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24 April 2024
Les Wallace throwing a dart.

In 1997 Les Wallace became the first left-handed dart player to win the World Dart Championship. I have met Les a couple of times since then.

Les Wallace.

He won the final against Welshman Marshall James after knocking out Bob Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, Paul Williams & Mervyn King on his way to the Final. After winning the title he appeared at the Hill Park Memorial Working Men's Club in Hampshire, where I was a member.

In those days, Les lived in nearby Southampton, but when he played darts, he sometimes wore the rugby shirt of his beloved country of birth, Scotland. When I met Les, he had been booked to give a darts demonstration, talk about his World Cup win & play against members of the Hill Park Memorial Working Men's Club, dart teams. I guessed he would be wearing his Scotland Rugby shirt or a tartan kilt, which he sometimes wore in matches. Because of this & for a laugh I went along wearing my Welsh rugby shirt & as it happened he was wearing his Scotland Rugby shirt.

Les had been playing demo matches & showing us trick shots before taking a break. He walked past where I stood at the bar & noticed the Wales rugby shirt I had on. On his way back I stopped him & told him that I loved watching him play darts. He thanked me & kept walking back towards the stage until I shouted to him & said 'You are a great dart player, it's a shame you know nothing about Rugby though'. At this point, he turned around walked back to me & challenged me to a game. I made my excuses, telling him that I used to be a fairly good dart player & in 1990 I had been invited to play for the Hampshire dart team. Unfortunately the week before my trial I had a serious car accident & lost sight in one eye & never again threw darts well enough to continue playing.

I told him I would give him a game of pool when he finished playing darts. Straight away he arranged to take a longer break & challenged me to play pool for a pint, I agreed & also agreed the loser had to pay for the next round of beer. The pool table was cleared & set up, & everybody was now watching me take on the World Dart Champion, Les Wallace, in a pool match.

Les won the toss & broke potting several balls off of the break, as he walked back towards me he leaned nearer to me & informed me that dart players used to play pool before & after big competitions to unwind & that he was the dart players, pool champion. I didn't tell him that I was the club pool captain. After I potted a few, he potted a few more then I cleared up & doubled the black in to finish the game. He congratulated me telling me I was a good player & he did buy the beer. My friend Derek then danced around the table, telling Les Wallace he had just lost to a bloke with one eye.

Les Wallace was polite to me & a gallant loser, I can't remember how he got on in his remaining games of darts but I never forgot my game against him on the pool table. Many years later the Hampshire Dart team started playing their home dart matches in the Hill Park Memorial Men's Club & he came to the club to support them. I had been watching the darts from the bar & he came & stood next to me & started chatting. We were talking about Hampshire darts & I asked him if he played anymore. He told me that he only played in his local pub but did go to watch Hampshire play every now & then. Without me saying anything he did say that he remembered playing pool against me & again bought me a beer for beating him all those years before.  

Les Wallace was a great dart player & a gentleman to me. He would have beaten me easily if I had played him at darts, even before I lost my eyesight, but I can always say that I beat him at pool & won the bet I had with him for doing it.