Teenage prodigy and first darts title before his 20th birthday to Super League champion 25 years on

A TORPOINT schoolboy showed talent on the oche at an early age and was a teenage prodigy, whose talent grew under the watchful eye of his darts-playing father David Snr, thus enabling him to win his first title before his 20th birthday.

Dave Collins tasted league darts for the first time in the season of 1993-94 when, aged just 16, he joined his Dad in the Torpoint League, playing for St Johns Inn on a Friday evening..

He won his first singles title in 1995-96 when defeating Richard Rice in the final and successfully defended his crown the following campaign, defeating another seasoned campaigner Russ Bowden.

In the same season, whilst playing on a Monday for Wheelers in the Bass Open League, Collins and his partner Chris Todd, became the two youngest players ever to win a league title when, aged 19 and 18 respectively, the duo defeated the experienced Derek Bryce and Taff Griffiths 2-0 in the doubles final.

The following campaign in the Torpoint League, Collins won another pairs title when partnered with Terry Carey.

INDIVIDUAL WINNER: Dave Collins (right) photographed with Steve Marker before contesting the 2006 individual final of the Trophydart Men's League which Collins won in three straight legs to deny Marker a third title on the night.

He played for Cornwall Youth for two years from 1994-1996 and during this period competed in the British Teenage Open, defeating his brother Mark in the county final, which enabled him to represent Cornwall in the grand finals at Granby Hall, Leicester.

He repeated that feat and was Cornwall’s representative for the next two seasons which included the finals at the Rochdale Ballroom where he got through to the last 32 before bowing out.

Dave also qualified for the UK Masters in the doubles with Darren Penhall but was denied his opportunity when Penhall refused to get in contact with regards travel arrangements and subsequently received a two-year ban.

In 1996, Dave played for the first time in the Cornwall Super League for Torpoint Rowing Club where they got through to the play-off finals.

But only a year later, and now playing for the Kings Arms (Torpoint), the team which also consisted of Steve (Tug) Wilson, Mark Turner, Fran Julian, Tony Delviso and Malcolm Johns, won the Premier East title, going through the season with just one defeat.

Collins also played in the Cornwall Super League for the Carew Inn (1998-99) and in the season of 1999-2000 started at the Standard Inn.

Success came again in 2003 when Standard won the Men’s Premier East title having gone through the campaign winning all but one of their 22 matches.

At the age of 21, Dave was picked to represent Cornwall in the British Inter County Championships and made his senior debut away to Berkshire.

One of his few regrets is the fact that he could not play for Cornwall over an extended period and sadly, due to work commitments, he was only able to don the black and gold shirt on eight occasions.

Dave also played in the Plymouth darts leagues and in 2006 was playing for the Jubilee in the Trophydart Men’s League.

In their first season, Collins, partnered with Mike Bulmer and Gary Whittles made the final of the trebles against Chris Nixon, Steve Marker and Graham Bryce.

They lost the opening leg of 701 in 25 darts but won the second to level, only to lose the deciding leg in 23 to an inform Windmill trio.

Marker also went on to win the Captain’s Cup and was now aiming for a hat-trick of titles when he contested the individual crown, but despite his third maximum of the evening, it was Dave Collins who clinched the title with an emphatic 3-0 score-line.

Work commitments were also to take its toll on Dave’s appearances in the Monday and Wednesday leagues and subsequently it was only on a Friday that he could play on a regular basis.

But that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm and he went on to be a tour de force, playing in the Plymouth City Super League.

FORMIDABLE: The formidable pose on the oche of Dave Collins, who has earned himself a lot of admirers for his performances in the Plymouth City Super League.

He first played in the league in 2001, playing for The Albert, moved to the St Levan in 2004, before having to stop darts altogether.

But darts was always in his blood and work commitments eventually allowed him to show his prowess once again in the Plymouth City Super League when he signed on for Plympton Cons in 2008.

Despite a four-year break, it did not take Dave long to get back in the groove and in his first season back on the oche, he claimed 15 games in 38 or less, including two 33-darters and was the team’s leading marksman on 14 occasions.

The following campaign saw Collins take a top six finish in the individual table with 27 wins from 34 starts and he claimed 18 of those victories in under 38 including two successes in 28 and 29.

The first seven visits in his 28-dart leg harvested scores of 100-100-140-100-140-140-140 and he was the team’s top scorer 19 times.

In 2010 Plympton Cons finished the season in fourth place and after week 25, Collins was topping the individual table with 22 wins but could only win seven more from the last 13 and disappointingly finished in third spot.

In week 11, when Plympton Cons visited Maxines, Dave won his treble with Phil Stewart and Andy Malinowski in 36, won his doubles with Stewart in 36 before going on to take his singles in 33, aided by a checkout of 147.

He won no fewer than 26 games that season in under 38 darts, 11 coming in under 35 and was the team’s top tons scorer on 19 occasions. Collins was again prominent in 2011 with 23 wins under 38 darts, 13 coming in under 35.

In 2012, Plympton Cons finished the season in fourth place and Collins was third in the singles tables with 26 wins, three behind joint winners Steve Marker and Mark Hatherley.

During that campaign, Dave had a treble’s win in 32 followed by a 32 singles victory which began with back to back 180s. He was leading marksman in double figures 13 times with 100x16 being his best haul.

The team improved their placing in 2013 and finished as runners-up to City Social A. This was also the season that the league changed the format of the individual games and they were now contested over the best of three legs of 501.

As early as week three, Dave won 2-0 in 15 and 16 to post a 32.32 average and achieved the same average again when winning in 17 and 14 in week 11. Two other notable averages in that campaign were 27.08 and 28.63.

Plympton Cons A were crowned league champions in 2014 just two points ahead of The Windmill and Dave was the team’s most consistent player with 33 wins.

He posted an average greater than 30.00 on four occasions when he achieved 32.32 twice (13 and 18) (14 & 17), 31.31 (16 and 16), 30.36 (19 & 14).

The following year Plympton Cons had to settle for runners up after Windmill took back their crown and Collins was also second in the singles table.

He was the team’s top scorer 13 times which included two 100x17 hauls, one of which came in a high-scoring 6-5 defeat by The Staddy, a match that produced 138 tons.

CHAMPION: Plymouth City Super League secretary Steve Rice presents Dave Collins with his award for finishing the 2018 season as singles champion, going through the campaign with 38 wins from 40 starts.

The format changed again this year with the singles being contested over the best of five legs and Dave’s top performance of the campaign resulted in a 30.67 average when winning 3-0 in 16, 16 and 17.

Cons finished fourth in 2016 and on a personal note Dave’s best wins came in 13, 13 and 16 (35.78) and 17, 18, and 15 (30.06).

The following year, Collins inspired the side to runners up behind GWRSA (Laira) and he was third in the individual table behind winner John Mann who went through the season undefeated.

But his crowning glory came only weeks ago when, 25 years after his introduction into competitive darts, Dave proved to be the best player in the Plymouth City Super League when he clinched the singles title and also emerged as the top marksman in the Players Championship standings.

Victories in his last two fixtures enabled the Plympton Cons A marksman to top the singles table with 38 wins from 40 starts, three in front of runner-up John Mann.

He also pipped the Porters B player in the Players Championship when, in his final match, which Cons won 11-0 away at St Levan Inn, Collins top scored with 16 throws of a ton or more.

That enabled him to top the rankings with a season’s total of 204.5 against second placed Mann, who had already finished his campaign on 199.6.

But Dave Collins will not rest on his laurels and he will be back on the oche, doing what he does best, when a new campaign commences in September.

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