Oxford University Darts Club
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|Oxford University Darts Club|
Oxford University Darts Club runs the inter-collegiate darts league which is the fifth best participated sport at the university. Around 300 players compete in the inter-collegiate league each week, representing one of the 25 college teams entered into the competition. The club can also lay claim to the accolade of being the largest Student Darts organisation in the world, as well as the oldest active darts clubs in existence.
OUDC was founded in 1887. It began life as a secret drinking society named The Merry Men, a name which came about due to the ethos expounded by Robin Hood, which befitted the working class origins of the members and their ancestors, as well as the general merriment that the club encouraged. The Darts Club was formed some years later as the club abandoned its secret status in an bid to increase membership. The desire to disclose the existence of the club and assimilate others happened to coincide with the invention of the modern style darts board (with the 20 at the top) by Lancashire carpenter Brian Gamlin. Darts was a popular working class sport played widely in the North of England and as the darts 'arrow' was reminiscent of the arrows of Hood, The Merry Men momentously formed Oxford University Darts Club.
Beginning concurrently with the inaurguration of The Merry Men, the Varsity Match was originally a drinking contest between The Merry Men and their Cambridge equivalents. When the society became OUDC a darts match was appended to the annual event, with the sport eventually eclipsing all other aspects of the meeting. The two University sides play for the prestigious Gamlin Shield, named in honour of the creator of the modern board. Although a fire in the house of the then Secretary destroyed the records of the early matches, it is well known that the current score between Oxford and Cambridge is 99 - 24 in Oxford's favour, with one controversial draw. This occurred, infamously, in the year of 1949 when a dart struck the scorer, John Morse (University College, Oxford), in the face, resulting in a mass brawl and forcing the match to be abandoned. Oxford have dominated the Varsity Match in recent years, winning the last 5 competitions.
A low point of the contest was in 2005 when the event, which was then televised on the BBC, caused embarrassment for both OUDC and CUDS when one leg lasted for over half an hour, an event immortalised in a YouTube video watched by over 16,000 people. The leg was played out by Simon Leaf and Mark Carpenter.
Darts at Oxford saw a record number of participants in 2011. The Inter-Colligiate tournament is at the heart of OUDC with the league running over both Michaelmas and Hilary and the traditional Cuppers taking place in Trinity term. Darts at Oxford has been dominated by a number of colleges with St John's, Christ Church and Lincoln normally represented in the Premier Division and picking up a number of titles between them. In the last 10 years Exeter College has dominated college darts winning the League or Cuppers in 8 of the last 10 years. The 2011 league title was won by Worcester College, in their inaugural season in the Premier Division, But 2014 appears to be the most anticipated season on record, with whispers that little know Keble have put together a serious group of dartists, including a mysterious dark horse, to attack Cuppers in Trinity
- "Oxford University Darts Club - Home". Oudc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- Sood, Pranav. "Bullseye! | The Tab Cambridge". Cambridgetab.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "VARSITY DARTS MATCH '05-Why Uni Darts isn't on TV anymore..!". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-02.