MANY great darts players have represented Devon in the British Inter County Championship over the years, but not many have come close to Trevor Perry’s achievement of 212 appearances.
Only 15 male players have gone through the 100-game barrier since Devon’s inception into the BDO as a founder member back in the early seventies.
The season of 1973-74 saw the birth of the BDO Inter-County Championships and Devon were one of just 10 teams who took part in the inaugural competition. The other nine being Cheshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, London, Somerset, Surrey, Thames Valley and the West of England (later to become Avon).
The nearest that any player has come to matching Perry’s record have been Andy Steed (158), Ian Knight (157) and Neil Howe (153).
Trevor’s love for darts began in 1974 when, as a 14-year-old schoolboy, he used to practice for hours on end in the house of his friend Pete Tomlinson when they lived in Tiverton.
But it was three years later, playing for the Seven Stars that he began to show some ability and from that initial baptism, the game just grew on him.
CHAMPIONS: Trevor Perry (left) and Chris Hunt receive the Gold Cup Pairs Champions trophy from Embassy’s John Exon at the famous Lakeside in 2002.
After taking some notable scalps on the oche’s of Tiverton, Trevor was approached by Barry Hutchings, one of the top players around at the time and asked to join his team at the Exeter Inn which was the best side in the town.
Hutchings was a big influence on Trevor’s career as was Devon legend Peter Taylor who, along with Hutchings was instrumental in introducing him to Devon County.
Peter Taylor will always be remembered as the first Devon player partnered with Plymouth’s Shady Lane to lift the BDO Gold Cup Pairs title in 1986, a feat that Perry himself would emulate later in his career.
Once involved in the county scene, Trevor’s passion for all things Devon became a 30-year obsession. He made his county debut in February 1982. Despite travelling as a reserve, the car that Plymothian’s Nicky Chapman and Martin Smith were travelling in broke down and Trevor seized his opportunity.
In that era the B matches were played over the best of three legs but despite being “as nervous as a kitten”, Perry chalked up his first success in the county shirt.
In the season of 1995-96 there was as much noise away from the oche than there was on it and subsequently a new committee was formed, with Trevor elected as men’s captain, a position which he was proud to hold continuously until standing down in 2012.
His best winning streak was 12 wins on the trot over two seasons which included victories over Cornwall legend John Goves and the Northern Ireland captain Steve Brennan who played for Suffolk.
Brennan made his Embassy World Darts championship debut in 1982 and caused one of the greatest upsets in darts history when beating defending champion Eric Bristow in round one.
Without any doubt whatsoever, Trevor’s biggest personal achievement in darts was being able to captain the county side for all those years. He loved winning but loved Devon and his team mates more and in 2010 the pinnacle of his county career came when Devon was promoted to the BDO Inter Counties premier division.
So intense was Perry’s passion for Devon, when the promotion was achieved away at Bedfordshire he actually sat down and cried.
In the Devon Super League Perry has graced his presence playing for teams in Tiverton, Thorverton, Exeter, Barnstaple, Honiton, Cullompton and South Molton.
Tiverton sides Stanfield and White Avengers and Prince Regent both went on to represent Devon in the National Champion’s Cup reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals in 1983 and 1984 respectively.
Both teams losing to the eventual winners Swan Inn from Oxfordshire in 1983 and the Pump Tavern from Handsworth in 1984.
On a personal note Perry won six super league individual titles and represented the county five times at the World Masters, three times at the Gold Cup singles, four appearances at the World Professional and the England National singles on three occasions.
Perry also made four appearances in the BDO Gold Cup pairs but in 2002, partnered with Chris Hunt, the duo went all the way claiming the title on the famous Lakeside stage with a 4-1 victory over Scottish internationals Mike Veitch and George Dalglish who were also runners-up the previous year.
The year 2002 was also good to Trevor when he reached the last 16 of the World Masters losing to Belgium’s Erik Clarys.
It was also in the February of that year that Trevor entered a round robin competition at the Ker St, Social Club, Plymouth and hit an incredible 15 maximums before going on to take the title.
Perry recorded nine 180s during the 10-game round robin stages and a further six in the knockout stages with three coming in a high quality final when defeating Flynn Jones.
In the semi-final, Trevor was trailing 4-1 to Neil “Chalkie White but bounced back to win 5-4.
He won the same tournament 12 months later when defeating Plymouth’s Alan Brunton in the final 6-1 with a 30.92 average.
In May 2002, Devon won their second promotion in as many years when finishing as runners-up to champions Cleveland and under Perry’s guidance moved up into division two for the first time in their history.
After playing county darts for more than 20 years, Perry finished the 2002/2003 campaign as Devon’s leading player for the first time, topping the rankings with a single dart average of 26.55.
He kept that position for another 12 months and finished top of the pile at the end of 2002-2003, boasting 16 wins from 17 matches with the highest overall average of 26.93.
Perry won the 2004 Railway Clubs national singles title in Glasgow, representing GWRSA (Taunton) and further individual success came his way when winning the Isle of Wight Open (2006), Kent Open (2009), the Italian Masters (2012), Bulgaria Open (2013) and the semi-final of the Austrian pairs with Paul Godbeer in 2010.
In 1991, Perry teamed up with Devon colleagues Neil Howe and Peter Taylor to win the Websters Nations Triples in Twickenham.
SERVICES RECOGNISED: Trevor Perry (centre) had his services to Devon recognised in 2000 when he was awarded the Les Best Memorial Shield, for services to the county and was also made a life member of the Devon County Darts Organisation. Sue Frankpitt (left) took the ladies’ award while also pictured are county chairman Di Carpenter (second left) and county stalwarts Joan and John McLintock.
Singles and Pairs titles have been in abundance in the various local leagues that the marksman has graced, including 15 Tiverton league pairs titles, nine of them with Terry Chapman including five on the bounce from 1992 until 1996.
He has played in leagues in Tiverton, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Barnstaple, Bideford, Plymouth, Cullompton, Honiton, Wellington Exmoor, Culm Valley, Creedy Valley, Crediton, Taunton, Exmouth and Thelbridge, winning individual titles in all but four of them.
The highest possible checkout of 170 has been achieved in matches by Perry no fewer than 34 times, two of them coming on the county stage against Suffolk and Sussex.
His longest winning sequence of matches was 67 playing in the now defunct Thelbridge Darts League, a record which spanned four seasons during the 1980s.
Back in 2009, Trevor began an association with Ryan Searle who plays on the PDC main tour.
Playing in the Devon Youth team, Searle hit an average of 30.06 in one match and followed it up in a youth competition with a best mark of 29.47.
Off the back of that, Searle was invited to join the senior county squad and quickly worked his way into the A team. Three years later Trevor’s involvement with Devon sadly came to an end after 30 years.
Trevor knew from experience that Searle was destined for better things and the pair forged a close relationship which still remains to this day.
Perry mentored him around national BDO comps until Ryan decided to join the PDC Challenge Tour in 2014.
Two years later Ryan finished second to Rob Cross and earned himself a two-year card on the PDC Pro Tour and his position in the top 64 elite players still remains three years later.
Trevor’s prowess on the oches of Devon has stretched a long way from his very first title in the Tiverton Summer League of 1981 right through to last season when he claimed his 73rd and 74th single titles in an exceptional darting career.
Playing in the Creedy Valley League for the very first time only last season, he won the over 50s title, the individual title as well as topping the averages.
There is little more you can say about a man who is Devon through and through and has achieved so much in his beloved sport, but I am going to leave the last words to Devon County Super League secretary Paul Godbeer.
Paul said “without question, Trevor has given more to darts in Devon than any other.
“In the days when he was captain of Devon, he would support all of the other 35 games without fail and leading by example all the other players would support each other too. He bred a team spirit that is sadly lacking in the squad today.
“In my opinion Trevor is the most selfless individual I have ever had the privilege of playing alongside and when he stepped aside due to ‘darting politics’ it was the biggest loss that Devon could ever have ever suffered”.
But fortunes change and Trevor has recently got involved with Devon once more, advising and supporting them on their latest journey in the premier division of the British Inter County Championship.
A finer mentor you could not have.