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   Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 11:18 GMT
All in the name of darts
Ted 'The Count' Hankey
The Count receives messages from Transylvania
Andy 'The Viking' Ford and Ted 'The Count' Hankey - they are figures that seem to have been lifted straight from the pages of history.

But darts are their only weapons of choice and it seems you have not arrived on the oche until you have acquired a nickname.

Two-time finalist Hankey's tag only starts to make sense when you see him and realise he is the spitting image of a Hammer House Of Horror Dracula - a younger version of snooker's Ray Reardon.

The 2000 champion suffered in 2001 when he lost in the final to John 'Boy' Walton, named after the popular 1970s TV show.

That sounds like a a triumph of good over evil if ever there was one.

One classically monikered player that is absent from this year's tournament is The Bronze Adonis - Steve Beaton.

The man, who has single-handedly tried to keep footballers' favourite 1980s haircut - the mullet - in fashion long past its sell-by date, won the title back in 1996.

Steve 'The Bronze Adonis' Beaton
The mulleted legend himself - Steve Beaton
The Prince of Dartness, otherwise known as Chris Mason, is another big name absent from this year's proceedings at Frimley Green.

Dutchman Co Stompe will be in action at the Lakeside though, and not surprisingly his nickname Pencil might have something to do with his thin-as-a-rake appearance.

Then we have the predictable, including Raymond 'Barney' Barneveld, the two-time champion from Holland and Mervyn 'Merv the Swerve' King.

Limestone Cowboy

They are at least not as bad as the groan-inducingly awful, which must be topped by kilt-wearing 1997 champion Les Wallace, transformed into McDanger, while Richie Burnett was the Prince of Wales.

It wasn't much better in the past - everyone knows Eric Bristow was the Crafty Cockney, but check out Phil 'The Power' Taylor and Dennis 'The Menace' Priestley (both now defected to Sky).

And that's not forgetting Rod 'Prince of Style' Harrington and, most bizarrely, Bob 'Limestone Cowboy' Anderson - a reference to his vaguely country-and-western get-up and his roots.

Whatever you think of the tags, it all adds to the fun, and don't forget it's difficult to win without a nickname.

Embassy World Darts Championship

Barneveld's title

Photo galleries

Bobby's Kingdom

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