Have you ever wondered who the first professional darter was?
In the beginning there was just a board upon the wall of a tavern in ancient Rome.
One night, Barius Hearnus the innkeeper lights a torch above the board.
Loafus the Baker stands before the board and sees that the light is good.
Trappus the Poacher stands before the board and sees also that the light is good.
“Fancy a game?” says Loafus.
“Verily”, replies Trappus.
A learned man of numbers sits upon a stool by the bar nursing a glass of wine.
“Will you mark Marcus?” asks Loafus.
The learned man of numbers hops of his stool and shuffles to the side of the board.
From within a pocket in his toga he removes a lump of calcium sulphate.
“Nearest to a bull goes first”, he says.
“Moo”, says Loafus.
“Baa”, says Trappus.
“You’re nearest”, says the learned man of numbers to Loafus.
The baker reaches into his basket and selects three sticky buns.
He hurls them, one after another, at the board.
Being exceedingly chubby, he is unable to reach the board before the buns drop.
“No score”, shouts the learned man of numbers.
The poacher reaches into his sack and selects three hedgehogs.
He hurls them, one after another, at the board.
Being fit and lithe, he darts rapidly to the board and removes the prickly projectiles.
“Three scored”, shouts the learned man of numbers.
“Quick bit of darting that”, says the innkeeper.
“Got to be nippy in my line of work” says Trappus.
“You looking for a manager?” says Barius.
“Maybe”, says the poacher.
“I’m thinking Trappus the Darter on the back of your toga and some customised hedgehogs”.
Funnily enough, I couldn’t help thinking that the players of Highbury ‘B’ and the Kings Own might as well have been throwing hedgehogs in the first round of the cup last Friday. Indeed, it isn’t until the start of extra time that suddenly the tie explodes into life.
First, Stan Billington rattles in an eleven darts leg to edge the visitors ahead at 5-4, this before Anthony Rhimes levels the tie up in some style at 5-5. Neither player looks like winning the deciding leg, which becomes a battle of attrition until Lenny Billington finally manages to locate his finishing double for the Collapsibles. Little wonder that the sound of gnashing teeth is to be heard amongst the home contingent as the victors sheepishly vacate the premises.
Another extra time nerve shredder takes place on Upper Lune Street, as the Femme Fatales take on the Blyth Spirits. Always in arrears, it is to their credit that the ladies level this match at 4-4, this after wins for Belinda Yusuf and Berni Newby in the dying embers of the match.
Sadly, Belinda is unable to deliver a repeat performance in the play off as skipper Chris Blyth Senior edges the Spirits ahead at 5-4. Back bounce the belles in game ten, Tracey Cunningham seeing off Mitch Blyth for 5-5. Now, I really don’t know how to explain what happens next, other than to say that a certain young man is unlikely to be getting any spending money off his mum in the foreseeable future, this after he beats her to take the Dockers ‘B’ boys through to the next stage by the narrowest of margins.
Another close encounter of the darting kind is taking place upon the Blasted Heath, as the Taverners and Bowling Club also end up all square at the end of normal time. Gavin Billington, who had earlier recorded a 180 in regulation time, triumphed again in the play off to edge the home side ahead at 5-4. Mike Jackson immediately levels things again at 5-5 for the biased boys, this before Mark Mizon breaks the hearts of the travelling contingent as he secures a place in the last eight for the recently reanimated Rossallites.
Bottom club the Cricket Club record a splendid win over visitors the Royal Oak on Friday. Again, it is Jimmy Pilling who secures a 5-3 victory for the home side with another triumphant last man performance.
Elsewhere, things are a little more routine, no more so than in deepest Thornton where Dockers ‘A’ record a comfortable 7-1 victory over the Peripatetic pensioners. Trevor Eaves is best for the beleaguered hosts, this after a notable victory over joint averages leader Adam Blyth. For the victorious visitors, Brett Dawson is spectacular in his new spectacles.
Also suffering a rare setback this week is Steve Riley, Jack Wilson’s victory for the Queens ensuring that both front runners in the race for this season’s averages title are brought back to earth with a bump. Sadly, the Beach Road Boys are unable to capitalise on Jack’s performance as opponents the Mount cruise comfortably to a 6-2 victory.
Curtis Sandercock is a happy chappie this weekend following his win over big hitter Jeff Walkington from the Cons. Alas, the Strawberry boys are unable to make much more of an impression on their voracious visitors, the highlight of their 6-2 victory being a splendid win for Roy Gaskell over Andy Gratrix.
Finally this week, a comfortable victory to report for Highbury ‘A’ as they prove too strong on the night for hosts the Workingmens. It is good to see Ray Connolly back in the saddle once more for the footballers, whilst for their well beaten hosts it is Phil Lee who looks as pleased as Punch with his performance.
“Legendis Gratias” as Trappus would say.