Darts: Competition at Last!

Work, World Cup and Winning

1986 was a big year for me – it was a year of growing up.

Unemployment in the UK was at its highest since World War 2, the Hand of God intervened in the World Cup and I was about to embark on a journey that would ultimately see me mixing with the (literal) big boys…

– Big Cliff, The Crafty Cockney and Old Stone Face (my dad’s favourite – although I’ve never heard him called that until I read Wikipedia!) are all in my sights, but for now I’ll mostly be playing in the Hants & Dorset league on a Thursday night.

Back then you could get a Saturday job at fourteen and actually get paid money, so I did. I worked in a shoe shop for £1.50 an hour! That works out at £12 for a full days work – and that is less than thirty years ago.
Mexico ’86 was the first World Cup that I took any notice of as well. I was fourteen, it was in Mexico and I saw an opportunity to stay up late with matches kicking off way past my bed time.
I was only allowed to watch the England games if kick-off was late. I remember well Lineker’s hat-trick against Poland, the win against Paraguay in the first knock-out round and of course, that cheating midget footballing genius Argie, Maradona! First he scores a ‘goal’ with the most obvious piece of cheating ever, then he waltzes through pretty much the entire England team before toe-poking it past a hapless Peter Shilton – salt duly added to the wound.

Maradonna scoring the Hand of God goal against England in the Quarter Final of the 1986 World Cup.

The Start of Something Big?

I don’t remember much about my darting debut – I think I won my singles, but I can’t really be sure. I recall winning quite a few singles games in that first season. Of course, I didn’t know anybody so early in my ‘career’ – every match was a journey into the unknown, and this ignorance worked in my favour. I was young and confident and because I didn’t know my opponents from Adam, no match held any fear for me and I was the cocky-upstart that I enjoy beating today, just to put them in their place!

My home venue in that season was CBB Parks club, Maxwell Road, Winton. It’s not there anymore – been knocked down and replaced with housing. To be honest it could just as easily have fallen down as have been pulled down! It was always in a pretty poor state of repair as far as I can remember – all wooden built, inadequate heating and absolutely bloody freezing in the Winter. In fact, towards the end of my time playing there (and definitely towards the end of its lifetime), I can remember there being a hole in the roof so big you could see stars through it!

I don’t remember if the team were successful in that first season, but certainly over the next few years we yo-yo’d between the two divisions – one season experiencing the joy of promotion followed by a season of realising we weren’t actually as good as we’d allowed ourselves to think we were.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave some words of encouragement below, or share your memories of World Cup ’86 perhaps – maybe it was the first World Cup that you ever remember being interested in as well.

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