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Article: End of an era for John

End of an era for John

IT was the end of an era for the local darts scene when a well-known committee man stepped away from the oche after almost 60 years in the game.

John McNamara was presented with an inscribed tankard by the Great Yarmouth and District Darts League after retiring from the game he loves after 23 years as chairman.

The former hotelier, of Links Road, Gorleston, began his career as a player in the Yarmouth leagues in 1950 and joined the governing committee more than 40 years ago, initially as treasurer.

John, 81, who is also President of the Great Yarmouth Holiday Association and ran several hotels in the town, including the Hadleigh and Marine Court on North Drive and the Central Hotel in Kent Square, still plays a mean game of arrows.

He was thanked for his efforts in "keeping local darts going" by district league secretary Babs Smith at the recent finals night at Gorleston^s High Street Social Club.

John said he had enjoyed every minute of his darts career - especially finals nights - he has only missed one in the past 60 years.

Over the years finals nights had attracted up to 600 darts supporters and had been played at a variety of venues, including The Garibaldi, the Town Hall, King^s Street Working Men^s Club, Shrublands Centre, and even the restaurant at the former Debenhams store!

"Thursday night was always darts night in Yarmouth and Gorleston. It was a big part of life in the town and every pub had a darts team at one time," he said.

After beginning a team at the Central Hotel, over the past six decades John has played for teams at the Columbia Tavern, The Apollo, The Colonel H and The Lord Roberts.

The District League was the Fishermans, Widows and Orphans league when John began playing - reflecting the town^s fishing heyday. Later it became the Lacon^s League when Great Yarmouth^s famous brewery took over, then Whitbread and Bass, before being sponsored in recent years by Bookers and now Asda.

"I^ve played with some very good players over the years including Mervin King, who went on to become world champion, and others who reached the finals of the News of the World competition. I^m leaving the game in good hands as we have as very good committee, but it is sad to see so many of the town^s historic local pubs closing," added John.

Story By: Great Yarmouth Mercury 24


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