IF you have the talent, age is invariably not important, and so it proved when Evelyn Fulton decided that she was going to try her luck on the dart oches of Plymouth.
A native of Scotland, Evelyn and her husband Joe were very good friends with one of Plymouth’s outstanding players in his prime, Graham Bryce.
At the time, Evelyn had never thrown a dart in her life, but watching Graham play at various times, decided she also wanted to compete.
Bryce showed her the rudiments of the game, like how to hold the dart, where to stand on the oche etc, but as in most cases of very successful players, she had natural ability and the rest as they say is history.
NEWS OF THE WORLD: Evelyn Torbet (second left) lines up for the camera as the South West Devon representative in the Western Counties divisional finals at St George’s Hall, Exeter in April 1990.
Evelyn began playing for the Ferryboat in the season of 1981-82 at the very late age of 35 but just three seasons later she was competing in her first ever final, but was edged out 2-1 in the Ladies’ Independent League singles by Marilyn Evans (Mechanics A).
The same season, Evelyn was competing in the Les Best Wednesday League playing for Ferryboat who won the league title and she also won the individual crown with 13 wins from 14 starts before leaving The Ferryboat to move to Caseys.
The Champion of Champions tournament, now in its 34th year, was launched for the first time in 1985 and Evelyn exceeded all expectations by winning through to the last 16 in the inaugural tournament..
In her opening match she shocked former World Master Cliff “Ticker” Inglis 3-0 before going on to end the hopes of Mike Chambers.
Evelyn was the only player to hit a maximum 180 along with five 140s and seven tons. She also achieved the highest finish on the night when checking out from 108.
On Sunday December 15, at the First and Last, Exeter Street, she was joined by Ivor Newman, Martyn Luders, Chris Hillon, Graham Bryce, Dave Bell, Shady Lane, John Goves, Nicky Chapman, Bob Turner, Ray Tucknott, Mike Miles, Bobby Rymell, Bruce Harrison, L Parker and A Hill.
Despite giving a good account of herself, Evelyn was defeated by Mike Miles before John Goves was crowned champion when he defeated Ivor Newman in the final.
At the start of the 1985-86 campaign Evelyn was playing for Caseys in both the Ladies Independent League and also the Arrys Ockey Mixed League and in January1986, playing against The Albert Gate, she hit 125 and 180 before checking out in 14 from a double start to win the opening game of the fixture.
Her best years though were at The Mechanics and she moved there for the first time to compete at the start of the 1986-87 season.
Evelyn was picked to represent Devon in the 1988/89 campaign but only played for that season. She played in all nine matches and had a 75%-win ratio with six victories.
Evelyn’s county debut came for Devon B in September 1988 when, against Pembrokeshire she claimed the lady of the match award with an 18.91 average.
After three matches in the ladies’ B team she was promoted to Devon A in December away at Somerset and achieved the lady of the match award again when winning with a 19.77 average.
In June 1988, Evelyn was the second winner of the Tamar Sport / Evening Herald Ladies’ Champion of Champions when she defeated Pam Smith 3-0.
Evelyn got to the champs final with wins over June Pooley (Terminus) and Ann Durnian (The Abbey) to set up the final against Pam Smith who had knocked out the holder Sandra Kester (Ferryboat) in round one and Stephanie Barham (Pennycross SC) in the last four.
The victory completed a memorable weekend for Evelyn who had mixed with some of the top names the previous day at the Haywards Mixed Pairs finals at Frimley Green.
Partnered with John Goves, the duo had survived to the second round before they went down to England international Joan Parnley and Surrey county player Bill Pratt.
Evelyn said: “It was a great experience and we hope to be back next year. I have never ever played in that standard of darts before.”
What with prize money, overnight accommodation, expenses and assorted Haywards products, it was a taste of the good life (picture below).
After the break-up of her marriage to Joe, Evelyn reverted back to her maiden name of Torbet and competed in the world-famous News of the World tournament.
There were only two separate occasions when there was a News of the World tournament for lady darts players, 1990 and 1997.
Representing The Mechanics, Evelyn entered the 1990 event, hoping for further progress and was not disappointed.
She won through to the Devon area play-offs at the Ex-Service Men’s Club, Paignton and in her first match defeated Torquay’s S Cockram in straight legs and was again a 2-0 winner when she beat C Bennett of Paignton in the semi-finals.
In the final she faced M Jones from Totnes and emerged a 2-1 winner to represent South West Devon in the Western Counties divisional finals at St George’s Hall, Exeter on Friday, April 6, 1990.
Unfortunately, Evelyn was not able to progress to the Grand Finals at the Docklands Arena, London, after she was defeated 2-0 by the Bristol area champion Louise Perry.
The Western Divisional ladies’ representative at the grand finals was Dawn Lingard of the Lamb Inn, Nr Axbridge, Somerset, but she was defeated 2-1 in the first round by the Scottish champion, Cathie McCulloch.
In the season of 1990-91 Evelyn won the individual title of the Ladies’ Independent League when she defeated Rhonda Stevens (Kings Arms) 2-0, winning the second leg with a checkout of 124.
She then partnered Sally Shone to clinch the doubles title when beating the Archer Inn partnership of Josie Lowe and Pat Massey.
In 1991-92 Mechanics were league champions of the Ladies Independent League and Evelyn won the Marge England Cup when beating Teresa Jasper (now Brookshaw) and went on to claim the doubles title once more with Sally Shone.
Evelyn was crowned individual champion of the Ladies’ Independent League again in the 1992-93 campaign, the third time she had won the title.
She warmed up for her main event when winning the Secretaries’ Cup against Radfdord RNCC’s Sue Welland before edging out Anne Durnian (Archer Inn) 2-1 to be crowned individual champion once again.
In 1994-95 Mechanics were again league champions and Evelyn and Sally regained their doubles title.
The following season Mechanics retained their title and went through the campaign undefeated winning all 22 matches and finishing 12 pts clear of runners up Butchers Arms.
In the Ladies’ Independent League season of 1997-97, Evelyn was still an influential player at the Mechanics, and they emerged as the team of the season, winning everything they possibly could.
They took the Division A title, the Knockout Cup, the Lorraine Arscott Cup and also the divisional Cissie Hillson Cup.
For some unknown reason the team began to break up and they never won the title again, they did however, have Gill Joyce winning the individual crown in the season of 1999-2000.
The new champions were The Brunel and they retained their title at the turn of the new millennium.
Evelyn left Plymouth in 2003 to move to Teesside in the North of England and now into her 70s, still plays three times a week for various pubs in Hartlepool.