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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

As the year quickly draws to an end we will be seeing out the old and ringing in the new but in the world of darts this has already happened as the old British Darts Organisation has been replaced by the new, exciting and adventurous United Kingdom Darts Association.

In its inaugural season the UKDA has attracted no fewer than 53 teams. Paul Marsh, the Chief Operations Manager will be overlooking the five various regions, each with a regional operations manager. The regions are made up of for the North (with Claire Stamper Operations Manager), Cheshire, Cleveland, County Durham, Cumbria, Humberside, Lancashire, Merseyside, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Wirral and Yorkshire. Andy Walsh is the Operations Manager for the Central region of Black Country, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Midlands. Wales/Central Operations Manager Stephen Greenwood will have under his control Breconshire, Clwyd, Glamorgan, Gwent, Gwynedd, Montgomery and Radnor, Pembrokeshire, Salopian, Shropshire and Worcestershire while Richard Biggs South East teams are Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, London, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Surrey. Last but by no means least, Karen Brown will be the South West Operations Manager looking after Berkshire, Cornwall Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset, Sussex, West of England and Wiltshire.

Making up the fifteen-strong management team will be Oliver Croft jnr (President), Morgan Barrell (Founder and Head of Marketing and Social Media), Colin Savage (Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Johnny Stefano (Chairman), Claire Stamper (Commercial Director and North Region Operations Manager), Davie Hanson (Events Director), Tony Martin (Players Director), Cat Handley (Finance Director), Mike Kenny (Finance Manager), Rebecca Hoyland (General Secretary), Laura Turner (Assistant Secretary), Darren Manning (Sponsorship and Fundraising Executive), Stephen Greenwood (Chief Disciplinary Officer plus Wales and East Central Region Operations Manager), Debbie Jones (Youth Development Officer), Paul Marsh (Chief Operations Manager), Andy Walsh (Central Region Operations Manager), Richard Biggs (South East Region Operations Manager), Karen Brown (South West Region Operations Manager), Micky Reed (National League Divisional Administrator), Dave Vanderson (National League Divisional Administrator), David Ballantine (IT Support

Provisional fixture dates have been set for the envisaged 2021-2022 season and they are on the weekends of the 18th / 19th September, 2nd / 3rd October, 6th / 7th November, 27th /28th November, 11th / 12th December, 8th / 9th January, 5th / 6th February, 26th / 27th February and the 26th / 27th March. In addition to the National League fixtures the UKDA will be staging a Magic Weekend on the 23rd / 24th April followed by a UKDA National Finals on the 25th / 26th June.

Since the formation of the UKDA a partnership has been formed with the British Disability Darts Association with both parties responding to the news as follows,

The United Kingdom Darts Association and the British Disability Darts Association are delighted to announce a partnership between the two organisations.

The partnership will allow the UKDA to work closer with the BDDA to bring disability dart players further opportunities in the grassroots game.

Ahead of the announcement, UKDA Chairman Johnny Stefano said ‘After numerous conversations with Shane, I feel that a partnership with the BDDA, will be beneficial to both parties, and will generate avenues for para darters in the UK, to showcase their talent, as the UKDA team and I look to provide further exposure for players. We are also pleased to support any BDDA events in the future as we work together to deliver darts for everyone in the grassroots game’.

BDDA Deputy Chairman Shane Havard will be working closely with the UKDA board on behalf of all disability darters in this partnership.

Shane commented by saying ‘I’m excited that we get to work alongside Johnny and his team, and I’m looking forward to seeing our organisation grow.’

Both the UKDA and BDDA look forward to working together as we deliver an exciting new future for our game.

A number of officials and players from the National teams have expressed their views and her are a few of them,

Che Kerin (Salopian Press Officer).

“Although it’s been almost nine months since a dart was thrown in pubs and clubs across Shropshire and beyond, much has happened in this time as local darts has undertaken a revolution that will potentially change the landscape of darts as we know it.

For many years the British Darts Organization (BDO) was the driving force in local and county darts but in recent years they have endured darker times that have seen pub and club darts dwindle. This has sadly had a dramatic impact on the super leagues that feed into the County Darts set up, whilst ironically the popularity of darts on TV platforms such as the PDC go from strength to strength.

Good news is just around the corner however, as from the shadows of the BDO a new organization, the United Kingdom Darts Association (UKDA) has emerged heralding exciting times for British darts. The UKDA has plans to reinvent the County darts format and whilst there is much work still to be done they have allowed an opportunity for alternative darting regimes to join the Association.

As a result of these changes and in a ground breaking move SALOPIAN DARTS was recently accepted into the UKDA which means Shropshire now has two teams representing the County. Other Counties from all over England and Wales including the likes of Cheshire, Cleveland, Carmarthenshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Clywd, Kent, Merseyside, Wirral and Derbyshire have joined the alliance.

That is however, only part of the story for the Salopians who have gone back to the grass roots of darts within the County, integrating with numerous local leagues to develop a platform that will suit all ladies, men’s and youth darts, and which will ultimately strengthen and feed new players into the County scene.

A Men’s super league has already been formed featuring 15 teams from towns across the County who have registered an interest from Wentnor to Whitchurch, Oswestry to Market Drayton, Shrewsbury to Telford and towns in between. Crucially there is a strong base within ladies darts which gives the potential for a strong individual league.

Despite these unprecedented times where sports such as darts have taken a massive hit, it seems there is light at the end of the oche”.

Paul James ( Oxfordshire Chairman).

During the early months of the summer Oxfordshire had a vote of where our members wanted to play county darts, it was decided all Super League players would get a vote, forgetting all the politics the net result was just over 60% of our members opted for the UKDA system.

The committee who had served the county fantastically over many years decided to stand down.

We held an EGM and a new committee was elected.

Eventually all counties decided to ply their county trade within the UKDA, so the friendships built up over many years will be maintained which can only be a good thing .

UKDA have got some new innovative ideas for example a "Magic Weekend" for the premiership where counties will play their last two fixtures in a multi board set up.

UKDA must be congratulated on a fantastic proposal and have been amazingly positive on social media, it’s time for everybody to put historical differences to one side and work together to reinvigorate county or should I say national league darts and bring some much needed positivity into county darts.

On a personal side for Oxfordshire I want as many people as possible to come on board and make our county a success, I believe our venue at Bicester Ex-Services Club is one of the best in the system and they are so important to our development and continued success, Martin and his team have given us 100% support and agreed to continue our sponsorship once county recommences.

I wish good luck and success to all the counties within the UKDA and once this Covid pandemic is finished we can get up and running, the lessons of the last few months have shown us that darts isn’t the be all and end all in life, my hopes are when we restart we all play with a smile on our faces and revel in the great camaraderie in the sport of darts.

Finally the thoughts of a player, Richard Hanson of Derbyshire Men’s ‘A’ Team,

I played my first county game on the 11th September 2004 against Humberside with an average of 30.06. On the 1st March 2020 I completed my 121st representative county game having won 77 times for the ‘A’ team.

I am absolutely over the moon to have been chosen out of all the Derbyshire players past and present for this opportunity to express my feelings

All I ever wanted to do, since picking up a dart was play for Derbyshire. They played from the Top Club at New Whittingthon when I first started playing darts in my bedroom aged 14.

Due to nerves I lost my first county match but Derbyshire kept faith in me and played me again. Unfortunately I also lost that one. Game number three I won!! Best feeling ever!! I absolutely love playing for my county. The people involved in running the county are unsung heroes without which, we wouldn't have a county side. Without them there would be no county, period! The banter and camaraderie in our (my) Derbyshire team is second to none! And moving forward from these strange times it will only get stronger and tighter as our darting community grows. I personally voted UKDA as they offered a really strong business proposal and budget, so everyone knows exactly where they stand from the word go in this new and exciting era.

Follow all of the news, results, reports and progress of the United Kingdom Darts Association in this column as the world of darts is reborn through the UKDA.

The newly formed Gilberts Bar (Willenhall) Monday Individual Darts League organised and created by Simon Pritchard like many other leagues throughout the land has suffered due to the Covid-19 virus. Kicking off its inaugural season on the 14th September the league, due to local and national regulations had to shut down on the 14th October with the majority of players having completed only five of the scheduled 62 fixtures.

At the time of shut down Alex Howells and Luke Wildman shared the number one spot on 42 points, Howells holding pole position as he had won four and drawn one as opposed to Wildman who had also won four but lost one.

Close on the heels of the leading duo comes Ben Johnson (41 points) and Steve Jones (40 points), it’s everyone’s hope play will resume as soon as possible and the battle for the title will continue.

As organiser of the Ripley Elite Darts Singles League Daz Brown has said “In what turned out to be an extraordinarily different season, for the first time in its ten year history the league expanded to three divisions with an amazing total of seventy players competing in the areas biggest and most popular singles league for the title”.

The league began as normal in mid-October but lost four months of play due to lockdown and only just managed to finish the final four weeks before the new restrictions and second lockdown kicked in to stop all darting activity.

The top three places in the Premier Division all belonged to Ex PDC tour card holders, Jamie Caven winning the title for a second successive season with Colin Osborne and Darron Brown finishing second and third respectively. Caven with 123 points finished ten ahead of second placed Osborne who in turn was ten to the good of third placed Brown.

The twenty-eight strong division was full of quality players all of county standard with individual awards going to James Parkin, who notched the most 180s (27), the highest finish was shared between Colin Osborne and Ian Allcock who both recorded a maximum 170 finish. The least darts was also shared with four players Paul Baker, Colin Osborne, Jamie Caven and Darren Webster all checking out in eleven darts, while the division’s best average of 31.81 went to Pete Burgoyne.

Division One proved to be a ‘battle-royale’ all season with thirteen year old Derbyshire County ‘A’ team player Henry Coates eventually clinching the title with 107 points, six more than runner-up Martin Courtney who had a seven points advantage over third in the division Pete Slater. Fourth and fifth placed Ash Wood and Luke Pilgrim joined Coates and Courtney as the other automatic promoted players. Also sealing his place in the top flight for the next campaign was Tony Jacklin who came through the play-offs beating Gary Burch in a very close final.

Awards in Division One saw Pete Slater hit eleven 180’s, Joanne Oldershaw had the top finish, a maximum 170, while Henry Coates recorded not only the divisions highest average of 32.53 per dart but also the overall league’s top average. Coates and Luke Pilgrim also had the least darts which was twelve.

The newly formed Division Two consisted of fourteen players who played each other twice. The eventual champion was Lee College who reigned supreme all season, finishing with 122 points, six to the good on runner-up and newly appointed REDSL committee member Jordan Beresford, the two top players gaining automatic promotion to Division One next season. Joining College and Beresford will be another youngster, Alfie Osborne who in his first season secured his place in the middle tier via the play-off system.

Awards for Division Two went to Jayson Simpson with the most 180s (6), Jordan Beresford had the top finish of 152 plus the highest individual average of 22.16 per dart and Jayson Simpson recorded the seasons best leg of thirteen darts.

Daz Brown finished by saying “With no start date to the next season I leave this report with the devastating news of the untimely passing of an original Ripley Elite Darts Singles League member and player David “Boom Boom” Allcock who sadly passed away mid-season leaving a massive hole in each and every player. His bubbly personality was contagious his presence lit up the room, he will be missed terribly”

Rest in Peace David Allcock.

After a long six weeks battle, on the 22nd October Covid-19 claimed yet another one of Birmingham’s top local darts players in the form of John Sidwell.

John hailed by many Birmingham players as one heck of a darts player and an all-round terrific guy after losing his captain and good friend Dave Duncan played in the highly successful Dunky’s Boys memorial team. He played most of his darts alongside his son Jack and with close friend Bob Nixon in the majority of local doubles knockouts.

John Sidwell, aged 57 was a truly devoted family man who leaves behind, and will be sorely missed by his loving wife Veronica, sons John, Luke and Jack plus his many friends and darting acquaintances.

Rest in Peace John Sidwell.

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