Dart leagues in London are split into those played by teams, and those for individuals.
Although the numbers of teams involved in leagues has dropped considerably in recent years, all is not lost, and team leagues continue aplenty, albeit in smaller numbers than previously. Individual leagues are increasingly popular and seemingly very healthy. Competitive darts was created as a team game, however, and each league remains unique, with their own formats, quirks and traditions. If nothing else, the night should end with somebody presenting you with a plate of orange food.
Team leagues are typically split into Winter (September to May) and Summer. The standard is hugely variable, and it can be difficult to join a team or a league other than at the beginning of the season.
Individual leagues cater for every standard, including recentlhy absolute beginniners. Typically you arrange matches within an agreed timeframe, but with flexibility on dates and venues.
There are two main individual leagues in central London, both of which are a great way of playing regular proper darts against opponents of similar standard.
One is run under the auspices of the City of London Darts Association (COLDA), and is a fun league of more than 250 players (including me) in divisions of all levels from absolute beginner to county. All games are played around the City, it is fantastically run and generouly fabulous, even if I seem to be on the verge of relegation each season. COLDA’s season 28 started in January 2024, season 29 starts in April 2024; see more information on the COLDA website.
The other – the IDL – runs concurrently in different areas, with central London represented by Southark, specifically Spots & Stripes.
- The City Banks and Financial Institutions Darts league, more commonly known as the Banks League is going strong in 2024
- The Central London darts league (Thursdays) currently has teams playing out of venues in SE1, SW1, WC1, E1 and EC1, so it pretty much does what is says on the tin, covering much of central London.
- The Clerkenwell and District Winter darts league (Mondays) runs in the winter in and around Clerkenwell, obviously.
- Also on a Monday is the SKADL league, which once had something to do students and South Kensington, but now seems to be played in central London pubs (including a couple of teams based at the Old China Hand).
- The Smithfield darts league takes place in and around the City, mainly in EC postcodes.
- The Association of Provincial Football Supporters’ Clubs in London has a particularly sociable darts league, and must be the only sporting competition in which Scunthorpe v Rotherham is a top flight fixture.
- The Trafalgar dart league (Wednesdays), running since the 1940s, took its name from Trafalgar Square, as all the teams used to be based nearby. These days things have moved East a little.
- The London Insurance Office league (LIODA) includes teams with names as varied as Off our Ed, Aviva and the Dart Knights. It is a pairs league running from October to March, and teams need some link to working in Insurance or Finance. The most recent season saw an increase in the number of teams, bucking the trends of recent years.
- The Civil Service darts league, doesn’t seem to have a website, is more commonly known as the Tuesday early league, and seems to be fully operational
- From May to September, you could try the City & Holborn summer darts league.
- And finally, the Chiswick & Acton darts league is where you will find The Exiles on a Wednesday night, propping up the league and the bar, but the league doesn’t have a website.