It’s funny how a passing comment can lead to a trip down memory lane or making a new side road from it.
I expect a fair few of my readers can remember a TV programme called Bullseye. Shown early on a Sunday evening, it was a combination of dart celebrities, prizes and charities.
In my day, the top names were John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Jockey Wilson, Mike Gregory and King of Bling Bobby George.
I met Mike Gregory when he was doing the rounds raising money for a baby scanner. You could play him for £1 which went to the charity. If you won, he gave you your money back out of his own pocket and put another pound in the charity box.
I started playing as a ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’, kind of thing.
Ex partner played two or three times a week leaving me to look after his kids (yeah, mug).
Anyway, I was asked to play for the ladies side of the team he did and as it was on a different night to his, thought why not.
I’d often played my Dad at the working men’s club before entertaining the old boys with my piano playing in the 70s and had belonged to a ladies team with my sister when I was married first.
When I went on my banking course, I played all the guys (120 of them) at weekends and beat most of them, not that I was particularly good, just a quick thinker and getting my shot in before the brain could really think about aiming (and then missing). If I ended up on double 1 and didn’t get it after 6 darts though, my opponent had the game. Best shot out was 112, a little unorthodox to the professionals with 5 (missed treble 20), treble 19 and the bullseye. I think I was the most surprised at that.
Thus in Days before Hubby, we had a home and away board in the house, Home being downstairs in the hall, and Away being upstairs in the boys bedroom.
I scored the magical 180 once, but no-one was there to see it. But I did, honest.
One weekend whilst practicing for an open tournament, the Ex and I played on both boards and for once I hammered him. Best of 5 stretched to 7, then 9, and I stopped at 23 as he hadn’t yet reached double figures. He hated that, not being beaten by a woman, but being beaten by little old me.
He went away on one of his darting weekends with the lads and ended up playing John Lowe, again for a charity. He lost and apparently sulked for the rest of the weekend.
The day of my Open Tournament came and I went on my own. I was doing really well, down to the last 16 and if I won my next game, I was in the prize money! Yeeha!
Who should come in but Partner who had promised to stay at home. The penalties of having a car each I suppose.
Anyway, he started knocking back the beer, and my next match was against a team mate. We were evenly matched and it went to the third leg. I could hear him passing nasty and embarrassing comments behind me and lost the game as I couldn’t get my final double. It was a close thing though.
For the next ten minutes I was subjected to his drunken accusations of deliberately losing so that I wouldn’t have to share the prize money! The whole day was ruined for me and I left him there, so never saw the final or who eventually won. He arrived home late in the evening and when he stumbled up the stairs, I pretended to be asleep.
The ladies team I played for won both Summer and Winter leagues over the next few years and I won a few more games than I lost, it was a night out for me and I enjoyed the company. Soon the number of ladies darts trophies on the shelf exceeded his, but of course it was ‘because the members of the team I played for had contributed the most victories’.
I eventually left the relationship taking with me something like 14 trophies, some happy memories and discovered I had a lot of friends on both the men and women’s darts teams.
So, here I am almost full circle.
The lady next door has asked me if I would play for their team as they are finding it difficult to get players. The game of play is slightly different to when I played before, though at least it’s still Straight in Double out from a 501 down. It seems you play one single game, then best of three with pairs but no team 1001.
It’s been almost 30 years since I last threw an arrow, so obviously my 32g tungsten darts of yesteryear are well and truly gone. I’ve forked out a tenner for a new set though, weighing in at 23g.
Where to practice is going to be interesting. Hubby is all for putting a board up in the house. Where might be a problem. Still, I have a couple of weeks before the first match, and provided it’s not going to cost a lot in transport or subscriptions to play, it should be fun. I need the exercise picking the damn things up from the floor!