Darting around town with Roger Bleasdale

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Finally, it has arrived!

It is around nine bells on Friday evening as I gently sway to the rhythm of the tram as it carries me into the heart of the port. If memory serves me right, I am humming the chorus of “Katie went to Haiti”, as I step out onto the Lord Street pavement.

Suddenly, I find myself skating across the paving stones in a manner not dissimilar to that displayed by Torvill and Dean at the climax of the Bolero. When I eventually slide to a halt, I bend over to remove the remains of a canine deposit from the sole of my Gunn and Moore calfskin brogues. And yet, still I smile contentedly as I turn in the direction of Annie’s Attic, for finally it has arrived!

I pause before a shop window to reposition my beret at a more rakish angle, whilst whistling the opening bars to “My Tallahassee Lassie.” As I stand admiring my aristocratic profile in the emporium glass, I feel a definite splatter, splatter, splatter upon my hat.

Looking up, I see above me on a lamppost one of the port’s resident seagulls, a smile of sinister satisfaction upon its beak. And yet, still I smile contentedly as I remove the silk handkerchief peeking provocatively from my breast pocket and wipe off the aforementioned splatter, for finally it has arrived!

Striding resolutely onwards, I turn to cross the road across from the lowering edifice of St. Mary’s church. Unfortunately, at that very moment, a charabanc hurtles by, depositing the contents of a sizeable lake in the gutter upon the trouser legs of my mohair trousers.

Undeterred, I cross the street, shaking each leg alternately as I go in an attempt to remove the contents of the puddle from my turn ups. And yet, still I smile contentedly as I reach the door of Annie’s, for finally it has arrived!

For at last, after nine seemingly endless winter months, the last week of the season has indeed arrived. It is almost time to take the old typewriter to the charity shop. Time to get Fotheringay settled in at the Bespoke Butlers Rest Home in Calder Vale and time to reform my Beatles tribute group, “Sergeant Pepper’s Only Darts Board Band”.

But, before I start to dust down my drum kit, there are still a number of outstanding issues to be sorted out as the great and good of port darting society gathers for one final hurrah! First, there is the small matter of a league title yet to be decided, as we arrive at the dying embers of the campaign.

Dockers ‘A’ and defending champions Fleetwood Cons have been at each other throats throughout the season, a solitary point separating them as they stride to the oche for the final time. The Lowther Lotharios travel down the esplanade knowing that nothing less than a win against the Olympians will suffice. Wins for Steve Cowell, Alan Ashton and Steve Hadgraft in the first half give the visitors a healthy advantage, the only response from the home side, a man of the match performance by Steve Riley.

Sadly, things then go dramatically downhill for the visitors as Dave Coulborn, Brian Bond and Rob Saunders all record crucial wins, this before best on the night for the Cons, Dale Newton salvages a point for his side in the final leg of a titanic tussle.

Meanwhile, across town, Moses and the Dockerites are squaring up to the Blyth Spirits in a tense local derby at the Dockers Club. However, despite a trio of splendid performances by Barry Martin, Mitch Blyth and Chris Blyth, it is to be the Dockers ‘A’ outfit who finish at the top of the pile this year as Lee Shewan inspires them to the victory that finally shakes off their resilient pursuers. Victory for Adam Blyth also secures him the league averages title for a second consecutive season, a profitable night indeed then for skipper Paul McCann and his omnipotent octet.

Elsewhere, third placed Highbury ‘A’ consolidate their place in the pecking order with an emphatic demolition of neighbours Highbury ‘B’. Geoff Ward saves the losers from suffering a dreaded local derby whitewash as John Shaw ends his season with an emphatic ten darts masterclass for the rampant victors.

The Mark Brook inspired Collapsible Comrades secure a last gasp victory against visitors the Peripatetic Pensioners, a brace of double tops by Stan Billington bringing the curtain down on a season of sustained brilliance for one of the port’s biggest hitters. In a match awash with 140’s, it is Joe Lavery, who catches the eye for the visitors as teammate Martin Coleclough sneaks into snatch a last gasp qualification for the Ashley by the narrowest of margins ahead of Mick Buckingham.

The Femme Fatales end a first eventful season at the bottom of the pile, this after the Bowling Boys cruise to a comfortable 6-2 victory on Friday. It is worth noting however that the girls recorded 85 victories during the campaign, none more so than Tracey Cunningham who will be going toe to toe with the big boys during this week’s Finals Night. Natasha Eaves takes centre stage for the darting dames this week, with Terry Beavers back to his best for the battling biased boys.

The Strawberry and Queens meanwhile enjoyed a rumbustuous encounter on Poulton Road this week, the former fighting back from a 3-1 deficit to snatch a share of the spoils courtesy of last man Ian Kempson. For the visitors it is Jack Wilson who suddenly begins to play like namesake Jocky, his splendid 110 finish a suitable coup de grace at the end of 12 dynamic darts.

Meanwhile, on the blasted heath, the Taverners warm up for their appearance in this week’s cup final with a hard won victory over visitors the Workingmens. Al Morley carries on the good week from last week for the victorious home side, with Don Gair suitably belligerent in beige for the spirited losers.

Our final league encounter of the season takes place on Lord Street, the result in doubt until last man Billy White edges home to secure a hard won two points for the Atkin Juggernaut. Tony Brogden maintains his spectacular form over the last few weeks in delivering his sixteenth victory of the season, with Darren Rathbone the best for the Cricket Club as they prepare for this week’s Plate Final against the Fuzzy Ducks.

Matches begin on Friday at 8pm, with some great darts guaranteed on the night. A good turnout is guaranteed, so be sure to get down to the Cons early to cheer on your favourites on the last night of winter ocheological competition.

Thanks for reading.