Every one has their favourite, most memorable darts match, be it a personal success in a local league or national competition or a particular game involving one of the darting stars of the past or present. From an historic point of view there are a number of Dart Milestones.
Few people today would recognise the name Sammy Stone, but Sammy of the New South-West Club, won the very first News of the World competition in 1928. Only 1,000 dart-players entered at the time, entries being restricted to the London Metropolitan area. However, by 1939 the competition was regional and over one quarter of a million darters toed the oche seeking darting glory. The London & South regional final that year saw Jim Pike, (Windmill Club, Southwark), take on Marmaduke ‘Dukey’ Brecon (Jolly Sailor, Hamworth, Middlesex.). An audience of 17,000 people – a record for any darting event ever – crammed into the Royal Agricultural Hall, London and watched the favourite, Pike, lose 2-1 to Brecon.
As with the recent Barneveld – Taylor confrontation, the people demanded it.
Frank Wolfe, Editor of The Dart, was the man who managed to organise ‘The Darts Match of the Century’. The clash – 1,001-up best of three, straight start, double finish – took place at Acton Town Hall on 2nd September 1946 in front of over 1,000 fans, some of whom had paid more that £2 for a seat! After two games it was level. In the tense decider Pike left himself five ‘to rip’ and then hit double 17 when going for a winning out on double 2, sending the crowd delirious and his fans proclaiming him ‘Champion of the World’. The Pike/Hitchcock Head-to-Head was repeated the following year. Hitchcock won again, this time 2-0. His winning outshot was 5 – going out double one, single one, double one.
Tom Barrett’s victory in the 1964-65 News of the World, when he retained his individual title at Alexandra Palace with 2-1 win over Leicestershire’s Norman Fielding, is an established part of darts history. A marvellous achievement later emulated by Eric Bristow (1982-83 & l983-84) and Mike Gregory (1986-87 & 1987-88). But there is something special about Barrett’s win in a Sixties darts world devoid of professionals.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s there were many memorable matches and individual performances (e.g Bristows amazing run of success in the Embassy in the 1980s and John Lowe’s first televised perfect 9-dart 501 in 1984) but who will ever forget the Mike Gregory – Phil Taylor final in 1992? The thirty two finalists included no less than six previous winners of the championship. The game went right to the wire with the advantage seesawing between the two players until Taylor finally shot out with double top to win his second Embassy and collect a cheque for £28,000.
These are just some of the historic darts milestones. The match between Barnevelde and Taylor will also make darting history – a clash that took the sport into the new Millennium. A match that decided the true Champion of the World …….. but this is another story……..
© Patrick Chaplin 1999