Patrick Chaplin: Players Past & Present

Where are they now - Trevor Peachey

In this latest article in an occasional series seeking out the darts champions of the past Darts Historian Patrick Chaplin tracks down one from half a century ago.

News Of The World Logo

TREVOR PEACHEY – 1956 NEWS OF THE WORLD CHAMPION

Trevor Peachey News Of The World Champion 1955 - 56

In April more or less exactly 50 years ago Trevor Peachey, a 26-year old nurseryman from Suffolk, stepped up on to the stage at the Empress Hall, Earls Court, London and became News of the World Champion for 1956.

Even before his appearance in the Grand Finals he had shown early promise in the 1947/48 season, when he became the Ipswich Area Champion at the age of 18. But it was in the early 1950s that Trevor showed his real prowess being runner-up in the Ipswich Area in 1953/54, Ipswich Area Champion again in 1954/55 and once more in 1955/56 when he then went on to lift the trophy that every dart player in the land wanted to win.

Trevor PeacheyTrevor Peachey with his full set of News of the World trophies, from Area to Grand Finals.

Trevor was born at Thurston, Suffolk on 7th September 1929. His father, Andrew, was an insurance agent and had fought in the Great War as a member of the Royal Engineers and gained the Military medal and Bar. Trevor’s mother worked in service at nearby Shotley whilst his grandmother ran The Victoria pub in Thurston.

Trevor first took up his darts when he went into Ipswich one day with his friend Bobby Austin and bought a set of three loose brass darts in Woolworth’s for 3s 3d (about 16p). Not only did Trevor begin to play regularly but he kept the same set of darts and even won the News of the World with them years later. He practised at the Black Fox Inn, Thurston and regularly played friendly matches, the team including his brother-in-law Wally Greatbatch; a direct relation to Sandra and Shaun Greatbatch.

Trevor told me recently, “When I first started playing in the Black Fox, the lighting for the dartboard was a paraffin lamp hanging on the wall. To stop the light shining in your face they put a cigarette card in it to cover it up a bit.” The lamp was later replaced by a cleaner, more efficient tilly lamp which worked off of a gas cylinder. As Trevor pointed out “There was no electricity or gas in the village at that time.” It was from the Black Fox that Trevor regularly entered the News of the World Championship.

Trevor Peachey1948 and a champion in the making. Trevor aged 18 admires yet another ‘ton.

His best year came in the 1955/56 season when Trevor made it to the Grand Finals. A couple of coach loads of supporters travelled down to London to witness Trevor taking on the best darters the country had to offer. With his 18grm brass darts he beat Herbert Morris (Lancashire and Cheshire Divisional champion and 1953 Grand Finalist) in the Quarter Finals 2-0 - Trevor scoring a ton-forty along the way – and then saw off a strong challenge from Yorkshire champion Frank Radforth 2-1 in the semis. In the Final Trevor met Wales’ Les Campbell and white-washed the Welshman 2-0, Trevor saying that Les had ‘wire trouble.’ So there was no singing in the valleys that night but plenty on the coaches on the way home to Suffolk.

Of the atmosphere at Earls’ Court, Trevor described it as “Brilliant!” Not surprising when there was a crowd estimated at ‘about 11,000’ there to support the eight Grand Finalists. The British and Empire Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Don Cockell, presented Trevor with the News of the World trophy which he lifted aloft to the shouts and applause of his supporters and the rest of the crowd. His supporters then gathered round and lifted him aloft and, carrying him shoulder high, took him on a triumphant lap of honour of the venue. Of the celebrations that followed Trevor told me “My friends celebrated all night. They were drinking themselves silly.” And Trevor? “No. I was never a heavy drinker. I stayed sober. I only drank one bottle of light ale all day. I never drink when I’m playing as I have to concentrate and drinking doesn’t help. But I enjoyed the day. Winning the cup’s the main thing. Money you just spend and then it’s forgotten.”

The following year Trevor embarked on his next News of the World campaign, but fell at the first hurdle. He recalled recently, “I was knocked out in the house round at the Black Fox by an eighteen year old boy named Ian Crick.” But that setback did not persuade Trevor to hang up his darts; he continued to play darts until the late 1990s and enter the News of the World until the early 1980s. He told me “I should have won that News of the World trophy more.”

The Black Fox is no longer a pub and Trevor no longer plays darts but he still takes a close interest in the sport. He now lives in retirement in Coventry with his wife Phyllis who he married in 1957 and spends as much time as he can employing his nurseryman skills in his own garden; proudly telling me “I currently have over 1,000 plants in my greenhouse; all grown from seed.”

Looking back on his success in darts (he was at the time the youngest ever winner of the News of the World, has nine NoW medals and numerous other medals and trophies to his name and played for Warwickshire county for some years) his only regret is that he never hit a nine-darter. But he can seek some solace in the fact that he did hit a six-dart 301. “It was in Shropshire. It was double in. Arthur Hiller was the caller. I doubled in with double top and then two treble twenties. 160. I then went treble twenty, treble nineteen, double twelve and the roof nearly came off the place. I didn’t realise what I’d done until I said to Arthur “What’s all that about?” and he said “You’ve just done a six-darter you bloody fool!” I hadn’t realised what I had done!”

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© Patrick Chaplin 2006