Back in 2016 Daryl H., a long-time subscriber to my Dr. Darts’ Newsletter (DDN) wrote to me saying:
I read some info in [your] newsletter regarding the News of the World comp. I have…two badges which I suspect are 180 badges of their time. I wonder if you or any of our readers can give me any info on them and as in what year each may be from.
Although I knew that the badges were awarded, as Daryl suggested, for achieving 180, the maximum score achievable with three darts on a standard dartboard, I did not know when the award was first introduced, although I had always assumed it to be before 1939. Thus I referred the matter to a personal contact of mine who knows more about the News of the World tournaments than anyone.
He told me that the Treble 20 Guild was inaugurated in 1938 and the first mention of this award appeared in the programme for the News of the World Darts Championship of Lancashire (there was no national NoW tournament at that time) which was held at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester on Wednesday 27th April. The text reads as follows:
The “News of the World” prize of a set of silver darts for the best individual performance of the week has created enormous enthusiasm among darts fans, so much so that we are continually receiving numerous claims from players scoring 180 with three darts.
These performances, admittedly skilled, are not good enough to win the prize for the best performance of the week, but we consider such play is worthy of recognition.
The “News of the World” has, therefore, inaugurated a TREBLE 20 GUILD. Darts players who succeed in scoring 180 with three consecutive darts, in a friendly or league match, duly witnessed and certified by responsible persons, will receive a specially designed badge, appropriately engraved.
Our Silver Darts Contest for the best performance of the week will, of course, continue as before.
Claims, giving the necessary details, for the Treble 20 Badge should be addressed to “News of the World,” 30, Bouverie Street, London, E.C.4. and “Treble 20 Guild” written in the top left-hand corner of the envelope.
It appears then that the badges were only awarded in 1938 and 1939. The first year the NoW was contested after WW2 was the 1947/48 season. The Divisional programmes for that year refer to certificates being awarded ‘to any player who in a game, match or friendly, scores a maximum – three darts in the treble twenty,’ adding ‘To achieve this is the ordinary darts players’ greatest ambition.’ Contrary to the general belief that women rarely played darts at this time the programmes noted ‘Many women throwers have in recent years qualified for membership of our Treble Twenty Guild.’
Scoring 180s today in major competition or even in local leagues is expected these days but, back in the 1930s and up to the mid-1970s hitting a maximum, given the thickness of brass darts was a cause for celebration. The News of the World clearly acknowledged that through its badges and certificate.
It is believed that the certificates continued to be awarded right up to 1990 when the News of the World sponsorship of darts ceased.
Certainly I have one (pictured) that was sent to me in the 1980s by the News of the World organisers. However, I didn’t actually hit a maximum on that occasion. I merely asked them for a copy for my archive. Please note that I have resisted the temptation to fill it in!
So, were the badges awarded after 1939? Apparently not. I would suggest that the blue and gold badge was the first of the two to be introduced as the black, red and gold version looks more ‘modern’ to me. I could be wrong so, if can clarify the matter, please contact me.
© 2016-2020 Patrick Chaplin
Images (c) Daryl H. Used with permission.
This article was originally published in Dr. Darts’ Newsletter #77, September 2016.
To subscribe to my global, monthly and entirely free Dr. Darts’ Newsletter (DDN) see top right-hand side of this page.