Darting Around Town with Roger Bleasdale

Fleetwood Darts League round-up
Fleetwood Darts League round-up

I may have mentioned previously my passion for collecting local darts memorabilia, which I keep in a trunk bequeathed to me by Great Uncle Algernon, the man who famously led the ill-fated BDO expedition to the Dark Continent in 1927 in search of the mythical orang-utan with a three dart average of 104.67.

Fotheringay and I will be attending a Glam Rock convention in a week or two, which is why you find me on Saturday morning rummaging through the trunk in search of the vertiginous beige platform shoes worn by John Peoples during his debut for the Highbury in 1977. They will go nicely with my Bay City Rollers ensemble, if only I can find them.

Here is one of the Sergio Giorgio tracksuits so favoured by the Crucible players when they clinched their league and cup double in 1995. And here is a winner’s trophy apparently belonging to the Ashley. Sadly, I can’t read the inscription on the pockmarked surface as it appears to be written in Medieval English.

Wrapped up in an old Fleetwood Freeport football shirt is the saucer presented to the Royal Oak in 1999, this after their abject failure to progress in either cup or plate. Upon a sheet of paper is a list of Fleetwood pubs (including the Cutty Sark, the Mariners and the Arms) that were forced to close after recklessly agreeing to allow the Neighbours from Hell to take up residence. And here in a corner of the trunk is a box of Good Luck cards sent to the Cons over the years from their fellow darters across the port. It appears to be empty.

There are a number of copies of the Weekly News in here as well. Here’s one from November 1992. On the sports pages I see that Geoff Coulborn is in goal for the Roy Stephenson inspired Fleetwood Metals football team, whilst the star of the Fleetwood Gym under 10’s that weekend is a certain Terrence Beavers.

Amongst the star darts performers that weekend in 1992 is Neil Buston, who celebrates his 28th birthday by beating Brian Wright in the match between the Prince Arthur and the Steamer. He then joins a crowd of 199 to watch Fleetwood lose 3-2 at home to Matlock Town on Saturday afternoon.

Fast forward 22 years and we find he is still at it just 24 hours before turning 50! On Friday, before travelling down to Yeovil with Cod Army, the Comrades skipper gets his charges off to the best of possible starts in their home match against the Queens Hotel. Gaz Whitehead is happy to pick up his second man of the match award of the season, as indeed is Stan Billington with his 12 darts masterclass. For the well beaten Beach Road Boys, it is Jamie Spore who flies a solitary flag of resistance in Albert Square.

The top teams in town all enjoy comfortable victories this week, with table toppers Highbury ‘A’ maintaining their advantage with a 7-1 victory away to the Strawberry. Individual averages leader Steve Bond is best on the night for the footballers as he extends his perfect start to the season with an impressive eleventh victory. Andy Gratrix continues to improve week on week for the flummoxed Fuzzies as they strive to rediscover their early season spark.

Defending champions Dockers ‘A’ stroll to an emphatic 8-0 victory away to the Femme Fatales with Lee Shewan again taking centre stage for the pugilistic Preston Streeters. Also enjoying a gentle stroll around the oche on Friday are the Lowther Lotharios, a 7-1 home victory over the Peking Ducks maintaining their pursuit of the leading duo. Steve Hadgraft is pyrotechnically precise for the victorious Cons this week, with Brian Wood as happy as a bug in a rug after his inaugural man of the match award for the wobbly Workies.

The Mount safely hang onto second spot in the table after a strong second half scoring blitz away to Dockers ‘B’. A brace of wins for Martin Parry Jones and Brian Bond get the Olympians off to a splendid start; this before Chris and Mitch Blyth level things up neatly at the halfway point. Thereafter it is all downhill for the Spirits as Cavan Thake, top banana Steve Riley, Dave Coulborn and a maximum from Andy Parry Jones sees the visitors cruise clear at 6-2 to the good.

Elsewhere, the Peripatetic Pensioners get back to winning ways away to an anguished Cricket Club. Darren Rathbone is a welcome returnee for the 5-3 losers, with Joe Lavery best on the night for the overjoyed octogenarians.

This week we end with a couple of shared experiences, first at the football club where Highbury ‘B’ take on the Blasted Heathens. In no time at all the home side surge ahead through man of the match Darryl Butler and the returning Gary Swanton. And although Ian Barron reduces the deficit in game three, it is not long before John Shaw makes it 3-1 at the halfway point.

Into the second period and back again bounce the Taverners through skipper Pete Hornby, only for the hosts to pull clear at 4-2, courtesy of sixth man Anthony Rhymes. To their credit, the visitors refuse to bow the knee and collect a well-earned point with victories in the dying embers of a thrilling match by Al Morley and man of the match Tony Ashburn.

Our final match takes place at the Royal Oak, the home side taking a 3-1 lead into the interval following wins for best of breed Kevin Thompson, Pete Fairbrother and Daniel Atkin, this after Mike Jackson has given the Bowling Club an early advantage with a performance of awesome accuracy.

The visitors are also quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half, wins for Steve’s Stanhope and Fryer levelling things nicely at 3-3. Still, the visitors are denied a lead in the penultimate leg thanks to a great win for home skipper Sean Atkin. But back for a final time bounce the biased boys at the death, Mark Wilson securing the victory that sees both teams suitably content at four legs apiece.

Thanks for reading.