Strange But True
In the late 1990s in Merseyside, England an unusual occurrence is recorded at the movies. A young couple cuddled up to each other during an horrific scene in a scary movie. A victim was being struck by a succession of knives. As the third one struck home and the couple cuddled closer, a comedian shouted from the back row, "One hundred and eiiiiiiighteeeee!"
Who says old dartboards are worthless? Amongst collectable pop memorabilia search your loft for the Apple Corporation’s dartboard which the Beatles – the Fab Four - used to give away to friends and employees. Bearing the legend ‘Apple Records’ at the top and the Apple logo centred on the bullseye one sold at auction in the late 1980s for £720 ($1,152).
STAMP OF APPROVAL
One of the few countries to ever feature darts on their stamps was the Republic of Yemen. It produced a series of four sports-related stamps to commemorate the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. These included stamps featuring darts and table tennis, neither of which was a recognised Olympic sport at the time. (Things don’t change do they?).
During the late 1970s an ‘urban myth’ developed that tungsten darts could not be sharpened in the same way as brass darts and that a special sharpener was needed. Dart points for tungsten darts were, of course, made of the same silver steel as brass darts and therefore standard sharpening methods could be used.
IT’S THE PITS!
Believe it or not, in the 1930s, as darts increased in popularity, English pubs had to adapt to the game as best they could. Some smaller pubs experienced some real difficulties. At one pub in Kent players played across the pub entrance, whilst in Long Compton, Oxfordshire the game was played with a large table in the way. In Ruislip, at a pub called ‘The Case is Altered’, the ceiling of the pub was too low so darters had to stand in a pit to play.
‘Those Who Live by the Dart…’
In a pub in Essex, England during the mid-1980s a woman darts player collapsed and died on the oche.
The lady had been playing darts for a Ladies’ Licensed Victuallers’ Association team in a vital league match. Although she was playing in the last game of the match, and her team had secured victory so there was no real pressure, the unfortunate lady went to throw, paused, held her head and collapsed on the oche. When the ambulance arrived minutes later she was declared dead.
Her landlady was reported as saying, "She passionately loved darts."
Baby Born on the Oche
During a rush to hospital in the 1990s, a Suffolk man and his pregnant wife were forced to stop at a local pub as the woman's labour became too advanced.
They rushed in and, having no time to move her upstairs to bed, the landlord grabbed a quilt and settled her down beneath the dartboard. Shortly afterwards a 7lb 10oz son was born on the pub’s dart mat.
Flights of Fancy
The first-ever international exchange day for darts flight collectors was held at the Café Wolkshuis, Vilvoorde in Belgium on 31 August, 1986.
The technical name for flight collectors is belopterophilist and flight collecting is increasing in popularity. Belopterophilists collect flights in the same way as many people collect stamps or coins. Indeed the coin albums are used to store flights, except of course the feather flights.
Flight collecting has enthusiasts across the world, especially in Germany, Holland, USA and Canada. World class ‘top flight’ flight collector, Marc Van den Avond of Belgium, has ‘many thousands’ of flights in his collection and swaps hundreds with fellow collectors every year.
Taking Your Work Home
In the west of England in the late 1980s a departmental store security guard just could not help taking his work home with him.
When he was eventually found out, police raided his home and found over 2,000 stolen items hoarded throughout his home, in his loft, garage and greenhouse. More than a dozen policemen took over five hours to carry the goods away from his house.
The hoard included 125 paintbrushes, 4 electric toasters, 9 battery chargers, four dozen boxes of candles, more than 100 golf balls, in excess of 200 electrical fuses, 80 shirts, 15 sets of darts and two dartboards.
Evidence of Alien Darters?
Some people take their obsession with darts to extremes and none more so than the ‘creatures from another planet’ who allegedly tried to communicate with the human race by producing a corn circle in the shape of dartboard in a field next to the M4 near Swindon, England in 1993.
A local corn circle ‘expert’ suggested that the extraterrestrial beings had clearly given up trying to communicate with scientists and academics with their more complex designs and had turned their attention to ‘a design recognisable by everyone on the entire planet.’
When the 12-strong ‘Top Bull’ pub darts team from near Bolton, England won the Bury and District Darts League in the early 1990s, they hired an open-top bus for two hours the following Sunday to celebrate. Bedecked with ribbons and bunting, the bus carried the victorious team – cup held aloft – through the local streets.
Pub landlord and team player Dave Cubbin is reported to have said, “Manchester United had an open-top bus to mark winning the Premier [English football] league and so did Bolton Wanderers when they clinched promotion to Division One. We reckon our victory is just as great a sporting triumph!"
Dave’s wife Jan revealed one of the secret weapons in the Top Bull’s team armoury. His name was Jimmy Ferrymound – aged 63. Jan told a reporter, “His secret is in his pipe. He keeps it in his mouth when he throws his arrows.”
The Missing Maximums
In the 1973 News of the World championships, held at the Alexandra Palace, London, not one maximum score of 180 was achieved. However, the 12,000 dart fanatics gathered at the 'Ally Pally' did see nine 140s and forty-nine 'tons' registered. The winner that year was Ivor Hodgkinson (Midland Counties) who beat London and Home Counties Champion Ron Church 2-1 in the Final.
© 2007 Patrick Chaplin
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