Darting around Town with Roger Bleasdale

Fleetwood Friday Darts League review
Fleetwood Friday Darts League review

It is twenty minutes until registration deadline on the Night of the Wildebeest.

As usual I am intently watching the doorway at the Conservative Club.

A frown besmirches my aristocratic brow as I count the number of ocheologists present.

A number of regulars are missing.

They are on a cultural visit to the Isla Del Hombre.

But as usual, I need not have worried.

For, with five minutes remaining, the sound of taxicabs screeching to a halt can be heard.

How the wildebeest loves to delay his entrance.

What fun it is to see the league secretary suffer an attack of the vapours.

But after ten minutes of frantic ticking and loose change pocketing, I am delighted to discover that the number of participants this year is higher than ever and we are ready to go.

And what a great night of darts they subsequently deliver, with more twists and turns than would be found in a recruitment agency for whirling dervishes.

Amongst the big names crashing out of the competition at the first hurdle are John Shaw and Eddie Miller from Highbury ‘A’, their early nemesis being Comrades duo Gaz Whitehead and Kenny Harrison.

Similarly dispatched at the first time of asking are fancied Workies pairing Steve Gray and Phil Lee, albeit at the hands of previous winners Robert Dagger and Johnny Johnstone.

There is to be an early exit this year for the Bravest Ostrich in the Land and partner Adam Blyth. Unbeaten in the league all season, Adam is unable to hoist the big bird across the winning line in the face of some splendid darts from opponents Alan Ashton and Jeff Walkington from the Cons.

Into the second round and a quick exit for this year’s female entrants, Dean Barker and Roy Gaskell seeing off Joanne Coultas and Margaret Garner, Mike Lovell and Jeff Wright building up a head of steam against Ellie McCaul and Carol Evans.

Last year’s beaten finalists, Carl Simey and Mark Thwaites, make it safely through to the next stage, as indeed do defending champions Lenny and Stan Billington.

Also progressing nicely are Mike Tallentire and Jamie Spore from the Queens Hotel, at the expense of Blasted Heathens top duo Gavin Billington and Al Morley.

Safely through also are Andy Parry Jones and Rob Saunders from the Mount.

2014 winners Steve Riley and Dave Coulborn ease through to round three, as indeed do Mount teammates Cavan Thake and Brian Bond.

Cricketing chums Jimmy Pilling and Darren Rathbone ease through with something to spare, as indeed do Michael Shaw and Mike Gordon from Highbury ‘B’.

Partner Jack Wilson watches in admiration as partner Brad Ashton rattles in a 122 finish to end the interest of doughty opponents Tom Duggan and Rob Melling.

Also winning at this stage are Workingmen’s pairings Reb Hogg and Paul Gair, plus Brian Wood alongside Ian Heslop.

2012 winners Scott Hayton and Ray Connolly ease past Terry beavers and Mike Jackson from the Bowling Club, as do Highbury ‘A’ colleagues Chris and Robert Job.

Completing the third round line up are previous champs Robert Dagger and Johnny Johnstone and defending champs Stan and Lenny Billington.

First through to the quarter final stage are Carl Simey and Mark Thwaites, as they bring to an end the heroics of local pair Dean Barker and Roy Gaskell.

Joining them there are Cavan Thake and Brian Bond, this after they successfully see off fellow Olympians and former winners Steve Riley and Dave Coulborn.

Cricketers Jimmy Pilling and Darren Rathbone continue to progress beneath the radar, the latest duo to be dispatched into the long grass, the embryonic Queens pairing of Brad Ashton and Jack Wilson.

However, it is good to see one Beach Road pairing make it safely through to the last eight, albeit that it is not to be the much fancied Jamie Spore and Mike Tallentire, as they come unstuck against fellow Queens combatants Mike Lovell and Jeff Wright.

Also plodding along nicely are Michael Shaw and Mike Gordon, Reb Hogg and Paul Gair the latest pairing to perish at the hands of the Highbury ‘B’ twosome.

The run of esplanaders Andy Parry Jones and Rob Saunders also comes to a juddering halt, as Scott Hayton and Ray Connolly keep alive their hopes of another appearance on Final’s Night.

Brian Wood and Ian Heslop depart the competition in somewhat acrimonious circumstances at this point, Robert Dagger and Johnny Johnstone making it through to the quarter finals, where they will meet defending champions Stan and Lenny Billington.

The splendid run of Mike Lovell and Jeff Wright finally comes to an end in the first quarter final, opponents Carl Simey and Mark Thwaites remaining on course for consecutive finals.

Also going through at the end of a tense encounter are Jimmy Pilling and Darren Rathbone as they edge past Mount opponents Cavan Thake and Brian Bond.

Highflying Scott Hayton and Ray Connolly are brought crashing to earth in one of the surprise results of the evening, opponents Michael Shaw and Mike Gordon deserved and comfortable 2-0 winners.

Another stratospheric matchup is taking place on the adjoining board as holders Stan and Lenny Billington extend their unbeaten run to eleven matches in finally bringing to an end the exploits of Robert Dagger and Johnny Johnstone.

First through to the final in May are surprise package Jimmy Pilling and Darren Rathbone, this after they bring the run of Highbury ‘A’ duo Carl Simey and Mark Thwaites.

Joining them there will be current holders Stan and Lenny Billington, a tense nervy victory over Michael Shaw and Mike Gordon keeping alive their hopes of becoming the first pairing to win back to back titles since Steve Riley and Frankie Bee in 1982.

Thanks as always to the Cons for the use of the room, to Dave Grigg for helping with the draw, to Neil and Hannah for selling the football cards and to all who contributed to another successful Wildebeest Night.

Thanks for reading.