With BDO stalwart Martin Adams pronouncing the demise of that organisation. Darts World is publishing a series of articles exploring the rise and fall of Olly Croft’s vision. Here Alan Towe takes us back to the very beginning.
In the very first edition of Darts World which covered November and December 1972, leaders of organised darts in London set up a non-profit making company named ‘Greater London Darts Association Ltd’.
The initial fifteen darts organisers agreeing to subscribe to the 300 shares of £1 each, this initial capital to be used to set up the company. The object of the company was to promote the game of darts in the Greater London area. Officials of the company were John Ross, Chairman, Olly Croft, managing Director, Reg Wells, Secretary, and Bert Parsons, Treasurer
In the January 1973 edition of the magazine it said there was notification of a new national darts league to consist of teams representing England and Wales likely to be formed in the spring with darts organisers from ten areas London, Kent, Surrey, Hertfordshire, Cheshire, West Midlands, West of England, Lancashire, Wales, and Devon all indicating their interest.
It was said that because teams were likely to play only once every four or five weeks a full league program was envisaged to last over two years. Rules were to be discussed and whether to include a secondary league for ‘B’ sides and also ladies teams. Going into February 1973 a new body was set-up to administer the proposed Inter-Counties League and other national competitions called the British Darts Organisation.
It was planned to start the inaugural season on the 7th of October with teams of twelve players playing nine matches with the majority being played on Sundays. It was stated that games between women’s sides and men’s ‘B’ teams would not be included in the competition but may take place on individual challenges.
Entries came flowing in from all over the country for the contest to design a badge for the new British Darts Organisation with the BDO offering a £25 prize for the eventual winner.
March 1973 saw players registering for the various teams in the new Inter-Counties League having to sign a contract. Wales, due to team difficulties dropped out. and elected to replace them was Thames Valley. Officers were elected namely Norman Byram, Chairman, Olly Croft, Secretary, Ken Nicholas, Treasurer, Sam Hawkins, Assistant Secretary, Fixture Secretary, and Bill Shepherd, Deputy Chairman.
In addition, an Executive Committee was formed consisting of Roy Hodge, R.Sinclair (Devon), TonyFellows, Alan Mitchell (West Midlands), Sam Hawkins, Ron Havigar (Kent), Deryck Gibson, Les Bates (Hertfordshire), S.Langford, A.J.Cameron (Thames Valley), K.W.Osborn, Les France (S.W.Lancashire), Roy Setchfield, Dennis Mabey (Surrey), H.Goodair, Alf Booth (London), Norman Byram, Martin O’Sullivan (Cheshire) and Eddie Norman, Bill Shepherd (West of England).
It was also decided at this time that a separate Inter-Counties Championship be set up for the ladies with teams of four playing 801 up scoring a point for each of the winning games of three which were to be played during the interval of the men’s Inter-County matches.
More than 130 entries were received for the BDO design badge with the winner of the £25 being 23 years old Christine Sampey. Christine a non-league darts player herself lived and worked in Manchester as a partner in a studio designing stands for exhibitions.
BDO secretary Olly Croft said the standard of entries was very high and it was a difficult decision but the winning design was exceptional, simple, and yet easily recognisable.
In July 1973 Allied Breweries set-up a massive £25,000 sponsorship deal with the new BDO, the money to be spent over two years to launch the Double Diamond Darts Inter-Counties Championships with the matches to be played from October to June.
And that’s how it all began folks.
Look out for Part II to see how the opening games went.
Pics: Dartsworld/Red Dragon