Darting Around Town with Roger Bleasdale

Plate winners Bowling Club
Plate winners Bowling Club

Agent Fox Mulder takes a draw on his cigarette and says, “Let’s look at the facts.”

“Fire away”, replies his glamorous partner Dana Scully.

“Our subject, let’s call him Average Adam, first comes to light at the Steamer Hotel in Fleetwood.”

“How long ago?” asks the blonde bombshell.

“September 2007. At the end of his first season he finishes in the top thirty.”

“Not bad”, opines Scully.

“Correct. But things start to wrong when he is next spotted at the Gasworkers Club.”

“How wrong?” she queries.

“He loses all five games at the start of the 2008 season and disappears until Valentines Night.”

“So, where’s the problem?”

“Bear with me. He plays until the end of the season but doesn’t even make it into the top 100.”

“He’s an average darts player, that’s all.”

“That’s what I thought, especially after he fails to get any higher than 85th playing for the Jolly Sailor in 2010.”

“Average Adam, you said it yourself.”

“But then something happens during the following summer”, says Mulder as he lights another cigarette.

“Something extraterrestrial?” asks Scully, a flicker of interest sparkling in her gorgeous blue eyes.

“Let’s just say that he pops back onto the radar at the Mount Hotel. At the end of the 2011 season he finishes third.”

“Third?” replies the disbelieving voluptuous vixen across the table.

“Then fourth in 2012.”

“Wow!”

“Now hold onto your hat”, says Mulder.

“In 2013 he finishes first!”

“Wow!”

“In 2014 he finishes first!”

“Wow!”

“In 2015 he finishes first again!”

“Wow!”

“You know what I’m thinking?” says Mulder.

“Alien abduction?” says his pretty partner.

“Absolutely”, confirms the chain smoking paranormal investigator.

“Do you think he’s been probed?” asks Scully.

“Probed and fitted with a bionic arm” continues Mulder.

“Wow!” pants Scully.

“We’ll have to rename him Bionic Blyth now”, says the square jawed investigator as he lights another cigarette and closes the X File upon the table.

On Friday night Adam Blyth is to be found in a packed Fleetwood Cons Club, it being Finals and Presentation Night. He is there to defend the Champion of Champions Trophy he won in spectacular fashion twelve months ago.

He makes it safely through to the second round, as do Steve Hadgraft from the Cons, Andy Gratrix from the Strawberry and Terry Beavers from the Bowling Club. Also safely negotiating the opening hurdle are Tony Brogden from the Royal Oak, Scott Hayton from Highbury ‘A’ and Trish Hughes from the Bowling Belles. The final qualifier at this stage is Stan Billington from the Kings Own.

Steve Hadgraft falls by the wayside at the quarter final stage, his nemesis the impressive Andy Gratrix. Also looking to be at his best is Terry Beavers, a 2-1 win seeing off the challenge of Deaduns star Tony Brogden. Equally efficient is Scott Hayton in ending Trish Hughes’s interest in proceedings.

Sometimes, all you can do is watch in silent admiration as two of the ports finest go at it head to head upon the oche. Step forward Stan the Man and the Bionic Blyth. A spectacular 144 finish by Adam would stop the challenge of most opponents in their tracks. But not on this occasion it doesn’t. For Stan is a man on a mission on Friday, flying starts, heavy scoring and effortless finishing bringing to shuddering halt Adam’s efforts to retain his title.

With the wind now firmly in his sails, Stan eases past the challenge of Andy Gratrix with two superb ten dart legs. Joining him in the final is Scott Hayton, a 2-0 victory over Terry Beavers booking his place on the main stage later in the evening.

Meanwhile, the Strawberry Gardens are bidding to make it a hat trick of victories in the Plate Final as they take on the Bowling Club. Alas, it is not to be this year for the Fuzzy Ducks as the biased boys run amok in a disappointedly one sided match.

Consecutive wins for Mike Jackson, Ian Ivison, Steve Stanhope, Les Ivison and Terry Beavers sweep the Bowling Club to an emphatic victory, the deflated losers down and out with three of their better players never making it to the oche.

A much closer contest takes place in the final of the Team Knockout, as defending champions the Fleetwood Cons take on resolute opponents the Mount.

Wesley Newton gets the Cons off to a winning start in the opening leg against Dave Coulborn, both players hitting their opening doubles first dart in a top quality encounter. The first dart flying start continues in game two, as Steve Riley and Dean Barker take to the oche. The Mount player keeps his nose in front in the race to the line, a 1-1 scoreline promising good things to come.

Dave Smith and Jimmy Reilly also get things underway with the opening darts in game three, the Cons player keeping his nerve to edge the Lotharios ahead again at 2-1. Back bounce the Mount in game four, Danny Ford holding onto an early advantage to levels things against Steve Hadgraft.

Once again the Cons move ahead at 3-2, this after Dale Newton gets out of jail against opponent Kelvin Dahl. And when Alan Ashton eases past Cavan Thake in game six, the spirit of the esplanaders is finally broken. Thus it is that Jordan Brooks takes centre stage in seeing off Rob Saunders in the penultimate leg, ensuring that the Cons make it a league and cup double.

Next up is the final of the Pairs Knockout, bringing to the main stage for the first time on Friday Stan Billington alongside his brother Lenny Billington. Joining them there are Mark Thwaites and Carl Simey from Highbury ‘A’. Suffice it to say that with Stan in imperious form, the last thing you need to see is his brother hitting everything he throws for. So it is that the Comrades duo finally take the title that has eluded them in each of their three previous final appearances.

Before long Stan is back on stage to take on Scott Hayton in the Champion of Champions Final. And still the Billington bandwagon continues along its merry way. There is nothing that Scott can do to stop Stan achieving a remarkable double, doubles and trebles emphatically skewered on his way to an emphatic victory.

The last action of the evening soon follows, Wesley Newton proving too strong for Carl Simey in the Individual Knockout Final. A gallant performance from Carl, the first player for six years to make it through to both singles and doubles finals.

As Wesley’s final dart thuds into the winning double, I look at my watch. Having estimated that the last dart of the night would be thrown at 10.25, I am a little smug to see it has been thrown a minute early.

And so to the presentation of trophies.

Exactly twelve months ago, the league lost one of its biggest characters. How delighted are the cream of port society to welcome Mike Pinder’s mum and dad, Linda and Eddie to present the prizes on what could have been a sad occasion for his nearest and dearest. Instead, they are able to join us in celebrating Mike’s life, along with his many friends and teammates from Dockers ‘B’, who provided the beautiful trophy presented to Champion of Champions winner Stan Billington.

Trophies, other than those contested on the night go to Lee Shewan and Steve Hadgraft, winners of the Rob Wilkinson Trophy for the best leg of darts during the year. This season’s high finish award with an outshot of 155 goes to Mark Shewan from Dockers ‘A’.

Many thanks to the Cons for the use of the room, to Chris Blyth and Paul McCann for chalking the finals and as always, special thanks to Steve Bridge and Neil Buston for helping as they have done over the years. But thanks most of all to the players from all sixteen teams, whose efforts throughout the winter months makes ours such a special darts league.

And still the biggest cheer of the evening is still to come.

For after a remarkable season of success, the Player of the Year Award for 2015 goes to Trish Hughes from the Bowling Ladies, proof indeed that a glass ceiling doesn’t exist in our wonderful sport.

As Agent Scully would say.

“Wow!”

Thanks for reading and enjoy your summer.