It is 216 B.C.
In the office of Proverbs R Us, Aesop lays down his quill.
“March roars in like a lion and leaves like a lamb”, he says to Homer.
“Maximus, the captain of the Acropolis chariot team.”
“They were top of the Athens League at the end of February.”
“It’s all gone to pot.”
John Shaw, skipper of Highbury ‘A’ and Maximus are kindred spirits.
For, just like the charioteers, his darters are also on top of the table.
But then February ends and March turns up like a bad penny.
A well earned point at the Mount at the start of the month is acceptable.
A home defeat to the Gaz Whitehead inspired Collapsibles is decidedly not.
So it is that Dockers ‘A’ pull three points clear of the frustrated footballers.
Top stick Adam Blyth duly records win number 25 of the season.
He now requires just a solitary point to secure a fourth averages title.
Pulling level with the Highbury in second spot are defending champions the Cons.
Steve Hadgraft is best on the night as they sweep aside hosts the Queens, with Jamie Spore a solitary success story for the home side.
Still harbouring hopes of coming through on the rails are the Olympians.
A 6-2 Rob Saunders inspired victory over the Femme Fatales just about keeps them in the hunt.
Ellie McCaul is best for the ladies, who sadly look doomed to finish bottom of the pile again this year.
Dockers ‘B’ move into fifth spot, this after Mitch Blyth secures a 5-3 victory with the final darts of their match away to the Blasted Heathens.
Mark Mizon is adjudged top Taverner, this after severely hindering Gareth Bidder’s pursuit of teammate Chris Blyth Junior.
Also enjoying a successful night on the road are the Biased Boys.
Steve Stanhope is effortlessly efficient for the 6-2 winners, with a 107 check out by Jimmy Pilling the highlight of the Cricket Club’s evening.
Andy Gratrix is finishing the season strongly for the Strawberry.
An eighth man of the match performance helps the Poulton Road outfit easily see off the challenge of visitors the Ashley.
Thankfully, the triumphant return of Trevor Eaves helps dispel any despondency amongst the peripatetic ranks.
Steve Gray maintains his tremendous form for the Workingmens as they take on visitors Highbury ‘B’.
Having built up a head of steam at 3-0 the good, the Orientals look to be losing the plot when John Shaw goes out on 116 to tie the match at 3-3.
Thankfully for the denizens of Kemp Street, Ian Heslop and Geoff Ball are around to take both remaining legs for a nervy 5-3 victory.
This week, it is semi finals night in both the Team Knockout and Plate.
And first up are the March Malcontents from Highbury ‘A’.
At the halfway point, their tie against Dockers ‘A’ is perfectly poised, this after Highbury wins for Mark Thwaites and Carl Simey and a brace of opposition successes for Tom Duggan and Lee Shewan.
In front at 3-2 edge the Dockers, courtesy of Rob Melling.
That advantage immediately disappears when Scott Hayton takes out Adam Blyth to level things in game six.
Alas, however, that is as good as it gets for the frustrated footballers as Mark’s Smith and Shewan secure the victory that keeps Moses McCann and the Dockerites firmly on track for the Promised Land.
Joining them on Finals Night are last year’s winners Fleetwood Cons.
Another tight encounter, ebbs one way and then another, before last pairing Alan Ashton and Brian Bond from the Mount take to the oche.
With the Cons poised at 4-3 to the good, a win for Alan will take them through to the final.
Straining every sinew Brian pursues his doughty opponent all the way, but is ultimately unable to stop the Lotharian from securing victory at 5-3.
Meanwhile, in the Plate, the Blasted Heathens and Workingmens are going at it hammer and tongs upon the esplanade.
An opening win for Tavern skipper Pete Hornby over Steve Gray is not the start hoped for by the Orientals.
Pretty soon the score reads 2-0, this after a splendid performance by Gavin Billington.
Although Phil Lee halves the deficit in game three, before long the Heathens reach the halfway point 3-1 to the good courtesy of Chris Garton.
Into the second period and things begin to get exciting when Brian Wood reduces the advantage to 3-2.
But back into a two legs lead surge the Taverners, victory for Al Morley moving them to within touching distance of the final.
Still though, the Workies refuse to submit, as Brian Wilson enjoys a few good vibrations upon the oche.
Sadly, this is to be as close as they are to get as last man Ian Baron eases home to book a place in the final for the happy heathens.
Facing them at the Cons in May will be the Queens Hotel.
A disappointing contest easily goes the way of the Beach Road Boys, as opponents Highbury ‘B’ struggle desperately to locate their finishing doubles.
At the end of the match only Roy Stephenson is able to return in triumph from the oche for the Highbury, with Andy Johnstone, Brad Ashton, Mike Tallentire, Jeff Wright and Jamie Spore all successful for the Queens.
For those interested in local darts trivia, “Reflex” by Duran Duran was top of the charts the last time the Queens Hotel made an appearance on Final’s Night.
It was 1984 when they lost to the Mount Vaults in the Team Knockout, had Colin Ingledew in the Individual Final and both pairs in the Doubles Final. Winners Mick Hoole and Dave Coulborn beat teammates Steve Latus and Geoff Coulborn on what must have been a pretty special night for the Beach Road hostelry.
Thanks for reading.