Just as the back pages of the national papers are awash with the latest surrounding the biggest names in sport, so too do I find myself writing each week about the players and teams that enjoy untrammelled success upon the oches of the port. This often results in many deserving characters being denied an opportunity to bask in the limelight.
And so this week let’s hear it for a few of our darting foot soldiers, the forgotten army that approaches the oche with confidence as low as Toulouse Lautrec’s waistband, their demeanour as cheery as a pallbearer in searching for a missing coffin.
Fuzzy Duck John Rowe is a case in point. Yes, his name is occasionally mentioned in despatches, but usually in conjunction with adjectives such as “disappointed”, “frustrated” and “bewildered”. But this year he has suddenly metamorphosed into a rumbustuous roustabout of tungsten turpitude, already with four wins under his belt prior to this week’s encounter with visitors the Blasted Heathens.
And it would have been five wins from six starts on Friday for “Rowe the Throw”, had not opponent Erik Dahl brilliantly finished on 105 to secure a highly unlikely draw when all seemed lost. Also enjoying a well earned moment in the sun for the Strawberry this week is Curtis Sandercock, his first win of the campaign helping the hosts to a wafer thin victory over the tormented Taverners, the win secured in great style by last man Andy Ingham. Suffice it to say that home skipper Steve Tonge is as happy as a lion that has spotted a three-legged zebra when the winning dart thuds satisfyingly into the sisal.
Another player with a smile as shiny as a cabbies trouser seat this week is Mikey Blyth from Dockers ‘B’. Having been called to the board for the first leg of their match in the Land That Cabs Forgot, young Mikey duly records his first win of the season to get the Spirits off to the best of possible starts. Further Blyth successes for man of the man Mitch and skipper Chris ease the visitors into a comfortable lead, their joy unconfined when Baz Martin makes it 4-0 at the halfway point.
However, a spoonful of laxative and a rub down by matron proves to be just what is needed for the remaining peripatetics, as they creak and groan their way back into contention. Martin Coleclough, Harold Davies, Mick Buckingham and Geoff Moyle deliver a quartet of second half wins for the hosts, the latter securing his fifth win, a feat that took him until February to achieve last season. Little wonder that the deflated Spirits look as limp as eight wet socks on a washing line as they troop out of the Ashley with but a solitary point when two seemed to be theirs for the taking.
Another skipper looking as shocked as Macbeth after receiving an unexpected visit from Banquo is Paul McCann from Dockers ‘A’. Having surrendered their flawless start to the season seven days previously, he is looking to get things back on track with a comfortable victory over visitors the Atkin Juggernaut. But times are hard at present for the defending champions, albeit that they too have a player celebrating a first win of the season and a man of the match nomination to boot.
Now when the one our lesser lights encounters a little success, they invariably usually blush and mutter thanks in a quiet and subservient manner. But then, unlike Brett Dawson, they don’t expect to be the centre of attention. At the oche, his eyebrows wrestle across the bridge of his nose, his chin sticks out around fourteen inches, his arms wave like a demented orchestra conductor. He sounds, upon winning, like a piano landing on a tin roof.
But even with Brett in fine fettle, still the Dockers are unable to see of the challenge of their resilient opponents. Tony Brogden makes it six wins out of six for Deaduns, as they snatch a point from the grasp of their illustrious opponents, this after man of the match Daniel Atkin gets them off to a flying start with a 109 outshot in the opening leg.
Elsewhere, there is another shared experience taking place on Kemp Street, as the Workingmens take on visitors Highbury ‘B’. Last man Simon Callighan saves a point for the home side in the dying embers of a tremendous match; this after Reb Hogg and Ray White have been adjudged best on the night for their respective sides.
The Mount remain the only team with a perfect start to the season, this after they despatch the Femme Fatales in emphatic fashion at the Bowling Club. For although Tracey Cunningham is the only winner on the night for the ladies, three or four others amongst their ranks are within a whisker of seriously upsetting the applecart. For the table toppers, it is Rob Saunders who takes centre stage in securing his fifth win of an unbeaten campaign.
Also cruising to a 7-1 victory on Friday are the Fleetwood Cons, as they welcome the Queens to Lowther Road. Dale Newton picks up his third man of the match award in five unbeaten starts, with new signing Billy Marshall best for the beleaguered Beach Road Boys.
Highbury ‘A’ are on fire this week in sweeping aside the challenge of visitors the Kings Own. From the outset they pulverise their opening doubles with metronomic efficiency, leaving opponent after opponent trailing in their wake. And yet the neither of the recipients of the man of the match awards is a winner on Friday, although nobody is surprised after watching a titanic struggle between two of the players I have been trying to avoid mentioning this week, Scott Hayton and Stan Billington.
Requiring 92, Scott clips the top wire of treble twenty. Unable to resist such a perfect marker he duly slides his second dart into the treble. In a blink of the eye, he skewers double six to leave Stan needing 88. Stan too clips the top wire of treble twenty. His second dart thuds comfortably into the eighteen to leave fifty. The rest, as they say is history.
Finally this week, the Biased Boys continue their remorseless progress with a close run victory at the Cricket Club; this despite Matty Kilburn helping the flannelled flechette flingers soar ahead in the first half. Sadly, once man of the match Mark Wilson had reduced the deficit to 3-1, the remainder of the home squad collapsed like an English middle order. A quartet of victories for Steve Stanhope, Mike Jackson, Spike O’Connor and Terry Beavers secures fifth spot in the table for the bowlers, a result however that plunges the cricketers even deeper into the mire at the bottom of the heap.