Passion for the game traditionally played in pubs across the world brought together professional darts competitors and fans at the two-day 2015 Darts Invitational Challenge held at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium in early January. However, as The Age reported, a violent situation erupted on the final night of the Challenge, as drunken revellers took to throwing chairs, upturning tables and body slamming. The incident was reportedly sparked when members of the 4, 500 strong spectator crowd began forming a “chair pyramid” in the centre of the arena, surrounding the temporary stage where the two final darts professionals played off the final round. The 70 security guards at the event reportedly struggled to prevent the chair-throwing crowd from continuing the ensuing chaos, calling in the police Riot Squad with 40 officers to assist.
As photographs released by the Courier Mail show, the faces of willing participants would suggest it was all fun and games. With a mere three people suffering minor injuries, the incident may be written off as an embarrassment, but with some calls for further restrictions on alcohol consumption at darts events.
The growing popularity of the sport of darts in Australia over the past several years has seen increasing numbers of registered competitors, and proportionate growth in crowd sizes at international tournaments akin to those seen in Europe and particularly the UK. The president of Darts Australia has suggested that “troublemakers” rather than true darts fans are responsible for the poor behaviour, and hopes that the incident will not have a lasting impact on the game’s image.