VIDEO: Pontefract man switches darts for nails and screwdrivers
Hitting a bullseye with a dart is hard enough, but how about using a simple household nail or a screwdriver?
For John Irwin, such stunts were more than just a pub party trick, it was his profession.
The Pontefract resident spent years employed by brewery firm Bass and was paid to tour pubs and clubs holding exhibitions to show off his unique skill, taking on dart players, and more often than not, beating them.
After retiring years ago, and having now just turned 68, the oche ace is ready to pick up the 4 ins masonry nails he has had for 45 years and is practicing hard to challenge darts players once again.
He said: “Its something I need to do, I’ve bought myself a dart board and I feel as though I’m ready to take on more exhibitions.
“It’s coming along fine, the only problem is I’m just playing against myself at the moment, but I’m still banging in the tons (scoring 100s)
“It’s bit of fun and I can’t wait to get going.
“I want to get the first one under my belt and I’ll see how it goes.”
Originally from Glasgow, John proved himself as an excellent darts player in his day, representing West Sussex and Yorkshire at county level - the standard at which some of the UK’s finest players still compete today.
He even threw the perfect leg during one match - the nine-dart finish - completing 501 in the minimum number of throws possible.
But it was one night in a pub that three men throwing nails at the dartboard caught his attention.
“I was fascinated by it, ” added John.
“I asked to have a go and got the bug from there.
“The first ones I threw all landed in the floor, but I began practising hours on end.
“For three weeks I had backache having to pick the nails up off the floor each time!”
From there John worked on his technique, which he says is very different from throwing a dart.
His first exhibition was in Airedale during the miners’ strike in 1984, which he says made him even more nervous given the mood among mining communities at the time.
However, he said the evening went down a storm’ and gave him the confidence.
Working under Bass’ travelling roadshow, he would take on around 16 players a night and if anyone beat him they would receive a free barrel of beer.
He would even switch from nails to screwdrivers, and still rarely lost a match.
John even hold a unique world record - the only player to complete an 11-nail finish.
He now has his eye set on going a step further. He explained: “I want to give myself two years to get the nine-nail finish.
“I did a 13 the other day, but I hope I can get a nine.”
To book John for an exhibition, contact him on [email protected]