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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 12:03 GMT
All in the name of darts
Ted 'The Count' Hankey celebrates victory in 2000
Ted 'The Count' Hankey gets to grips with the world title trophy
Ted 'The Count' Hankey and Andy 'The Viking' Fordham - 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 character. A triumph of good over evil if ever there was one.

All three will be in action when the biggest names in darts reconvene at the Lakeside in 2004, as will the man with the shortest name in darts, Co Stompe.

In a world stereotyped by big-bellied beer guzzlers, the Dutchman also happens to be the thinnest player and not surprisingly goes by the names 'Pencil' or 'Matchstick' due to his thin-as-a-rake appearance.

Orange-clad fans will be hoping he is feeling sharp and lights up his first round meeting against Norway's Austrian-born Robert Wagner, a magician in his spare time who is known as 'The Meat Eater'.

If Wagner comes up against England captain Martin 'Wolfie' Adams, there can be but one winner - at least in the name steaks - sorry, stakes.

But as well as the inspired, there is the predictable.

Triple world champion and number one seed Raymond van Barneveld clearly spent more time on the practice board than the chalkboard in coming up with 'Barney'.

Steve Beaton - aka The Bronze Adonis
Steve Beaton - The Bronze Adonis - sports his golden mullett
And Mervyn 'The King' King liked his name so much he used it twice.

At least they are not just plain awful, a dubious list that must be topped by kilt-wearing 1997 champion Les Wallace, transformed into 'McDanger', while Richie Burnett is the 'Prince of Wales'.

Check out the world title honours board and you can see darts has always been a name game, the list of former champions including the likes of Phil 'The Power' Taylor, Dennis 'The Menace' Priestley and the legend that is 'The Crafty Cockney', five-time winner Eric Bristow.

They played with the likes of Rod 'Prince of Style' Harrington and, most bizarrely, Bob 'Limestone Cowboy' Anderson - a reference to his vaguely country-and-western get-up and roots.

Anderson's 1988 win shows darts is no follower of fashion, a fact confirmed by Steve Beaton - 'The Bronze Adonis'.

Beaton was anything but when he took the title in 1996 sporting the footballers' favourite 1980s haircut, the mullett, long past its sell-by date.

Whatever you think of the tags, it all adds to the fun.





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