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   Friday, 10 January, 2003, 10:59 GMT
Kingmaker: Olly Croft
BDO founder Olly Croft
Croft is a hugely influential figure in world darts
The British Darts Organisation (BDO) celebrates its 30th anniversary this month.

Its three decades of existence are largely a result of the work of Olly Croft, who founded the governing body in the front room of his Muswell Hill home in 1973.

And since that day, Croft has been instrumental in the development of both the BDO and the game of darts as a global sport.

Croft is recognised as the leading administrator, but he is more of an influence and a pioneer than that suggests.

It was his foresight and guidance that encouraged the concept that darts should be organised and played in a professional manner.

And through Croft and the BDO, the rules which globally govern darts today were formulated.

The Embassy World Championship entered its 26th year in January 2003.

The tournament was the brainchild of Croft and the organisers claim it remains the most prestigious event in world darts.

It has been covered by the BBC since its inception and remains a favourite with TV audiences, proving the sport's popularity.

Phil Taylor
Taylor helped establish the rival PDC
And the size of darts' international audience can also be credited to the vision of Croft.

Through Croft, the BDO became founder member of the World Darts Federation (WDF), which today represents more than 50 darts playing nations.

And Croft, who serves as the Secretary General of the body, instigated the very first WDF World Cup, played at Wembley Conference Centre in 1977.

Major world tournaments followed - once more with Croft the leading figure in their birth - including the Winmau World Masters.

Breakaway

Today, the BDO and its members organise, promote, stage and administrate over 800 darts events annually.

But it has not all been smooth sailing.

In 1994, some players, including Phil Taylor, broke away from the BDO to set up a new group called the Professional Darts Council (PDC).

And since then there has been rival world championships.

Croft, though, took it all in his stride and he told BBC Sport Online: "It was a shame when the 14 players moved to the PDC, but they wanted to do their own thing.

"But we feel we offer a good deal for all our players in terms of prize money and the vast number of events we hold."

Robert Holmes, the BDO's public relations consultant, added: "Taylor was one of a breakaway group in 1994 and there is no doubt that he is a phenomenal player.

"However, all the best darts is played in the Embassy, as the statistics undoubtedly prove."

That may be debatable, with Taylor - the greatest ever player - plying his trade in the opposing camp.

But last year's Embassy winner, Tony David, returned to this year's event as the world number one.

It reinforces the quality of the event and the power that Croft holds, as he continues to rule an empire that shows little sign of crumbling.


Embassy World Darts Championship

Barneveld's title

Photo galleries

Bobby's Kingdom

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