local pub league because you’ve got 12 men standing in silence watching you.”

Tim: “It depends on how much some people drink. Simmo will drink 10 pints before he goes on, he can’t play sober. Its a great feeling when you’re getting all the abuse from their side and then all your mates are making more noise than them.”

James: “We’ve got some of the best fans in the country.”

Tim "The Dartbreak Kid" competing at last year's Varsity

Tim ‘The Dartbreak Kid’ competing at last year’s Varsity

Do you guys like giving chat back to Trent?

James: “Its not for me that sort of thing, they can say whatever they want, I’ll let the darts do the talking.”

Tim: “It depends how much they give it to you. I got quite a bit of abuse last year so I gave it back to them. We’re both unbeaten at Varsity.

What happens behind the scenes?

James: “We have to talk about the chat backstage. They love to give it out when you’re practising.”

Tim: “They have about 12 backstage and you can’t actually have a conversation with half of them because they’re idiots. Backstage is great, they like to get involved, we kind of keep to ourselves so we can practise more.”

Simmo and Countdown in practise at Mooch

Simmo and Countdown in practice at Mooch

How do the teams line up this year?

Tim: “We like to give freshers and second years a chance. Trent are bringing back people who graduated two years ago who clearly can’t let university go. They make the rules as they go along, it’s at their place so they’re in charge of it.”

Strody: “We could bring back alumni, but it devalues and disrespects the competition. You look at our team this year, Tim should be called ‘The Postman’ because he stands and delivers, Jack ‘Simmo’ Simpson is the UK universities’ best current player and theres Ben ‘Countdown’ Clark. Last year he got his top off and celebrated with he fans. It was his favourite moment of uni.”

Whats your favourite double?

James: “Double Twenty!”

Tim: “Which is probably their average age.”

Vice-Pres James and Captain Tim

Vice-Pres James and Captain Tim

What is the SU’s attitude to darts?

Tim: “We got moved last year from our spiritual home to make way for ‘The Studio’. We got absolutely shafted to be honest. We had to sort out practising in Mooch last minute, it’s a nightmare. We’re our own society really.”

Strody: “We do what we want. Darts isn’t part of the official Varsity which is one of the greatest tragedies. Its such a shame.”

Tim: “Darts is the second most watched sport. I imagine the SU doesn’t consider it a sport, but walking 7ft 9 and a quarter and throwing some metal, I don’t know how that isn’t a sport. Its probably the drinking.”

Are UoN going to win?

James: “From Nottingham’s perspective, from the Horn in the Hand to Riley’s where they play, to their SU to our SU, they know who the best team are.”

Tim: “Half of the games aren’t played on the stage, it’s all in the head. We’re a bunch of winners, we were born to play darts. Hopefully we can get it done by the Ocean ticket time so we can all go to Ocean. That’s the big issue, we don’t want to end up in Forum.”

Tickets for the showpiece event of Varsity 2016 are on sale here. Come and support the boys in green.