THERE have been many good darts players over the years who have graced the Ladies’ Independent League, arguably the strongest of the ladies’ leagues in its prime.
One of the very best was Pam Smith.
She began playing in 1980 at the Royal Sovereign, at the age of 24, and it was not too long before her talent shone through and was selected to captain the side.
As well as turning out on a Thursday night she was also playing on a Wednesday and in the 1984-85 campaign, playing for The Melbourne in the Arry’s Ockey Mixed League, the team achieved league runners-up and Pam and Kim Kemp won the ladies’ doubles title when beating Frances Baskerville and Brenda Jago (Standard Inn).
Melbourne were also champions of the Western Automatic League in the summer of 1985 and Pam and Kim were doubles winners once again.
The following season the deadly duo, now playing for the First and Last, retained their doubles title when defeating Dot Dugdale and Fran Baskerville (Standard).
In the season of 1986-87 Royal Sovereign made their debut in the Ladies Independent League and were champions of division E, with Pam winning the Captain’s title when defeating Duke of Somerset’s Teresa Bird 2-1.
In 1987, whilst playing for First and Last in the Wednesday Mixed Summer League she hit the best game of the season when winning a 701 leg in 20 darts for a 35.05 average
CHAMPIONS: Captain Pam Smith (centre) proudly holds aloft the silverware after The Clifton went through their debut season in the Ladies' Independent League undefeated.
Pam became a member of the Futurama team that were to play in the Devon Super League and they won the title in their first season. They went on to win the title again for the next two campaigns before the team was disbanded.
It was also in 1987-88 that Pam was chosen to represent Devon for the first time in the British Inter County Championships where she went on to represent the county on 18 occasions, winning 10 of them.
In her first county season, Pam was lady-of-the-match for the B team in December 1987, when Devon hosted Oxfordshire and her average of 19.61 bettered all the averages of the 10 A team players that competed the following day.
She claimed the award again in February 1988 when Devon played Suffolk and followed that achievement up in May, after being promoted to the A team, with a win over Sue Edwards of the West of England (Avon) with a 22.51 average.
The last time she claimed a county award was in February 1989 away at Breconshire when Pam won 2-1 with the highest average of 18.42.
The following season in the Ladies’ Independent League, Pam faced the experienced Lorraine Arscott (Lion and Column) in the final of the Captain’s Cup and it lived up to all expectations.
Lorraine got off to the best possible start when hitting her opening double with her first visit and aided by four scores over 60 arrived at her double first, but Pam, although 15 darts behind, put in throws of 60, 95, 81, 60 and 82 before hitting double 16 at the first time of asking to go 1-0 up.
Both finalists were away in the opening three darts of the second leg but scores from Lorraine of 100, 95, 60 and 66 saw her down to the double first again.
But Arscott could not press home her advantage and Pam hit double four to win in straight legs and take the Captain’s title for the third consecutive year.
In July 1988, she contested the second Evening Herald Champion of Champions for lady darts players but despite putting out the inaugural champion Sandra Kester in round one, she was defeated in the final, losing in three straight legs to an in-form Evelyn Torbet.
In the 1990-91 season Pam, won the Marge England Cup with a 2-1 defeat of Gill Ham (The Fawn) and also lifted the trophy for the scorer of the most tons for the third Ladies’ Independent League campaign in succession.
That same season, Pam played in the Tower Cabs Wednesday League where she won the ladies’ individual title with victory against Georgina Dodds.
On Friday, May 17, 1991, history was made when an all-woman team, representing the Mechanics, made their debut in the Plymouth City Super League.
Pam Smith was an integral part of that team which also included Annie Lane, Maddy Josey, Kay Lazarus, Patsy Fletcher, Georgina Dodd, Pauline Davey, Jane Downing and Fiona Bland.
In June 1991, Pam and Patsy Fletcher won the Evening Herald-sponsored ladies’ doubles competition in aid of the Tracie Scott Trust Fund which began with no fewer than 128 pairings.
Tracie Scott at the time was a Plymouth darts player who sadly had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
In their opening match on finals night at the Blue Circle Social Club, they defeated the Mechanics duo of Marilyn Evans and Val Kent in straight legs and looked champions all the way.
In the semi-final they overcame Nicoli Earp and Annette White (Butchers Arms) to set up a meeting with Yvonne Godfrey and Trish Matlock (The Elburton) in the final.
The Royal Adelaide duo went on to lift the trophy having gone through the evening without dropping a leg.
In May 1992, Pam was instrumental in setting up the Ladies’ Summer Money League and captained the team representing the Royal Adelaide.
The Mechanics always boasted a strong side, but Pam’s team became the first side to beat them . . . and by a 9-4 margin.
In that match, Pam top scored with nine throws of a ton or more and inflicted a first singles defeat on Annie Lane.
The following week, Pam inspired Royal Adelaide to a 10-3 victory against Drake’s Drum, top scoring with 11 ton plus throws which included a maximum 180 and partnered with Patsy Fletcher, clinched their doubles in 38 darts which was the best game of the week.
Mechanics finished as league champions with Royal Adelaide as runners-up, but Smith and team mate Fletcher jointly topped the singles table with just one defeat each from their 14 matches
In the 1991-92 campaign of the Ladies’ Independent League, Pam was denied a league championship trophy when Royal Adelaide lost their final match of the season.
They went into that fixture with a two-point advantage over Mechanics but were denied the title when defeated by Bluebird, a team that had only won five of their previous 17 matches.
Royal Adelaide cruelly lost the title on aggregate but did have some consolation when they won the Knockout Cup.
WINNING DOUBLE: Westcountry Television presenter David Foster helps Pam Smith celebrate after she won two titles, including the individual crown at the finals and presentation evening of the 1995-96 Ladies’ Independent League.
In 1993 The Evening Herald sponsored a ladies’ doubles evening which raised funds for the city-based charity CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Children).
Played at the Saltram Club, the winners were Pam Smith and Patsy Fletcher with Kath Brockie and Jill Williams as runners up.
The following year, Pam played for First and Last in the Dawes Mixed League and in one match alone it was reported that she claimed a singles win after hitting four 140s and a checkout of 147.
It was also in 1994 that Pam and Patsy proved once again what a formidable pairing they were when they won the Ladies Charity doubles tournament which was in aid of the Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit at Derriford Hospital.
In 1995-96 Pam was now playing for Clifton A in their debut season and they won Division D with an unblemished record, having won all of their 22 matches.
Pam also won two titles that season at the finals and presentation evening of the Ladies Independent League.
In the contest for the Marge England Cup, Smith looked a winner right from the start against Michelle Cheetham (Union Inn).
She recorded two tons in her first three throws before taking the first leg in 23 and two more tons in the next laid the foundations for a 2-0 victory
Later in the evening she was crowned as the individual champion when she beat Donna Andrews (Torpoint Rowing Club) in the final.
Around the turn of the new Millennium, Pam was now “Nan” to three granddaughters and after her son had left Plymouth to further his career in Reading, she spent a lot of her time up there and darts virtually stopped.
But her achievements are in the record books and were gained when the Ladies’ Independent League was in its heyday, boasting many good lady players at the time.
Pam said: “I really loved my darts, but with the family growing, they had to take priority and I was spending more time in Berkshire than Devon.
“But although I no longer play, I still cherish the memories”.