The Malta Darts Association was founded on 14th March 1962 with the first ever president Mr. Benny Pace leading the association for a staggering 35 years, with a 2 year break between 1978-1979. A magazine carrying the name “Morning Star” used to be published by Mr. Pace himself which at the time was also the name the association carried which by time changed to Malta Darts Association as its known today.
The first ever committee was composed of Mr. Benny Pace as President, Mr. Louis Florian as General Secretary, Mr. Peter Tonna as Treasurer and Mr. David Manduca & the Bongailas brothers as committee members.
We asked current Vice-President and long time committee member, Mr. Tony Demanuele a couple of questions regarding the rich history of the association …
Q: When was the first playing experience abroad for Maltese players? And who took part?
The first experience was at the World Cup in 1976 which took place in London, England. This event which was organised by Unicorn saw the Maltese contingent finishing in fifth place. Representing Malta were Grezzju Scicluna, Francis Cikku Mifsud, George Borg and Felix Buhagiar. Scicluna and Mifsud made it all the way to the quarter final where they were eventually eliminated by Canada 3-2 with Borg and Buhagiar finishing in seventh place. A year later the World Darts Federation was formed and the first ever “official” World Cup was held at Wembley, England.
Q: In 1990 the WDF European Cup was held in Malta. What memories do you have of this event?
What an event it was! It was held at the Corradino Sports Pavillion in Cospicua with various top players gracing us with their presence. Our national team was composed of Vincent Busuttil (Il-Ħassu), Charles Ghiller, Godfrey Abela and myself with reserve players Joe Zammit and Mario Tonna. In the team event, Malta was eliminated by the Republic of Ireland 9-6 in a match we lead 6-3. In the pairs events, a match that stood out for me was when Maltese pair Busuttil/Ghiller faced two of the all time best, Eric Bristow and John Lowe. The Maltese players performed exceptionally well on the day and managed to force a decider with a couple of darts missed at the double to which the English pair took advantage off to win the tie 4-3. Abela and I were drawn against possibly the best player of all time, Phil Taylor and his partner Bob Anderson. A 4-0 win for the English pair with one of the legs won in 10 darts (Taylor 180, Anderson 180, Taylor 109 to leave 32). England on this occasion dominated as they completed a clean sweep with all 3-titles won by them (Team, Pairs and Singles) with the singles title going to Mr. Phil Taylor who during these championship hit a staggering 57, 180s !!!
Q: How and who created the Malta International Open?
This was created back in the 70s as a number of Maltese players used to travel to England to play various darts competitions with great performances and results achieved and on one particular occasion a gentleman by the name of Mr. Alan Fraskia spotted their talent and got in touch with the Maltese committee at the time to organise an international event here in Malta with the agreement that he would bring various British players with him to this event. Mr. Fraskia himself was the main person responsible for the organisation of this competition as well. At the time this event did not carry ranking points as that was introduced in 1986.
Q: What memorable moments do you cherries and are still talked about by the darts enthusiasts here in Malta?
Wow, so many moments but for me the best memories are when top players used to come to Malta to player against local players. The three names that stand out for me were Leyton Rees, Jocky Wilson and Cliff Lazarenko. To point out as well that all three were defeated by local players … Rees by Frankie Bonnici, Wilson by Charles Ghiller and Lazarenko by yours truly.
Q: How were the national teams performances in the past during WDF World Cup / European Cup and Mediterranean Cup?
During all editions of the Med Cup the Maltese team performed well with the best moment coming in 2003 when the team was crowned champions in Cyprus.Vincent Busuttil and Mario Camilleri won the pairs competition with the later also reaching the final in the singles event. Three medals (2 silver and 1 bronze) during the 2017 edition in France is also quite a feat for our tiny island.
At the European Cup the best performance came in 2016 which was held in Egmond Aan Zee, Holland which saw the Maltese team topping their group with wins over Luxembourg, Iceland and Germany. At the last 16 stage a brave performance by the Maltese team was not enough to defeat a strong Scottish team. In the singles event, Norbert Attard progressed all the way to the semi-final eliminating 2015 World Champion, Scott Mitchell and number 1 ranked WDF player, Darius Labanauskas along the way to claim bronze medal as he was defeated by home favourite and gold medal winner Richard Veenstra.
At the World Cup unfortunately not to many moments to share due to the lack of participation in this event, mainly because of the costs attached especially when the competition is held outside of Europe.
Q: Anything else that you would like to mention?
Yes, a mention has to certainly go to Vincent Busuttil who not a lot of people know that he held the 24th spot in the World Darts Rankings in 1994.
President’s at the Malta Darts Association:
1962 – 1978 – Mr. Benny Pace
1978 – 1979 – Mr. Joseph Pace
1979 – 1993 – Mr. Benny Pace
1993 – 1998 – Mr. Tony Lia
1998 – 2017 – Mr. Edward Paul Bonnici
Some of the clubs taking part in the national competitions back in the 60s:
Tony’s Bar (Msida), Dusfin Bar (Pawla), Uncle Sam (Pawla), Pompeye Arms, Ritz Bar D.C. (Gzira), Jonnie’s Bar (Birzebbugia), City of London (St Julians), Red Lion (Pawla), Z.P.C.C. (Zabbar), Vince Bar (Gzira), Vittoriosa Bar (Senglea), Gigi D.C. (St Julians), Brittania Bar (Gzira), Four Season’s Bar (Birkirkara), Reno’s Bar and more …
Notable players taking part in the national competitions back in the 60s:
Grezzju Scicluna, Cikku Mifsud, Felix Buhagiar, George Borg, Paul Galea, Lorry Galea, George Formosa, Joe Pace, Joseph Grima, John Wright, Brian O’Neil, Eric Day, Mick McKenzie, William Lang and more …
|YEAR||NATIONAL LEAGUE||4 A-SIDE CUP||5 A-SIDE CUP||SUPER CUP||MALTA DOUBLES||NATIONAL SINGLES CHAMPION||OVERALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR|
|1962||Vittoriosa Bar||n/a||n/a||n/a||David Fenech/Alfred Fenech||George Formosa||n/a|
|1963||Tony`s Bar (Msida)||n/a||Tony`s Bar B (Msida)||n/a||Joe Borg/Joseph Sciberras||John Wright||n/a|
|1964||Vince Bar (Gzira)||n/a||Dusfin Bar A (Paola)||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|1964/65||Uncle Sam Bar (Paola)||n/a||Dusfin Bar B (Paola)||n/a||Andre Diacono/Victor Libreri||Brian O’Neill||n/a|
|1965/66||Uncle Sam Bar (Paola)||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|1966/67||Uncle Sam Bar (Paola)||n/a||Uncle Sam Bar (Paola)||n/a||Joe Pace/Victor Libreri||Joe Pace||n/a|
|1967/68||Brittania DC (Gzira)||n/a||Dusfin Bar A (Paola)||n/a||Louis Florian/Emm Dimech||Joe Grima||n/a|
|1968/69||Gigi`s DC (St Julians)||n/a||Dusfin Bar B (Paola)||n/a||Reggie Widdich/Ralph Grech||Mick McKenzie||n/a|
|1969/70||Ritz Bar (Gzira)||n/a||Ritz Bar (Gzira)||n/a||Eric Day/John Moncur||Eric Day||n/a|
|1970/71||Ritz Bar (Gzira)||n/a||Johnnie`s Bar (BBugia)||n/a||Peter Galea/Paul Galea||n/a|
|1972/73||Four Seasons Bar (B`Kara)||n/a||City of London Bar B (St Julians)||n/a||Vitor Steele/Ron Willmott||William Laing||n/a|
|1973/74||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Z.P.C.C. A (Zabbar)||n/a||Michael Carr/Paul Galea||Francis Mifsud||n/a|
|1974/75||Z.P.C.C. A (Zabbar)||n/a||Red Lion A (Zabbar)||n/a||Ron Hindle/Lorry Galea||Frank Bonnici||n/a|
|1975/76||Zejtun Corinthians FC||n/a||Red Lion A (Zabbar)||n/a||Charles Bugeja/Saviour Ciantar||Francis Mifsud||Unknown|
|1976/77||City of London Bar (St Julians)||n/a||Z.P.C.C. A (Zabbar)||n/a||Tony Schembri/Charles Abela||Grezzju Sciciluna||Unknown|
|1977/78||Victoria United (Hamrun)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Tony Schembri/Charles Abela||Reno Mannara||Lorry Galea|
|1978/79||Victoria United (Hamrun)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||n/a||n/a||David Manduca|
|1979/80||Victoria United (Hamrun)||n/a||Victoria United B (Hamrun)||n/a||John Spiteri/Emm Gafa||John Magro||Domenic Cachia|
|1980/81||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Tony Borg/Joe Calleja||Domenic Cachia||Unknown|
|1981/82||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||San Gaetano DC (Hamrun)||n/a||Lorry Galea/Sylvester Zammit||Domenic Cachia||Joseph Darmanin|
|1982/83||San Gaetano DC (Hamrun)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Reno Manara/Tony Demanuele||Tony Gennovese||Domenic Cachia|
|1983/84||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Alfred Desira/Frank Bonnici||Stephen Caruana||Tony Genovese|
|1984/85||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Golden Harvest Satnas (Hamrun)||n/a||Charles Meilaq/Mark Azzopardi||Domenic Cachia||Unknown|
|1985/86||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Charles Ghiller/Lorry Galea||Charles Ghiller||Lorry Galea|
|1986/87||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Vincent Busuttil/Paul Frendo||Charles Ghiller||Charles Ghiller|
|1987/88||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||Vincent Busuttil/Tony Genovese||Vincent Busuttil||Unknown|
|1988/89||Black Cat (Senglea)||n/a||San Gaetano DC (Hamrun)||n/a||Godfrey Abela/Alfred Desira||Joe Tagliaferro||Unknown|
|1989/90||Ta` Paris SC (B`Kara)||n/a||Waterline (Marsaskala)||n/a||Joe Zammit/Tony Demanuele||Vincent Busuttil||Domenic Cachia|
|1990/91||Waterline (Marsaskala)||n/a||Waterline (Marsaskala)||n/a||Vincent Busuttil/Charles Ghiller||Vincent Busuttil||Unknown|
|1991/92||Beland BC (Zejtun)||n/a||Beland BC (Zejtun)||n/a||Vincent Busuttil/Joe Mallia||Vincent Busuttil||Vincent Busuttil|
|1992/93||Beland BC (Zejtun)||n/a||Southern Cross (Zabbar)||n/a||Noel Ebejer/Joe Tagliaferro||Vincent Busuttil||Godfrey Abela|
|1993/94||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||n/a||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||n/a||Vincent Busuttil/Charles Ghiller||Vincent Busuttil||Unknown|
|1994/95||Beland BC (Zejtun)||n/a||Jesmond SC A (Hamrun)||n/a||Godfrey Abela/Noel Ebejer||Godwin Cesario||Vincent Busuttil|
|1995/96||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||n/a||Jesmond SC A (Hamrun)||n/a||Emm Ciantar/Alfred Desira||Vincent Busuttil||Godfrey Abela|
|1996/97||Beland BC (Zejtun)||n/a||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||Godfrey Abela||Godfrey Abela/Noel Ebejer||Gordon Stanmore||Vincent Busuttil|
|1997/98||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||n/a||Ta` Giorni (St Julians)||Vincent Busuttil||Gordon Stanmore/John Demicoli||Vincent Busuttil||Godfrey Abela|
|1998/99||Beland BC (Zejtun)||n/a||Beland BC (Zejtun)||Emm Ciantar||Tony Demanuele/John Demicoli||Joe Caruana||Vincent Busuttil|
|1999/00||Ta` Giorni (St Julians)||n/a||Beland BC A (Zejtun)||Joe Caruana||Julian Bonello/Paul Aquilina||Unknown||Godfrey Abela|
|2000/01||Beland BC (Zejtun)||n/a||PO`s Bar B (Gudja)||Paul Aquilina||Emm Ciantar/Alfred Desira||Vincent Busuttil||Joe Caruana|
|2001/02||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||Beland BC A (Zejtun)||Paul Aquilina||Vincent Busuttil/Charles Ghiller||Joe Caruana||Joe Caruana|
|2002/03||Pawla Wolves SC||Mqabba Lily BC||Pawla Wolves SC||Joe Caruana||Vincent Busuttil/Charles Ghiller||Vincent Busuttil||Joe Caruana|
|2003/04||Mqabba Lily BC||Mqabba Lily BC||Pawla Wolves SC||Charles Ghiller||Vincent Busuttil/Charles Ghiller||Joe Caruana||Joe Caruana|
|2004/05||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||Mqabba Lily BC A||Mqabba Lily BC||Vincent Busuttil||Vincent Busuttil/Charles Ghiller||Mario Camilleri||Joe Caruana|
|2005/06||Pawla Wolves SC||Pawla Wolves SC||Pawla Wolves SC||Mario Camilleri||Godfrey Abela/Gordon Stanmore||Alfred Desira||Charles Ghiller|
|2006/07||Pawla Wolves SC||Pawla Wolves SC||Zabbar Southcliff||Godwin Cesario||Mario Camilleri/Julian Bonello||Vincent Busuttil||Gordon Stanmore|
|2007/08||Pawla Wolves SC||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||John Ciantar||Chris Cohen/George Mizzi||Vincent Busuttil||Alfred Desira|
|2008/09||Pawla Wolves SC||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||Pawla Wolves SC||Charles Ghiller||Vincent Busuttil/Gordon Stanmore||John Ciantar||Godfrey Abela|
|2009/10||Pawla Wolves SC||Jesmond SC (Hamrun)||Mosta Shanghai||Mario Camilleri||Godfrey Abela/ John Ciantar||Godfrey Abela||Gordon Stanmore|
|2010/11||Floriana Ajax||Pawla Wolves SC||Floriana Ajax||John Ciantar||Darren Vassallo/Charles Attard||Chris Cohen||Vincent Busuttil|
|2011/12||Marsa St Michaels||Floriana Ajax||Floriana Ajax||John Ciantar||Albert Scerri/Stephen Grima||Godfrey Abela||John Ciantar|
|2012/13||Pawla Wolves SC||Marsa St. Michaels||Floriana Ajax||Norbert Attard||Gordon Stanmore/John Ciantar||Gordon Stanmore||Norbert Attard|
|2013/14||Floriana Ajax||Marsa St. Michaels||Floriana Ajax||Albert Scerri||Albert Scerri/Mario Camilleri||Norbert Attard||Norbert Attard|
|2014/15||Floriana Ajax||Kalkara St Joseph||Kalkara St Joseph||Kevin Spiteri||Albert Scerri/Kevin Spiteri||Andy Keen||Albert Scerri|
|2015/16||Kalkara St Joseph||Marsa St. Michaels||Marsa St. Michaels||Albert Scerri||Norbert Attard/David Attard||Norbert Attard||Norbert Attard|
|2016/17||Kalkara St Joseph||Floriana Ajax||Floriana Ajax||Albert Scerri||Norbert Attard/David Attard||Norbert Attard||Albert Scerri|