The captain of the table toppers looks at the captain of the mid table team.
“I look down on you because I am the top of the table. I am upper class”, he says.
The captain of the mid table team looks at the captain of the table toppers.
“I look up to you because you are at the top of the table. I am middle class”, he says.
He looks at the captain of the bottom team.
“But I look down on you because you are at the bottom of the table.”
The captain of the bottom teams looks at the other two captains.
“I know my place”, he says.
Thus have the different social groups identified themselves throughout the years in the Fleetwood Darts League.
For over half a century it has been the accepted practice for the lower orders, when confronted by opponents from the upper echelons of port society, to curl up submissively and accept their fate as would a worm upon being confronted by the early bird. I mean, it wouldn’t be right for the worm to sock its feathered breakfaster in the gizzard, now would it?
Yet an unwillingness to accept one’s place in the grand design of things seems to be growing week by week of late. Take for example the events taking place on Upper Lune Street on Friday night as the Bowling Club plays host to defending champions the Fleetwood Cons.
Good manners dictate that the Biased Boys will put up a modicum of resistance before meekly accepting their fate at the hands of their illustrious guests.
Sadly, nobody seems to have explained the finer points of ocheological etiquette to Chris Donnelly and his charges, as they set about their aristocratic guests with reckless abandon. First, Spike O’Connor gets the home side off to a flyer in the opening leg, an advantage immediately doubled by man of the match Les Ivison.
And although Cons skipper Geoff Coulborn halves the deficit in game three, before long the Lowther Lotharios are in disarray as Mike Jackson and Steve Stanhope take the home side to within touching distance of a remarkable upset at 4-1 to the good.
A splendid cameo by Steve Cowell does at least keep the Cons hopes alive in game six, hopes that are emphatically extinguished in the penultimate leg by Ian Ivison, as he secures the victory that sees the Biased Boys chalk up an emphatic 5-2 winning advantage. A ten darts masterclass from Dean Barker in the dying embers of the contest provides but scant consolation for the shell shocked Lotharios.
Thankfully, such incidents of social re-engineering are rare indeed upon the oches of the port. So let us travel down to Preston Street to see how the pecking order really works. All is calm and tranquil as we enter the darts room, one glance at the scoreboard assuring us that, here at least, all is right with the world.
Wins for top dog Lee Shewan, Adam Blyth, Robert Dagger and Mark Shewan are duly recorded in the Dockers credit column, the only defeat in the debit column inflicted by the ebullient Tracey Cunningham as the mighty Dockers ‘A’ take apart bottom club the Femme Fatales.
And yet even here there is the smell of revolution in the air as dame of the game Kirsty Bancroft and Berni Heron both win to reduce the home team’s advantage to a solitary leg with just one match remaining. Minutes later the gathered throng of darting dollies are leaping and embracing in disbelieving joy as Natasha Eaves levels the match at 4-4 to inflict a serious dent in the title aspirations of the Dockerites.
And so it is that, with just six weeks of the season remaining, the Mount and Highbury ‘A’ are presented with a golden opportunity to close to within a point or two of the faltering frontrunners. Finally we come across some serious forelock tugging and subservience, as an acquiescent Queens Hotel octet subsides gently to a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the rampant Olympians. Dave Coulborn is at his matinee idol best for the victors, with Jamie Spore moving ever closer to a Champion of Champions spot with his solitary rearguard action for the losers.
Highbury ‘A’ also gratefully accept their invitation to rejoin the title race with an emphatic 6-2 victory on the blasted heath. Ray Connolly is best on the night for the victorious footballers, with Gaz Whitehead tops for the tumbledown Taverners.
The Collapsible Comrades consolidate fifth spot in the table on Friday with a comfortable conquest of the Chinese Telephone Directory. Stan Billington is pyrotechnically precise in plundering a twelve darts leg for the 6-2 victors, whilst for the well beaten Workingmens it is Phil Lee who looks inscrutably accurate in securing his fourteenth win of the campaign.
A middle class coming together ends satisfactorily juxtaposed at 4-4 across town, as the Highbury ‘B’ takes on visitors the Cricket Club. Things look pretty gloomy for the hosts after Darren Rathbone eases the visitors 4-2 ahead in this mid table meander fest. But then back buzz the B’s through man of the match Steve Hayton and Cliff Ashby to snatch a point just as the cucumber sandwiches and petit fours are served.
Normally, the Peripatetic Pensioners travel about as well as Bolivian Beaujolais. Their default position being to turn Val Doonican up to number four on the team bus, arrive at their venue, moan about the price of the beer and the lack of pureed refreshments at half time, lose the match and return back to the retirement home happy that they haven’t encountered any enjoyment on their travels.
Little wonder then that I struggle to comprehend the contents of the match card on Friday as they totter into town to take on the Atkin Juggernaut. 7-1 is about right, as I look first for the final score. But hang on; the seven appears to be on the Ashley side of the card!
A fitting end to a surreal week then upon the oches of the port as George Housecroft takes centre stage for the aged ones in their trouncing of the disaster prone Deaduns, for whom Daniel Atkin is a solitary success story.
And as the old boys departed the scene of their triumph, an eerie silence envelops the darts room like a linseed poultice. Someone in the parlour inadvertently opens a bag of crisps. They say it sounds just like King Kong has jumped off the Empire State Building and landed on a cucumber frame.
A peculiar night indeed.