Pub banned from darts league after oche complaint
A BLANDFORD pub has been banned from its local darts league because the position of its board, used by generations of players, has been ruled unfit for purpose.
The oche at the Stour Inn is located right in front of the entrance to the gents toilets, so players have to stand in the doorway.
The low roof also results in darts from some players hitting the ceiling and failing to reach the board.
Licensee Lance Ferguson said: "It's been that way for years, but there have always been Stour teams in the league in the past, and darts night is a fun evening. But we have been told that our teams will no longer be able to play."
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He said there had been extensive discussions with the league, in which more than 20 teams play every Wednesday during the season.
But the installation of an alternative board in the bar area also proved unacceptable, and moving it into the restaurant would mean a loss of table covers.
"It comes very hard on top of the smoking ban and other issues affecting the licensing trade," said Mr Ferguson.
League secretary Kevin Milne said: "The position of the board close to the toilets was less of an issue in the past, when there were fewer ladies in the league. But the low ceiling also meant that some good players had to be dropped and replaced by reserves which led to an uncompetitive league.
"It may have been acceptable many years ago, but venues have evolved over time and this board unfortunately has not."
He said there had been many unofficial complaints in the past, but this year it was made official, and the decision to exclude the Stour teams was put into effect when Mr Ferguson refused to move the board into the restaurant.
"It truly saddens me that a compromise hasn't been reached between the Blandford Darts League and the Stour, but the opinion of the majority of the committee was that a Stour team could not be accepted if the board was not moved," Mr Milne added.
"We would be more than happy for the Stour to enter teams into the Blandford league, but the oche and board have to be of a standard that allows fair play to all visiting teams.
"Moving the board to what always appears on match days to be a vacant area doesn't seem entirely unreasonable, particularly when you consider the income from two darts teams consuming large amounts of beer within those three hours a week."