FORTY-TWO years ago tomorrow, one of Plymouth’s finest darts players and many will say the best, entered the Guinness Book of Records, and recorded a feat which still stands to this day . . . and may never get beaten.
On Tuesday, November 11, 1975, Cliff “Ticker” Inglis gave an exhibition at The Bromfield Working Men’s Club in North Devon and playing over a leg of 1001, went out in a remarkable 19 darts.
Inglis admitted afterwards that the first dart slipped out of his hand and went into double 20, but unperturbed he threw 160-180-140-180-121-180 before checking out on double 20 with the first dart of his next visit for a stunning single dart average of 52.68.
When you consider that the minimum number of darts a game of 1001 can be won in is 17, 180x5 followed by a checkout of 101, will his record ever be bettered?
CHAMPION: Cliff "Ticker" Inglis in typical pose, the first winner of the World Masters.
The feat occurred 17 months after his finest achievement when, at the age of 39, Inglis won the first ever World Masters, which was held at the West Centre Hotel, Fulham, on Saturday August 31, 1974.
The tournament featured 60 of the best players from around the world. 24 winners of major tournaments from the last year and an English qualifying round consisting of 36 players (2 from each county). The 36 County players played down to a last 8 before joining the 24 invitees to make the first round.
Finalists came from afar with Jody Simkins and Joe Baltadonisas representing the United States, Douglas Melander from Sweden, Joe Goldwin from Gibraltar, and 65-year-old Andre Declerq representing Belgium who reached the last eight.
In the best of five final, Inglis met Glaswegian Harry Heenan who was an established Scottish International.
The Scotsman led twice in 18 and 20, only for Inglis to level in 19 and 17. In the decider, victory went to Inglis in 19. Certainly not a classic by today’s standards but history was made.
Nowadays, a win in an average darts tournament can mean a player can pick up several thousand pounds. But Inglis’s prize purse on the day was four hundred pounds and a hi-fi.
Cliff began his illustrious sporting career in the pubs of Plymouth but soon realised that to prove to himself that he could reach the pinnacle in his sport he had to move away from the Westcountry.
He teamed up on the professional circuit with the former World Number One, Welshman Alun Evans and the duo set up base in Stockport.
The commencement of the Home Internationals came in July 1973 and were introduced to co-incide with the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the City of Bristol.
Inglis had the distinction of not only being picked for his country along with the great players of the era such as Tommy O’Regan, Tony Bell and Willie Etherington but he was also chosen as “Man of the Match”.
Later that year Cliff was also picked to play for a Great Britain select side that played against the USA in New York.
In 1974, the Home Internationals took place at the Lyceum in The Strand, London, and after nearly seven hours of darts, England were again triumphant when Inglis defeated David Porter in the final match of the competition.
Inglis was once again chosen as “Man of the Match”, the only English player to have won all his games.
SHIP AHOY!: Cliff Inglis (front, second left), pictured with Marine Engineering Mechanic Robinson and Leading Seaman Liddington on board the British submarine
One of the most unusual darts matches Cliff was involved in took place in December 1973 . . . aboard a British submarine.
The match in aid of charity, was between the crew of HMS Cachalot and a team made up from the Devon Super League.
Up to 30 players and spectators squeezed into the submarine’s torpedo storage compartment to watch the 14 games of 501 which the experienced Devon Super League team won 12-2.
The match was organised by Leading Electrical Mechanic Ray Tucknott who was also a Devon Super League player at the time and is still playing today, turning out for the Victoria Inn at Hooe, in the Plymouth City Super League.
Inglis was almost as good with four-inch masonry nails as he was with darts. He could beat most players using his carefully sharpened nails and in exhibitions he would take cigarettes out of mouths and even take bottle tops off the tips of tongues – all with the use of the nails.
Cliff Inglis passed away at the age of 65, on January 5, 2001, but left a great legacy and will always be remembered as one of Plymouth’s greatest players, a gentleman, but most of all, a champion in his own right.