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Article: Darts News From Around the West Midlands by Alan Towe

Darts News From Around the West Midlands by Alan Towe

Brian Johnson

Following my previous report about Brian Johnson retiring as County Secretary for the Warwickshire County Darts Organisation, Brian has made a few comments himself about the time spent with Warwickshire. He began by saying he has spent a tremendous 46 years with the county, 33 of them as County Secretary and his decision to step-down was an extremely difficult one. He went on to say throughout his time with Warwickshire he had many good memories and had met many great people within the darts fraternity.

Brian went on to say “I have worked with many of the top players, such as John Lowe, Jockey Wilson, Eric Bristow, Alan Evans, Leyton Rees and the list goes on. I started with the County as a stage hand, erecting the equipment and progressed through the years to selector, merchandising, competition secretary, super-league delegate, and rising up to County secretary. I have enjoyed all of these positions, but as I say, time catches up with us all. I feel this is the right time to exit, as I’m not too pleased with the situation with the BDO and other organisations but whichever way the County decides to go, I will support them.

In 2014 I was awarded the BDO official of the year, which was a great honour.

I wish the County continued success in the coming years, once a Bear always a Bear”.

Subsequent to Brian’s resignation there was a huge reaction from Warwickshire players and here are a few of their complimentary comments.

Nigel Heydon: Mr Warwickshire thank you for your hard work and dedication all these years. You have supported us home and away for 35+ years, amazing Brian. I definitely wouldn’t be the player I am today if you hadn’t been there for us at our great county. Thank you.

Marian Conway: Brian was one of the first Warwickshire committee members to welcome me into the squad. His dedication to Warwickshire seniors and youth is shown in the work and support his gives every player. Brian enjoy your retirement; you will be missed xxx.

Kevin Dowling: Brian Johnson. Legend is perhaps an overused word in darts, but in the case of Brian it is totally justified.

I started playing Warwickshire super league back in 1983, joined the county in 1992 and throughout my involvement (37 years) Brian has been a constant on the county committee. He has always worked tirelessly whether behind the scenes attending to business, helping to run competition nights, running super league teams or moving stage equipment around on county weekends. He strived to make sure that everything within Warwickshire was run efficiently and judging by the respect that we receive from other counties within the BICC that mission has been accomplished!

From a personal perspective I have enjoyed plenty of banter with Brian over the years regarding Coventry City/Aston Villa games and the frailties of the England and Warwickshire Bears batting line ups, often ending with a dour BJ one liner to put me in my place!

There have been lots of county officials that I have respected over the years, but hopefully none of them will mind when I say that Brian sits firmly on top of the pile for me. He has been and is Mr Warwickshire.

Brian your efforts have been greatly appreciated by me, not to mention thousands of others I am sure and hopefully your legacy will continue well into the future. Enjoy your retirement from committee business and I will see you at the bar for a fruit juice (or maybe something stronger?) sometime soon. All the best,

Kev Dowling.

Antony Allen: Just to say I wish Brian all the best and a massive thank you for all he has done for me and for Warwickshire

Sheila Alford: Brian will be sadly missed from the world of darts that he has put his life into. He has been a huge part of Warwickshire Darts.

I have always the greatest respect for Brian, a quiet man, always willing to listen and would do everything possible to ensure venues went smoothly.

Caroline Pike: Brian what can i say, Coventry versuss Birmingham oh the rivalry!!! 30 years ago but feels like yesterday. You encouraged me and supported me for years and I will never forget you for all your encouragement. You were a fantastic advocate of women’s darts!

I hope you will still come to a county game when you can it won’t be the same without you. I don’t remember county without you. Thanks for all your commitment to Warwickshire and the players and for being my friend. Love Caroline xxx.

Steve Hine: Brian all I can really say is a county legend and an amazing man despite being a Villa fan! Also how commendable it is for the service you’ve given Warwickshire over the years.

Angela Jones: Brian, enjoy your retirement, you deserve a break after all the time you have so selflessly dedicated to Warwickshire. You’re a tough act to follow and I know I have big boots to fill but I’ll give it my best and hope I do the job justice.”

Bernie Strong: Brian you will be sorely missed so enjoy your retirement but please don’t be a stranger PS Angela will do you proud.

Donna Pinch: Brian I am truly grateful to you, if it wasn’t for you I would never have played county. You are an amazing man, thank you for having so much faith in me. I really hope you now enjoy your retirement. I would say rest but I know you don’t do that! All the best Brian, don’t be a stranger at county. See you soon. Lots of love.

Vicki Cross (Captain Parkstone ‘A’ Men’s Super League Team): Thank you Brian for all your dedication and hard work for Warwickshire Senior County and Super League, you will be missed so much by us all, enjoy your retirement.

Vicki Cross (Team Manager Warwickshire County Youth Team): Warwickshire Youth made you our President a couple of years ago, a position that you cannot retire from, we are very lucky to have your support and encouragement to our younger players coming through.

Sue MacLennan: Happy retirement Brian and thank you for all your help running the ladies competitions with myself.

Carl Green: Throughout the whole time that Rugby have had a Super League team, we remember Brian as a very hard working member of the committee, whether he was running competition’s, putting up boards and taking them down again usually very late at night and his hard work on county weekends. So from Rugby we hope Brian has a long and happy retirement and hope VILLA don’t make him too miserable!”

Neil Pritchard: To this point in my county position I took on the chairman's job in 2000 and was instantly guaranteed full backing from Brian. Never a day gone by since has that notion ever been broken. A man I've relied heavily on for a long time, without his commitment I doubt my job would have been as easy as was. For the years of graft and guile he can only be given one word to describe and that is LEGEND. Brian thank you.

Sarah West (Warwickshire Darts Organisation): I believe you can see from this just how everyone feels about you Brian Johnson. He is such a gent a Villa man and Warwickshire man through and through but also a true family man. That’s always something else that’s shone through, the pride you have of all your family.

Don’t be a stranger Mr J as we shall all miss you immensely.

Mick Lyden

The darting world of the Midlands mourns the death of a well-known and extremely popular Mick Lyden, who on the 14th August at the age of 65 passed away suddenly but peacefully in his sleep with a suspected massive heart attack.

Mick, known to many by his nickname “Salad Dodger” was born in Middlesbrough but later moved down to live in Quinton, Birmingham, he was a notable figure throughout darts and well known for his larger than life charisma and infectious sense of humour.

Mick played for many pubs and clubs in various league and to mention but a few they were the Hillyfields and Quinton Members Club in the Harborne League, Alvechurch Club in the Bromsgrove League, the Bell in the Halesowen League, West Heath C.E.M in the Birmingham South West Birmingham Clubs League, Stirchley United in the Worcestershire Super League, Midland Red in the Warwickshire Super League the list goes on, plus he also did lots for charity as a member of the Sports Argus and Air Ambulance charity squads, his mischievous personality winning him friends wherever he played.

In 2002 with partner Stephen “Spag” Pasetti he won the coveted Harborne League Doubles title beating Jimmy Goode and Bruce Davenport in the final, just one of his many victories.

Mick leaves behind sons Michael and Matthew plus daughter Abbie, he was a man who was loved by many, he would do anything for anyone nothing was ever too much trouble for him.

Due to government guidelines only 30 people were allowed into the crematorium. Son Michael obviously had to put family first on the list and any remaining places were offered to friends of his late father.

After leaving the family home Mick’s funeral car and the following motorcade stopped outside the Weoley Castle Working Men’s Club for around 4 to 5 minutes where his friends were able to show their respect.
Following the funeral service the family returned to the club for the wake, Mick’s son Michael having given an open invitation to all of his late father's friends to join them in a celebration of his life.

Rest in Peace Mick you will be sorely missed by your family, friends and all of the darts fraternity.

Dave Allcock

Derbyshire too are mourning the loss of one of their top players in the form Dave Allcock who just a few days before his 48th birthday passed away with heart complications.

Dave was born and raised in Codnor, Derbyshire by his mom and dad Betty and Harold and as a youngster kept pigeons. His other interests included fishing and heavy metal music but his real passion was darts. Dave began playing darts in local leagues and open pair’s competitions, winning quite a few titles on the way before signing up for his local Super League team in which his immediate glittering form earned him an invite to play for his beloved county Derbyshire. On the county scene Dave was an instant success which impacted on everyone around him, his passion, personality and infectious smile apparent throughout all of his playing days.

Dave’s favourite all-time player was Gerwyn Price whom he met when he was a VIP guest at a darts exhibition.

Dave (Boom Boom) Allcock was a devoted family man leaving behind partner Vicky, daughter Ebony and son Thomas plus a great many close friends all of whom will sadly miss him

Rest in Peace Dave Allcock you passed away all too soon at the tender age of 47.

West Midlands County Darts Organisation are mourning the death of one of their most prolific workers in the form of Dot Harvey. Eighty-six year old Dot had a fall a couple of years ago and never really recovered from that and oly a few months ago she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

In September 2003 Dot resigned from county work after being associated with the West Midlands for in excess of twenty years, a magnificent accomplishment. For sixteen of those years she has been the county secretary. She has achieved a remarkable record throughout her twenty plus years in so much as she has only missed one game, a true sign of her dedication and devotion to the county and I believe under the circumstances at that time she can be excused for her one leave of absence due to the fact that she had only been discharged from hospital the previous day.

Dot has been a martyr to the cause for the West Midlands, not only travelling the length and breadth of the country in all weathers, but also for her commitment in ensuring that everything ran smoothly. She would organise the travelling to away venues, the setting up and running of numerous competitions together with uncountable other tasks including the successful running of the youth teams for which she and her husband Rod covered the majority of the expense.

I would personally like to thank Dot for her help and assistance over the years in providing invaluable information for my column in this very magazine and at the same time helping to get the name of the West Midlands spread far and wide.

I’m sure everyone who knew Dot will join me in saying a big Thank You for all her devoted dedication and passion for the West Midlands County Darts Organisation and darts in general.

Rest in Peace Dot Harvey, all of our condolences and sympathies go to husband Rod and the rest of the family.

Despite Corona Virus, despite lockdown and the shutting down of pubs and clubs throughout the land rising up out of all of the chaos, doom and gloom has been the Derbyshire Darts Isolation League which was the brain-child Jordan Beresford.

Jordan said “I organise and play in all different dart related leagues/competitions etc and had the idea with the pubs and venues shutting down to see who would be up for playing darts from home online and create a little league to keep our arms in as such. I’ve been a fan of DartConnect since day one and decided to try out their online leagues programme and it’s absolutely incredible and did exactly what I needed to make it work. So I advertised what I had planned and the beauty of the league was that you can play your matches anytime that suits you with mutual agreement with your opponent. The first season was a huge trial and error however it worked fantastically having 26 players join including the likes of Colin Osborne & Jamie Caven. Everyone in the group streams their games live for everyone else to see to cancel out any form of cheating. We played each other once and had 6 leg matches, a point a leg. Our first seasons champion was Darron Brown, one of Derbyshire’s finest! Everyone enjoyed the league so much, and as we were all still in lockdown I went in for Season 2. The interest gained and we cut it off at 40 players, coming out champion on his debut season and a great player in Dave Ladley. After this it continued to grow and grow and I knew I had to cut the amount of games down so I decided to create separate divisions with promotion and relegation making up three divisions of 17 players, totalling 51 players. Darron Brown came out on top yet again in the Premier Division, Young up and coming Derbyshire superstar fourteen year old Henry Coates won Division One and Kevin Reddington snapped up the Division Two title.

Into Season 4 we broadened the divisions into four and had 13 players in each with players playing two scheduled fixtures a week over a four weeks period. Our champion was Nigel Daniels in the Premier, Lee Stanley in Division One, Bill Schooley in Division Two and Josh Wilmot in Division Three. Having it like this made the divisions so brilliant for all different standards making every game so close and players fighting for the win in every match. We are now currently in season 5 and with pubs re opening we have slightly dropped off in numbers which was expected however there are lots of players still fully enjoying playing at home and its quite easily proven to be the best practice you can get! We are planning to continue the league forward”.

Full marks to Jordan who has done a fantastic job to keep Derbyshire professional and amateur players alike playing darts in what has been the most trying and difficult times throughout the history of our great game.

Another league to spring up out of the chaos is the newly formed Gilberts Bar (Willenhall) Monday Individual Darts League organised and created by Simon Pritchard. However this league will not be an online league it will actually take place at Gilberts Bar on Monday nights as the bar have put in place hand sanitizers and made all of the players aware of all of the precautions including the one metre social distancing rule.

As this magazine goes into print the league got underway on the 14th September the format being the best of eight legs with a point for each winning leg and two bonus points for the actual overall win with one for a draw. Look out for an update of the league in the next issue of Darts World and how players have coped with the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

There will be a total prize pot in excess of £3,000 and chasing the top prize will be county, super league and local pub players namely Jamie Aplin, Joe Bartolo, Jon Blakemore, Dan Bridgwood, Reece Cook-Lucas, Martin East, Neal Farrant, Sophie Fawcett, Eddie Gripton, Danny Hall, Shaun Hartopp, Alex Howells, Ben Johnson, Steve Jones, Steve Lynch, Artur Lubkowski, Andy Matthews, Phil Mayo, Sarah Parker, Bailey Phipps, Ant Powell, Martin Price, Shane Price, Michele Pritchard, Simon Pritchard, John Simms, Adam Teasdale, Paul Vaughan, Riley Ward, Roger Ward, Neil Wild and Luke Wildman.

On the county scene and with regards to the alternative to the BDO I have received the following copy letter from Angela Jones the General Secretary of the Warwickshire County Darts Organisation.


Warwickshire Darts Organisation have great pleasure in announcing we are to join United Kingdom Darts Association (UKDA) From the offset, with three organisations vying to take on the challenge of running the BICC, it was important for us to be patient and take the time needed to allow all organisations to release their proposals and subsequent updates. We felt as an Organisation, an individual player vote would not capture the majority of our membership so instead the voting right was given to each of our Superleague teams. This way, with all Team Managers going to every player and speaking to them about the options, we were gaining the opinions of those it affects most and asking the Team Manager to vote on behalf of their players. Although the vote was not unanimous, it was heavily weighted towards UKDA and we ask that any member who was not previously committed to UKDA joins us in looking towards the future. Having followed UKDA's progress on Social Media, we are excited to join the ever-growing organisation and its other member counties who we have seen support each other as they take the next step. The future of county darts is looking bright with a new energy, a new focus and a new enthusiasm. When the restrictions allow, we are all looking forward to getting our county weekends back up and running. In the meantime, we will keep you updated of any news as the necessary changes come in to effect. Stay safe and we'll hopefully be seeing you all soon. Yours sportingly WARWICKSHIRE DARTS ORGANISATION

Officials for the forthcoming season are, Life President: Brian Johnson, President: Sheila Alford, Vice Presidents: Audrey Allen, Margaret Fish, Les Ball, Men's Super League Secretary: Neil Pritchard, Ladies Super League Secretary: Sue Maclennan, WDO Committee: Antony Allen, Pete Allen, Vicki Cross, Melanie Jones, Colin Laffar, Caroline Pike, Donna Pinch, Bernie Strong, Sean Turner.

So Warwickshire now become another county to swap their allegiance from the British Darts Organisation to join the ever increasing number of counties moving over to the newly formed United Kingdom Darts Association together with two other of the counties I cover in Darts World Derbyshire and Shropshire.

With regards to the other three counties I represent in Darts World Derbyshire, Shropshire and West Midlands, like Warwickshire they too have decided to join the United Kingdom Darts Association for the forthcoming inaugural season. Derbyshire were quick off the mark to join the new organisation being the very first team to add their name to the list closely followed by third placed Shropshire. Warwickshire lingered a little longer before making their minds up and came in at number 28 while West Midlands were late comers but did eventually decide to join the UKDA after originally opting to stay with the BDO.

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