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Darting Anecdotes.

During the many years I have played darts numerous incidents have happened, some of which were distinctly amusing. Some of them even carry a cautionary tale so I will recall a few of them here.

On different nights I played for different teams and after the match on a friday I was in the habit of giving the captain a lift home. One day after a particularly heavy downpour we were on the way home when I saw a pool of water lying across the road. I said to him " Mind your feet as we go through this puddle as there is a hole in the floor ," and he laughed politely. We did not slow down and must have hit the water at about 30 miles per hour.

His laughter was cut short and turned into a howl of horror as the water sprayed through the hole. There was so much water on the windscreen I had to stop and wipe the inside before I could see to continue. He was absolutely soaked from head to toe. Fortunately the spray was restricted to his side mostly so I could see the funny side of it but strangely enough he did not laugh.

I found myself welcomed by one team in particular in the village where I lived. The captain of the team became a father figure to me and he and his wife possibly saw me as a good prospect for their daughter who was 2 or 3 years younger than me and a bit wild. For a while we got pushed together and started travelling to darts matches together. At one match she sat on my lap because of a shortage of chairs. She became uncomfortable saying "Whats this lump in your pocket?" With this she reached into my pocket to find the by now very hard lump. I whispered "Its me" She replied "Not over there it isnt" and squeezed hard saying "what is it" With my eyes bulging out I repeated " It is me" Finally she got the message and found a chair to sit on and relieve us both of our embarrassment.

 

For a while I worked at a bank and I found out that the bank encouraged many inter-branch sporting activities , including darts. So I immediately entered. The local area competitions were played close to the branch where I worked so there was no problem in playing out of hours in an evening. I won the West Midlands And Wales Region without to much difficulty and was told the finals would be held in London at the banks expense. It meant having the friday afternoon off and meeting up with some others in Birmingham and then travelling down on the train. We all then stayed a couple of nights in a hotel that the bank owned and travelled back on the sunday.

The competition was played at the banks sports and social club on the saturday. Before I went my manager sullenly said " If you are going to have a weekend at the banks expense in London you had better win." I played well all day until the final match came and then the pressure got to me and I crumbled.

My opponent was a county player of some repute but he admitted that he would have struggled against me ,if I had played in the finals the way I had earlier.

When I got back to the bank and told my manager that I had come second he seemed to relax his view on my darts nights a little as long as it was not talked about in the bank.

My first try out for a super league team came at about this time and provides a cautionary tale. I was not registered but the captain decided to play me under someone elses name. I played quite well and won making a turning point in the match for my side . In those days the local teams efforts were reported in the local newspaper and my game was mentioned. Unfortunately the lad whos name I had played under was in hospital and returned to the side some weeks later. When the team played the opposition for the reverse fixture he played under his own name and there was hell to pay. Some of the opposition remembered him playing before and they swore it was a different person which of course it was. So never play under an assumed name because it can lead to the match being forfeited.  

One night a car full of the Wednesday team was on its way to a match when the driver was seen to be having trouble with the gears. One bright spark in the back seat piped up "Whats up cant you find the right gear?" At this the irate driver turned in his seat and said "No, here you are you have a go ," and then handed him the gearstick which had come out. We all howled with laughter but after a brief struggle it was replaced without accident.

On a wednesday we had one player who had an artificial leg which brought us all a little laugh. As usual it was a match night and we were all sitting huddled around the board watching the games when a dart bounced out of the board hitting the afore mentioned player firmly in his artificial leg where it stuck. A gasp went round the room as all the opposition saw it and felt his pain. He did not flinch, well he had not felt anything as it had not hit his shortened leg, and another gasp went up as he pulled it out and returned it to the player who stood there open mouthed.

Some years ago after my skills on the board had started to wane a little I had one memorable game for a new team. It was a friendly but quite serious and as a new player the captain wanted to see what I could do. The side was not drawn but picked so he put me against a county player. It was just one of those nights when my darts went.

It was 501 and I started with 180 followed by 140. Then I hit 100+ and finished with the next 3 darts leaving my opponent well behind. One of the opposition was heard to say to a friend "Where the hell did you get him from? To which my friend replied "I knew him when he was good!"

I have this one friend who particularly likes a drink. When told by the doctor that the drink limit was 11 pints. He said " Oh ,I rarely drink that much in a night ." To which the doctor replied "I mean 11 pints a week ."

At a match in a local town one night myself, my friend, his wife and another couple were sitting together at a table when a young girl doing a drinks promotion for the brewery came round and gave everyone a free pint. As my friend was the only one who liked this beer he felt obliged to drink all 5 pints for us before continuing with his favourite brew. This was the only night I have ever seen him merry.

When playing any of the games mentioned in this book make sure that you have enough lives chalked up for a good game. Two of my friends suggested that we play 3 handed cricket in the pub one night. One friend was an average sort of pub player and the other to put it politely was not so good. He did not want the game to last too long so he only chalked up 6 wickets each. We started and I went for a score first getting a respectable 245.

Then the not so bad player went getting all out for a miserly 47. My other friend chuckled confidently and we started the next round. We bowled for the wickets before he could score and took 4 wickets with our first 6 darts between us. Then he went up and had 3 darts failing to score. I went up and the first dart hit the bull taking his remaining 2 wickets. He was out for a duck with one go at the board. After this he said " This is a silly game " and put his darts away.  

Perhaps one of the worst types of lay for darts is one which has a low ceiling. Some players can cope with this if they are the type that throws their darts very hard but if they are like me and lob their darts, the darts follow a curved fight path and invariably hit the ceiling. In fact I remember one local pub where this was such a problem that the darts were making holes in the ceiling because it was hit that much. So the landlord fixed some tiles on the ceiling which prevented the darts from sticking in.

I always used to throw for double 20 to start then and on one occasion I remember throwing my first dart which hit the ceiling tiles, bounced off and landed in the board in the bull which gave me a very acceptable start as the game was any double start. The landlord still remembers it to this day but thankfully the board has been moved to another room now.

Ceilings can still be a hazard when they are not low enough for the darts to actually hit them. Spot lights have to be fixed somewhere close to the board to be effective and on a low ceiling sometimes become an unintentional target for the darts.

I remember playing one night on such an oche and again I was the culprit with my lobbing lazy style of throw. During the match I succeeded in breaking 3 light bulbs with my darts.

The captain pleaded with me to be careful and not to break any more because they had no more bulbs and the match would have to be abandoned.  

Perhaps one of the most unusual hazards that we have had to face was when a match was nearly rained off inside in the middle of a 6 week drought. The pub was an old fashioned place which was basically a farm house that had been partially converted. The toilet block was across a farmyard with no lights and sheep were free to roam around inside as well as out. There were only two pumps in the bar, one for mild and one for bitter. Everything else came out of a bottle if they had it. Having said all this you got a good welcome and the landlady was the salt of the earth.

The darts lay was in a room which had a flat roof and unknown to anybody an old cistern had been pouring water through its overflow onto the said roof for some time. The roof was old and in some disrepair and leaked a little. The water built up in the plaster of the ceiling until it could hold no more and just as one of our players took his place on the oche the ceiling gave way cascading about 20 gallons of water down in front of him. Fortunately he did not get wet, only his feet, but we had to wait for the water to stop and be mopped up before the game could continue.

A word of caution, when drilling holes for the bolts to fit a raised oche do not try to drill through carpet unless you know what type of carpet it is.

I know of one pub which had just been refurbished with new fixtures and fittings including carpets throughout. The darts team tried to drill holes through the carpet to fix a raised oche and the thread caught round the drill and pulled, running for yards before they could do anything about it. It ruined a large piece of carpet and they were not popular so be warned!

 

Extract From a Forthcoming Book By Alan J Hartley

Copywright Alan J Hartley 5/7/03.

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