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Article: The Leeds Irish Centre Recognised As The Birth Place of Televised darts

The Leeds Irish Centre Recognised As The Birth Place of Televised darts

Leeds Irish Centre has been officially recognised as ^the birthplace of televised darts^ thanks to its role in the first regular coverage of arrows during the 1970s.

The club was the venue for the hugely popular show, ^Indoor League^, which was presented by former England cricketer Fred Trueman and featured darts amongst several other pub sports.

It was produced by Sid Waddell with Dave Lanning providing the commentary and was screened between 1972 and 1977 - with the pair eventually going on to head Sky Sports^ darts commentary.

A blue plaque was unveiled at the Leeds Irish Centre on Wednesday by the Leeds Civic Trust after The Times^ columnist Giles Smith and Sky Sports led a year-long campaign to have the venue^s role officially recognised.

The campaign attracted support from the likes of Stephen Fry, Sebastian Faulks and Jeremy Paxman as well as dozens of players from past and present, including 15 -times World Champion Phil ^The Power^ Taylor.

Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said: "The Trust was thrilled by the great enthusiasm generated for the darts plaque campaign.

"The Leeds Irish Centre is one of the city^s most vibrant institutions and its part in the pioneering of televised darts is a great cause for celebration."

Barry Hearn, chairman of the PDC added: "Darts is a now multi-million pound sport attracting global interest and prize funds to boot, but we should always recognise its humble origins.

"If it hadn^t been for the Leeds Irish Centre, and the Indoor League, who knows where darts would be now?"

Sid Waddell, regarded by many as the ^voice of darts^, produced the show for Yorkshire Television.

The programme^s line-up of pub sports included shove ha^penny, bar billiards and arm-wrestling and its coverage of darts was the first time that the sport was broadcast on a regular basis.

Sid commented: "The Indoor League was a fantastic show and the Irish Centre was an amazing arena.

"There was no better venue suited to a celebration of pub games and it had an atmosphere like no other venue I^ve ever been to. Being back here now brings back so many memories of a wonderful time in my career."

He continued: "The idea behind Indoor League was to screen some of the more popular sports contested across the pubs and clubs around the UK. Little did we know when we stumbled across darts that the sport and its personalities were simply perfect for television.

"It was the first time that we zoomed in on the players and their stories and the programme proved to be the springboard to more regular TV coverage and the first steps of what is the incredible spectacle that it is now."

The Leeds Civic Trust aims to stimulate public interest in the city of Leeds and its blue plaques scheme promotes the heritage of the city.

The first blue plaque, which marks Burley Bar - one of the boundaries of the medieval town - was unveiled in 1987.

Sky Sports will show live and HD coverage of every match from the forthcoming World Darts Championship from the Alexandra Palace beginning 16 December.

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