HE strode into the bar, darts in hand, like a gunslinger walking into a saloon in Dodge City – but this was the Jolly Miller public house and Flynn Jones had arrived in Plymouth.
It was August 1988 that Jones made his presence known and it wasn’t going to be long before whispers circulated throughout the city’s darting venues that a talented marksman would soon be joining their ranks.
Jones was introduced to the sport in 1975 when, as a chef with the RAF, stationed in Salisbury, he used to while away lunch breaks in the NAAFI on the dartboard.
But, surprisingly, it was 1979 before he played his first competitive game.
FORMIDABLE: The formidable pose of Flynn Jones which has brought him a host of admirers
throughout a stellar career on the darts oche.
A fellow Serviceman urged him to make up numbers for a summer league team and from that moment, he was hooked.
He moved to RAF Station Coltishall in 1980 and won his first singles title while playing for the Railway in the North Norfolk League.
After five seasons playing in different leagues around Norfolk, Jones had won a total of six titles, among them, three individual crowns which included the prestigious Norwich Open in 1982.
His RAF career took him to Biggin Hill in 1985 and his biggest achievement there was to be picked for the Bromley representative side on numerous occasions.
Jones first came to prominence in Plymouth when he entered the Champion of Champions tournament for the first time in 1988.
Representing the Jolly Miller, Jones ploughed his way through a talented field before beating John Goves in the final.
This was no mean feat as Goves, arguably the best player in the city at the time, had clinched the trophy himself in 1985 and again the following year, only to be denied a hat-trick of titles in 1987 when he went out to the eventual Champion of that year, Ivor Newman.
In 1986, Jones played for the First and Last in the Plymouth and District Friday League and set a new record at the time, when becoming the first player to win a 1001 leg in 26 darts.
On the local scene, Flatcap Flynn as he is affectionately known, has won numerous titles, too many to list individually, while playing for the Jolly Miller, First and Last, GWRSA Club Laira, St Levan Inn, The Clifton and Ker St Social Club.
Winning is the name of the game and a more formidable opponent you will not find.
One of Jones’s best moments he remembers was when, as a valued member of the Ker St Social Club team that played in the Devon County Super League, the side emerged as joint winners in the 1999/2000 campaign, finishing level on points with Exeter’s Queens Head. No mean feat when you consider the level of opposition around at the time.
There is no bigger honour that can be bestowed upon a local darts player than being chosen to represent their county in the British Inter County Championships.
A very small proportion make the step up to county grade, but just eight months after moving to Plymouth, Flynn Jones received his first call up.
Jones made a total of 107 appearances and was a member of the squad when Devon twice won the division three title.
He also had the distinction of appearing three times in the top five of Devon’s all-time list of top averages.
His first achievement came in February 2000 while playing against Breconshire and he came through his encounter in three straight legs with a superb average of 34.16.
For this feat, Jones won a £200 award from the British Darts Organisation for hitting the top average from all matches that were played that weekend in England, Scotland and Wales.
Breconshire again witnessed Jones’s ability at first hand when, in October 2001, he won 3-1 with an average of 32.47.
It was in January 2001 that Jones was part of the Devon squad that achieved one of their best results in the British Inter County Championships when, on their visit to the Isle of Wight, they won 31-5
The following year against West Midlands, Jones prevailed with a 33.52 average.
In what was arguably the best encounter on the day, Jones trailed Tom Aldridge at 1-0 and 2-1 but levelled with a win in 14.
With the score level at 2-2 and his opponent waiting to have a throw at double 16 to clinch victory, Jones stepped up to the oche and coolly checked out at the first time of asking from 160.
Up until last December, nobody in Plymouth had had more success in the Champion of Champions that Flynn Jones.
He won no fewer than five titles, an exceptional feat which was equalled when Simon Stevenson took the 2017 crown.
Jones first won the prestigious title back in 1988 when he defeated John Goves, who will always be remembered as Plymouth’s first champion when he won the trophy in 1985.
Jones made the final again in 1991 but came off second best when he was defeated by Phil Byatt.
Goves became the first player to win the title three times when he emerged the winner in 1993 but his feat was equalled by Jones when he won consecutive titles in 1994 and 1995.
Jones was again on the winning trail in 1998 and became the first player to win the title on four occasions when he defeated Steve Rice.
There was a gap of four years before success came Jones’s way again and he earned himself a fifth title when he defeated Simon Stevenson in 2003, who at the time was defending champion.
JUST CHAMPION: Flynn Jones with the Champion of Champions trophy that he has won on no
fewer than five occasions.
The quality of players that take part in Champion of Champions makes it very hard to win the title, but it is even harder to defend, and this was the case in December 2004 when Jones was ousted by Mark Turner who went on to lose in the final of that year to Cornishman Colin Sibley.
Between 2005 and 2008, Jones plied his trade at the Ker St Social Club four nights of the week, playing in the Monday Premier League, Bruce Harrison Builders 501 Top 20 League, KSSC Mixed League and the Plymouth and District Friday League.
In the season of 2008/2009 his Monday night team left the Monday Premier League and entered the Plymouth Open League where they won their divisional title in three consecutive years, finishing as division one champions.
In that first year of 2008/09, Jones won the individual title and the doubles crown with Ralph Lancaster and the duo successfully defended the following year.
It was around this time that Jones developed a frozen shoulder, medically known as Adhesive Capsulitis and his prowess was curtailed somewhat on a weekly basis.
Following extensive injections and physiotherapy, Jones came to the fore in 2013 when once again he won the Plymouth Open League singles title and that was the last time that his darting prowess was seen in the city.
Jones left Plymouth and moved to Seaton in east Devon where, after being curtailed once more with his frozen shoulder, picked up his darts again in 2016.
He represented a hostelry that went by the name of PJ’s in the Colyton League and went through his first season undefeated as well as winning the singles knockout at the end of the campaign.
In the summer of that year, whilst playing for The Vault in the Axminster Summer League, Jones emerged as the individual champion and in 2017 while turning out for The Dolphin in the Colyton League, he once again won the end of season, singles knockout.
Where his darting journey will take him next no one knows, but one thing is for sure, that where ever that may be, it won’t take Flynn Jones long to make his name known far and wide within that darting fraternity.