Ivor was a champion . . . but cruelly denied the opportunity to finish his best years on the oche

A CAREER in any sport has to end at some stage, but when someone is forced into an early retirement due to a debilitating illness, then that is cruel, which is what happened when another of Plymouth’s top players, Ivor Newman, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Newman fell in love with the sport when he was just 17 years of age and began in the Yelverton and District League, playing for the Glenholt Country Club.

After four seasons there, he started to ply his trade in the Country Inns League for the Westward Inn and in the 1982-83 campaign had the most wins of any player, having finished the season with an unblemished record.

Still playing in the Country Inns League he moved to the Unicorn in 1984-85 and scooped the award for the most wins in a season again, and for a third time in 1985-86.

WINNER: Ivor Newman being presented with a cheque for £100 by Cliff Lazarenko after winning the South West of England area play-offs of the Oxford Mail Cockney Classic.

It was also in this season that Newman won his first individual title as Country Inns singles champion.

The Champion of Champions, which is much revered by Plymouth’s darts players, was launched in 1985 and Ivor Newman won his way to the inaugural grand final where he came up against John Goves, who he found too good on the day.

Goves also won the event the following year and in 1987 was on a hat-trick of wins but was denied the honour.

In the quarter-finals Goves lost to Newman, who avenged that defeat of two years earlier, and showed that the victory was no fluke when he went on to take the title with a win against Brian Harvey.

His first taste of darts outside of the Country Inns League came in 1986-87 when he competed for the Star of the West, a hostelry now long gone, but was situated in Brownlow Street, just off Union Street.

He played in a very successful team there that was captained by Charlie Fletcher and around this time also competed for the No Place in the Plymouth and District League where the side won the league title on more than one occasion.

In 1986 Ivor took part in the Bobby George Challenge, a competition at the time which was open to all players of Courage outlets.

Various play-offs were held to determine who would play the “king of bling” on the night and Ivor, representing the Colebrook Inn, was one of 10 to make the line-up.

He was the only player to beat him and was presented with an engraved tankard to commemorate the feat of his victory. Newman won 2-1, played over the best of three legs of 501, achieving a single dart average of 26.60.

Newman played for the Fellowship Inn during the 1987-88 campaign and the team finished as runners up in division A of the Courage League.

As house champion, he represented the Colebrook Inn in the area finals of the 1988 News of the World competition and in the same year represented Futurama in the Devon County Super League.

Ivor was now playing in the Halls Oxford and West (formerly, Red Hand, Ind Coope) League and representing The Woodside, won through to the area finals of the Oxford Mail Cockney Classic in September 1989.

He emerged the winner with a cheque of £100 being presented to him by Cliff Lazarenko and following that victory, Ivor represented the South West of England in the finals, which were televised by Thames Sport at the Sunbury XS Club, Sunbury-on-Thames on October 10 and October 11.

Eight area finalists lined up for the TV cameras with eyes on the £2,500 winner’s cheque and there was a further £2,500 to be won if the winner could beat Eric Bristow in a one leg challenge match.

On the day, Newman left his best darts behind as he went out at the first hurdle, beaten by Steve Brown who had been the Cockney Classic Champion in both 1986 and 1987

But on the local darts scene, the Woodside and Newman personally, both had a remarkable 1988-89 campaign.

The side were league and cup double winners of the Halls Men’s League and Newman won the two prestigious singles titles at the finals and presentation evening, contested at the Exmouth Social Club.

In the final of the Superchamps he defeated Nottingham’s Tony Turner 2-1 but saved his best darts for the singles final when he faced opposition from Flynn Jones, who was representing the Jolly Miller.

Despite Jones notching two tons in the opening leg, Newman replied with throws of 121 and 114 and hit double 18 at the first time of asking to go one up.

Jones’ opening throw of the second leg was 140, but Newman was the more consistent player hitting 85-100-32-100-100 before finishing in three from 84, for a win in 18.

LONE WINNER: Ivor Newman was the only player to beat Bobby George and was presented with an engraved tankard to commemorate the feat of his victory, which he achieved with a single dart average of 26.60.

In 1990 Newman once again flirted with the News of the World competition as house champion for The Woodside and also in that year, with his brother-in-law Martin Godfrey, they were winners on the popular Central Television darts programme, Bullseye.

They took up the offer of presenter Jim Bowen to score 101 with six darts and Martin, the “non-darts player”, went up and scored 98. They walked away with £2,000 in cash.

In 1991, Woodside were again league and cup winners, the league having changed its name once again to the Ansells League.

In January of that year, Dennis Priestley won his first world championship title under the auspices of the BDO when he defeated Eric Bristow 6-0.

Later in the year, the management team of the Plymouth Matchroom Centre replicated that final when they brought the two finalists to the city on Sunday, June 30, to play an exhibition against each other over the world championship format.

Before Bristow and Priestley faced each other again across the oche, they each played two warm up games against Plymouth darts players Ivor Newman, Flynn Jones, Mark Pocock and Bruce Harrison, over one leg of 1001, but only one was successful.

Newman played Bristow and defeated him in 28 darts for a 35.75 average, helped by a mid-leg salvo of 700 points scored with 15 darts.

His complete game was 45-135-60-100-180-100-140-180-45 before hitting double eight at the first time of asking on his next visit.

The former world champion could only stand and admire at Newman’s performance and said after: “That’s one that I would have been proud of”.

The licensees at the Woodside, George and Gloria Rosevear left the establishment in 1991-92, moving to the The Clifton where they achieved many a success with their darts teams until retiring in 2002.

In their first season, The Clifton competed in the Men’s Whitbread League and George and Ivor won the Joe Bickle Cup.

Sadly, that was the last trophy that Newman was to win as towards the end of 1992, he was diagnosed with MS and his darting prowess was never to be seen on a dartboard again.

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