THERE have been many good darts players over the years that have plied their talents within the Plymouth darts leagues, but not many have been able to maintain a high level of consistency throughout an extended period.
Being consistent is what turns good players into great players and over the last 43 years, not many have been more consistent than Steve Marker.
His first foray on the Plymouth darts scene began in 1975, aged just 17, when he played for the Butchers Arms in the Whitbread League.
He went on to lead the team over a number of years and won the captain’s cup on no fewer than seven occasions.
During this time a league stalwart, Dennis Davey, who was a city jeweller, used to sponsor the Dennis Davey Cup within the Whitbread League, and the prizes for the winner and runner-up, were much coveted watches.
WINNERS: The Ker St Social Club team that were joint winners of the 1999-2000 Devon Super League. Back row (left to right): Paul Davies, Ty Carthy, Steve Marker, David Young, Flynn Jones. Front row: Alfie Ford, Bill Darlington, Peter Roulston, Mervyn Graygoose, Andy Bates.
Marker had the distinction of winning the prestigious competition for the first time in 1981/82 and successfully defended his title when winning again in the 1982/83 season.
In 1985, Steve moved to the Mechanics Arms but still played in the Whitbread League and the team won the Chairman’s Cup on two occasions.
The season of 1990/91 saw Marker play in the Stonehouse League where he won the singles title and the same season he was the individual runner-up of the Dawes Mixed League.
In 1999, two Plymouth businessmen launched a private members club by the name of Friends, and guest of honour on the opening night was Eric Bristow.
The five-time Embassy world champion was challenged by an array of Plymouth darts players which included Marker who defeated the Crafty Cockney, over a leg of 801, finishing in 25 darts for a single dart average of 32.04.
Steve was also a valued member of the Ker St Social Club team that played in the Devon County Super League and in the 1999/2000 campaign, the team were joint winners when they finished level on points with the Queens Head, who hailed from Exeter.
In 2002, Steve won the individual title of the Plymouth Open Mixed League, coming from a leg down in the best of three final to win in 17 and 16 against John Watchman of the Weston Mill, having started the deciding leg with a maximum score.
In the same year, whilst playing for the Ker St in the Plymouth City Super League, Marker threw the best game of the season in the final fixture of the campaign.
Scoring the last 415 points in nine darts, which included back to back maximums, Marker clinched his singles in 26 darts when he threw 81-80-85-140-140-60-180-180 before finishing from 55 in two for a 38.5 average
In a 9-4 victory away at First and Last, Ker St Social Club deprived the Exeter Street side of third spot in that season.
The following season, Marker was once again to the fore with the top game of the campaign when, partnered with Fred Goldsmith, they hit a 25-dart 1001 doubles leg for a very impressive 40.04 average.
The duo scored 95-100-100-100-140-180-180-70 before Marker hit double 18 with the first dart of his next visit.
In the season of 2004/2005 Marker won the doubles title of the Trophydart league, partnered with Neil McTighe whilst representing City Social Club and the following season, clinched the individual crown.
In 2006, playing for The Windmill, in the Trophydart Men’s League, Marker had the distinction of playing in three finals.
His first success came in the Captain’s Cup when he defeated Adrian Lamerton, representing The Clifton, 2-0 before joining forces with Windmill team mates Chris Nixon and Graham Bryce to contest the trebles.
They took the opening leg of 701 in 25 darts, only for the trio of Mike Bulmer, Dave Collins and Gary Whittles (Jubilee, Torpoint), to come back and level before, in an enthralling deciding leg, the Windmill won it in 23 darts.
The Leigham’s side last five darts included a second maximum for Marker, before Nixon checked out from 74 in two.
Marker was now aiming for a hat trick of titles when he contested the individual crown, but despite hitting his third maximum of the evening, he crashed to a 3-0 defeat by Dave Collins and was left to rue his missed opportunities which included a throw to finish the 701 leg in 21 darts.
CHAMPION: Steve Marker finally got his hands on the Champion of Champions trophy when he won the title in 2007.
After previous futile attempts at winning Plymouth’s Champion of Champions title, Marker made the grand final in 2006 but had to settle for the runner up spot.
Marker pushed Adrian Lamerton all the way and led on two occasions but with the final evenly poised at 3-3, Lamerton checked out and became only the third player in 21 years, to win back to back titles.
That disappointment was appeased though the following year when Marker went all the way to clinch the Champion of Champions 2007 title.
His opponent in the final was Simon Cunningham, who had defeated Lamerton in the semi-finals, preventing him from becoming the first player to win three titles on the trot.
Marker went a leg down, only to level in 17 and then edge in front for the first time in 18.
Both players notched maximums in the fourth leg and Cunningham should have capitalised on his early advantage when scoring 400 points with his first nine darts, but it was Marker who checked out to press 3-1 in front.
Cunningham came back though to level at 3-3 but, despite losing the bull, Marker won the decisive leg in 18 to become only the 16th winner of the Champion of Champions title in what was then the 22nd running of the competition.
Playing for Windmill in Ply City Super League, Marker threw the 2010 season’s top game in 26 and repeated the feat again in 2012.
In the same season, The Windmill clinched the league and Marker headed the 180 table with 22.
He again topped the 180 table with 19 in 2013 and was joint winner of the singles with Mark Hatherley finishing the season with 36 wins from 40 matches.
Windmill finished the league in second spot in 2014 but retained their title the following year and were champions again in 2016.
A change of playing personnel at the Leigham hostelry forced Marker to take a short time out of the game but he is back playing now and turns out just once a week for The Windmill in the Plymouth & District Friday League.