The News of the World darts championship began in the 1927/28 season and was held only in the Metropolitan area of London until 1935/36 when it was expanded to London and the Home Counties. The following year (1936/37) saw the setting up of a Wales division of the competition. In that first season D. Cornacia (representing the Ivy Bush Hotel, Portardawe, Neath) beat T. A. Jones (playing out of the Llanerch Hotel, Llandrindod Wells) 2-0 in the final.
In the next season (1937-38) the Welsh divisional champion was Gwyn Jones. He represented the Unemployed Club, Penygraig, Rhondda and beat Jack Corvett (playing out of the Ferry Boat Inn, Briton Ferry) by two games to nil. In the last News of the World tournament before the competition was suspended on the outbreak of war, the Welsh champion for the 1938/39 season was Charlie Parker of the Castle Inn, Pontywaun, Newport, who beat Horace Trickett (representing the Old Express Hotel, Merthyr) by yet another margin of 2-0.
The News of the World was restored in 1947 as the ‘Darts Championship of England and Wales’ and so was beginning to take a first, somewhat hesitant, step towards becoming a ‘national’ competition. (However, Scotland and Northern Ireland were not to join the tournament until the 1970s.) The first Wales Division winner post-World War Two was William ‘Bill’ Preece (pictured left). He progressed to the Grand Finals held at the Empire Pool, Wembley, on Wednesday 9th June 1948 to match his darting skills with the other seven divisional champions, all of whom came from England.
Bill Preece played out of the Alma Inn, Blaenarvon and became the Monmouthshire Area Champion before winning the divisional championship of Wales. A 36-year-old worker in the Big Pit at Blaenarvon, Bill had started playing darts about ten years earlier. He had reached Wembley at his first attempt. A darts player with a preference for the bottom half of the dartboard, the programme notes for that Grand Final informed the reader that Bill’s favourite treble ‘is treble 19, but if he gets it he usually goes for the treble 20 and then comes down again to the treble 17 with his third dart’ adding ‘[He] has often hit all these to give him a score of 168 (57, 60, 51).’ With these credentials the contingent of Welsh fans were, according to the programme, confident ‘he’ll take the cup home with him.’ Unfortunately that was not to be, the glory going to the Lancashire and Cheshire divisional champions, Harry Leadbetter (representing the Windle Labour Club, St. Helens), who beat the North of England divisional champion, Tommy Small (playing out of the South Durham Steel and Iron Social Club, West Hartlepool) 2-1 in the final.
Thus it was that, although Wales continued to send top class divisional champions to London for the News of the World Grand Finals every year it was not until the 1954 final that a Welsh darter won that prestigious tournament. His name was Oliver James (pictured left). (See separate article on this website.)
The News of the World held no ‘national’ tournament, only divisional competitions, until 1947. The pre-war Welsh divisional champions have all been mentioned above.
The following list shows the Welsh Divisional Champions who made it to the Grand Finals of the News of the World in London between the 1947/48 season and 1990. In the few instances where the names of the runners-up in the Divisional finals are known these are also recorded here. Also, where available, the performance of each Welsh Grand Finalist is included.
The resurrected News of the World 1997 final was held in Birmingham.
1947-48 – William ‘Bill’ Preece (Alma Inn, Blaenarvon, Monmouthshire)
Runner-up – H. Tilbury (King’s Head, Bethesda)
1948-49 – Timothy Cleary (Red Lion Hotel, Dinas, Glamorgan) (Losing semi-finalist)
Runner-up – J. Doyle (Castle Hotel, Rhayader)
1949-50 – Terry Hartson (Llanbradach Hotel, Treforest, Glamorgan)
Runner-up – J. Pearce (Harris’s Hotel, Swansea)
1950-51 – Bert Hughes (Castle Inn, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan)
1951-52 – Timothy Cleary (Red Lion, Dinas, Rhonnda, Glamorgan) (Losing quarter-finalist)
1952-53 – George Lloyd (Non-Political Club, Nantyffyllon, Glamorgan) (Losing semi-finalist)
1953-54 – Oliver James (Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Dyffryn Cellwen, Onllwyn, Glamorgan – CHAMPION
1954-55 – Roy Cooper (Bridge Hotel, Pontypridd, Glamorgan. (Losing quarter-finalist)
1955-56 – Les Campbell (Boot Inn, Dinas, Glamorgan) (Reached the final two but was defeated by
Trevor Peachey (Eastern Counties Divisional Champion) 2-0.)
1956-57 – Len Baker (Corporation Hotel, Cardiff) (Reached the final two but was defeated by Alwyn
Mullins (Yorkshire Divisional Champion) 2-0.)
1957-58 – Ernie Burrup (Old White Lion Hotel, Newport, Monmouthshire) (Losing semi-finalist)
1958-59 – George Lloyd (White Hart Hotel, Maesteg, Glamorgan)
1959-60 – Dai Jones (Cambrian Hotel, Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire) (Reached the final two but was
defeated by Tom Reddington (Midland Counties Divisional Champion) 2-1.) At the age of
20, Dilwyn was, at that time, the youngest player to make the Grand Finals.
1960-61 – Dilwyn James (Boncath Hotel, Boncath, Pembrokeshire) (Losing semi-finalist. Defeated by
Alec Adamson (the North of England Divisional Champion). Adamson went on to win the
1961-62 – Dennis Owen (Horse and Jockey, Ponciau, Wrexham, Denbighshire) (Losing quarter-finalist.
Lost 2-1 to the North of England Divisional Champion, Frank Grimstone.)
1962-63 – Bill Harding (Globe Hotel, Aberdare, Glamorgan) (Reached the last two but was beaten 2-0
by the North of England Divisional Champion, Robbie Rumney.)
1963-64 – Jim March (Foresters Arms, Blackwood, Monmouthshire) (Losing semi-finalist beaten 2-1
by Ray Hatton, the Lancashire and Cheshire Divisional Champion.)
1964-65 – ‘Nibloe’ Picton (Great Mountain Workmen’s Club, Tumble, Llanelly (Losing quarter-finalist
being beaten 2-0 by the Eastern Counties Divisional Champion, Eddie Brown.)
1965-66 – Peter Spragg (Blue Bell Hotel, Caerphilly, Glamorgan) (Losing quarter-finalist, beaten 2-1
by the eventual champion Wilf Ellis, the Yorkshire Divisional champion.)
1966-67 – Gordon Davies (Labour Club, Caerau, Glamorgan) (Losing quart-finalist, beaten 2-1 by
Brian Quarterman, the Midland Counties Divisional Champion.)
1967-68 – Alf Jeffries (Pretoria Arms, Pontnewynydd, Monmouthshire.
1968-69 – Mervyn Lewis (Bell Inn, Llanyre, Llandrindod Wells, Radnorshire) (Losing quarter-
finalist, beaten 2-1 by Keith Naylor, the Eastern Counties Divisional Champion.)
1969-70 – Leighton Rees (United Services Club, Ynysybwl, Pontypridd, Glamorgan. (Losing semi-
finalist, beaten 2-0 by Alan Cooper, the Western Counties Divisional Champion.)
1970-71 – Ron Davies (White Horse Inn, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire) (Losing quarter-finalist,
beaten 2-0 by the London and Home Counties Divisional Champion, Dennis Filkins
who went on to win the title.)
1971-72 – David (Alan) Evans (Ferndale Hotel, Ferndale, Rhondda, Glamorgan. (Alan made the
final two but was beaten 2-0 by Brian Netherton, the Western Counties Divisional
1972-73 – Tony Ridler (Ringland Workmen’s Club, Newport, Monmouthshire) (Losing quarter-
finalist beaten 2-1 by Ivor Hodgkinson, the Midland Counties Divisional Champion.
Hodgkinson went on the win the title. At only 19 years of age, Tony became the
youngest-ever News of the World Grand Finalist.)
1973-74 – Leighton Rees (United Services Club, Ynysybwl, Nr. Pontypridd, Glamorgan) (Lost 2-0
in the first round to U.S.A.’s Al Lippman.)
1974-75 – Phil Obbard (Sports Club, Bridgend, Glamorgan) (Losing semi-finalist, beaten 2-0 by Bill
Duddy, the London and Home Counties Divisional Champion.)
1975-76 – Leighton Rees (United Services Club, Ynysybwl, Glamorgan) (Losing finalist beaten 2-1
by Bill Lennard, the Lancashire and Cheshire Divisional Champion.)
1976-77 – Mick McDermott (Snowden Hotel, Llandudno, Gwynedd) (Losing quarter-finalist beaten
2-0 by Bob Crossland, the Yorkshire Divisional Champion.)
1977-78 – Tony Clark (Kings Head, Moss, Clwyd) Losing quarter-finalist beaten 2-0 by John Coward,
the North of England Divisional Champion.)
1978-79 – Lance Richards (Rock & Fountain Inn, Skewen, Glamorgan) (Losing semi-finalist, beaten
2-0 by Bobby George, the Eastern Counties Divisional Champion. Bobby went on to win
1979-80 – Tony Clark (Miners Welfare Club, Llay, Clwyd) (Losing quarter-finalist, beaten 2-1 by Eire’s
1980-81 – Malcolm Padmore (Brecon Corries A.F.C., Brecon, Powys) (Lost in first round, beaten 2-0
by John Kinsella, the Eire champion.)
1981-82 – Jim Hughes (Parcwern Country Club, Ammanford, Dyfed) (Losing Grand Finalist, beaten
2-1 in the final by Roy Morgan, the Midland Counties Divisional Champion. Hughes beat
Jocky Wilson 2-1 in the semi-finals.)
1982-83 – Tony Clark (Oak Tree Tavern, Wrexham, Clwyd) (Losing semi-finalist, beaten 2-1 by Ralph
Flatt, the Eastern Counties Divisional Champion.)
1983-84 – Dave Lee (Ivor Arms, Pontllanfraith, Gwent) (Lost in the first round, beaten 2-0 by George
Corke, the Eastern Counties Divisional Champion.)
1984-85 – Dave Lee (Ivor Arms, Pontllanfraith, Gwent) (CHAMPION – Dave beat the London and
Home Counties Divisional Champion, Billy Dunbar 2-0 in the Final.)
1985-86 – Chris Johns (Prince of Wales, Hirwaun, Aberdare, Mid-Glamorgan) (Losing quarter-finalist
beaten 2-1 by Ritchie Gardner, the London and Home Counties Divisional Champion.)
1986-87 – Malcolm Davies (Ship & Pilot Hotel, Cardiff East, Cardiff) (Losing quarter-finalist, beaten
2-0 by Simon Duke, the London and Home Counties Divisional Champion.)
1987-88 – David ‘Rocky’ Jones (Castle Club Super League, Rhymney, Monmouthshire) Losing semi-
finalist, beaten 2-1 by Canada’s Bob Sinnaeve.)
1988-89 – Dai Furnish (Fleurs Social Club, Splott, Cardiff) (Losing quarter-finalist, beaten 2-0 by
Arnie Bunn, the Midland Counties Divisional Champion.)
1989-90 – John Gronow (Tondu RFC, Aberkenfig, Mid Glamorgan) (Losing quarter-finalist, beaten
2-1 by Scott Swanson, the Canadian champion.
1989-90 also saw the introduction of the News of the World Ladies Championship
1989- 90 – Liz West (Labour Club, Bargoed, Mid Glamorgan) (Lost in First Round 2-0 to the USA
champion Julie Buffington.)
The News of the World was then ‘suspended’ until its temporary resurrection in 1996/97 with both a Men’s and Women’s tournament. For the first time ever the Grand Finals moved out of London and were held at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre, Birmingham.
Men’s – Anthony Ridler (Duffryn Arms, Newport, Gwent) (Son of Tony Ridler who had played in the
Grand Finals in 1973.) (Lost 2-0 in the first round to Yorkshire’s Julian Bullock.)
Women’s – Melanie Saunders (Abergavenny Ladies’ Champion) (Made the last two but was beaten in
the Grand Final 2-0 by Lancashire’s Linda Jones.)
After this tournament the News of the World was then suspended once more, never again to resurface on the darts calendar.
NEWS OF THE WORLD PLAYER’S NO. 6 COMPETITION
Often overlooked in research into the News of the World tournament, this competition was introduced to run separately and in parallel with the News of the World Individual Darts Championship in the 1965-66 season. At the time Player’s No. 6 was a small but extremely popular cigarette, with coupons.
For the No. 6 competition each competitor threw six darts and had to score as many sixes as they could. A News of the World spokesperson said at the time, ‘Obviously, the object is to throw trebles sixes. This is difficult because an expert dartsman never actually needs a treble six except in the Player’s No. 6 Competition. If he wants eighteen he might have to throw for double nine, but when it comes to trebles he concentrates on the high numbers.’
So, in simple terms, score as many sixes as you can in six darts, singles, doubles and trebles all counting. Eight Divisional No. 6 winners met in London and played off their championship after the News of the World Individual Championship had been decided. The first-ever winner of the Player’s No. 6 Competition was the Welsh finalist.
The following is a list of Welsh finalists:
1965-66 – Ron Hughes (Union Jack Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Ynyshir, Glamorgan) WINNER (pictured below left being presented with a Philips tape recorder by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Alderman Mrs. Miriam Bryant, for winning the Wales Division of the Player’s No. 6 competition)
1966-67 – T. Garbett (Corbett Arms Hotel, Towyn, Monmouthshire
1967-68 – E. George (Bush Hotel, Brynmawr, Breconshire) (Third place with five sixes)
1968-69 – G. Williams (Crown Hotel, Barmouth, Merionethshire (Placed sixth)
1969-70 – R. Williams (R.A.F.A Club, Talgarth, Breconshire) (Placed equal fourth)
The Player’s No. 6 competition ceased in 1970.
Original text © 2014 Patrick Chaplin. Unless stated all images are from PC Archive. Used with permission.