In January 2015 I went to work in Verbier, Switzerland as a Ski Instructor, following in the footsteps of my brother Alex, and my nephew, Reece. It was here I was introduced to a weekly darts tournament held at the Pub Mont Fort. The format is unique to Verbier, the game they play is similar to cricket, with a few slight variations. You must hit 20 three times, then do the same on 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, and finally 3 points on bull (1pt for green, 2pts for red). Trebles count as 3, doubles as 2. There is one other special rule, you can hit a single, double & treble on any number and win the game outright. However, after hitting the first 2 darts you must call ‘Shanghai’ when going for the 3rd. If you miss, you lose what you hit from the first 2 darts. I hope that makes sense!
The tournament takes place every Monday, run by Olly ‘machine-gun’ Murch & Harry ‘steelo’ Steel. Its always pairs, 10chf (£8) entry per team, with the winning team awarded all the entry fees as prize money. The first few times I played, I was only winning 1 or 2 matches, but I really got the buzz for darts! Olly & Harry did a really good job running the darts, but my tournament brain was always fizzing around with ideas of how I could help improve the competition. During my second season, I begin recording the results every week, and created a ranking system for all the players (on a spreadsheet of course). One week, I got the chance to run the tournament with Reece, as Olly & Harry were away. I loved it, again me in my element.
At the start of my third winter season (2016/17), Olly & Harry ran the first darts tournament as normal, but then shortly after, they announced on the darts Facebook page that they would be stepping down from running it altogether. I could totally understand where they were coming from, I know how hard it can be to organise these things! After seeing their post, I immediately phoned Reece and said we should take it over from them. Reece, (on my wavelength as always), was one step ahead of me, and had already posted back saying we’d love to take over the running of the tournament. Olly & Harry did such a great job before, that I didn’t see the need for wholesale changes, people already loved the tournament, so I kept it pretty much the same, with the only slight change being the number of teams allowed to enter. Olly & Harry kept it at a maximum of 16, but there were regularly more teams than that signed up wanting to play. So I worked out we could accommodate 24 teams, based on each team getting a minimum of 4 matches each. I thought this was a really positive move as it meant we could get even more people involved, and of course it was great business for the Pub as it generated more revenue. A few weeks in, I made a second change. We kept 20chf aside form the prize winners pot to be awarded to any player that hit a ‘Shanghai’ on the night. If no one hit one, the 20chf rolls over to the following week. The record rollover amount so far has been 80chf! After each tournament, I post all the results on our darts Facebook page, and update the rankings so players can see how they are doing. People regularly chase me if I'm late updating the rankings, so i think its gone down well!
I also had an idea that we could do a big end of season darts finale and seedings would depend on the rankings at the end of season. Similar to golf’s ‘Race to Dubai’ or tennis’s ‘ATP Race’. We named it the ‘Verbier Darts Singles Championships’. Two events, men’s & women’s singles and we made the draw live on Facebook via webcam. Alfie & co famously interrupted us live on air, dressed with balaclavas on, as if they breaking in, it was hilariously brilliant. The first year I ran the event, there were 48 men and 16 women entered. Officially the biggest sport tournament I’ve ever run. I was back in the flow, and able to compete in the tournament also. I played unbelievable that first year, I beat the best player in Verbier in the semis (Sam, hes unbelievable at darts), but unfortunately lost the final to my friend Myles. I’d found a new love for a sport, darts became very special to me, I spent hours on the practice board and its right up there now in my top 3 favourite sports, behind football and tennis.
I spent the summer of 2017 in Verbier working as a tennis coach. Tennis is very popular summer sport in Verbier and of course I saw this an opportunity to run my first tennis tournament outside of England. I named it ‘The Verbier Summer Open’ and we had 20 singles entries and 8 doubles teams. During that summer I also continued to run the darts tournament on a Monday at PMF. We trialled the 501 format, but it wasn’t a great success, so we stuck with ‘Shanghai’, it’s a much simpler game to play and understand, especially for beginners, but it wouldn’t work as a professional event, your Michael Van Gerwens would just be hitting shanghais for fun, game over.
I’d never been to see the darts live before, and with so many of us playing and enjoying the game, I organised a trip to Dublin to see the World Grand Prix. Only 6 of us ended up going in the end, but it was such a good trip, I just wish I remembered it all.
That’s all my background over with, EJMSL was inbound.
After the summer of 2017, I booked a holiday to South Africa to visit my girlfriend Abi and her family. This is where EJMSL was born. Abi’s family lived just outside Durban in a stunning house, built mostly by her dad, John. It has an infinity swimming pool and sits upon a hilltop; the scenery is breath-taking.
The idea of EJMSL resulted from having a serious amount of thinking time and being in such a beautiful place. I’d always enjoyed playing such a different variety of sports and would have loved an event, league or tournament, anything where I could compete in multiple sports. Do you remember that TV show ‘Superstars’ from the early 2000s or ‘Eternal Glory’ a few years back? Both programmes featured athletes from different sports, competing in different events against each other, I loved these shows, they had my name written all over them. I did my research to see if I could find anything online that offered this. I found a company in London called ‘Go Mammoth’, but the sports were all team sports and played at one location. So, I created EJMSL, a completely unique idea, I would offer 9 different individual sports and participants would need to enter 3 different sports to be included in the multi-league. Entrants can also play in just one sport league if they wish. But it was the Multi-sports league that really excited me. The idea of EJMSL is simple once you understand how it works. Once you fill out the form on our website, we send you an email with all the information about your league, including a list of opponents in your league, plus their email addresses & phone numbers. You then contact your opponents and arrange a match with them at ANY time and at ANY venue that suits you both, so its very flexible. Brilliant don’t you think? Our 9 individual sports are badminton, bowls, darts, golf, pool, snooker, squash, table tennis & tennis. (We later dropped bowls).
It also helps to have such a supportive girlfriend, Abi has always done that, she is my rock. I also wouldn’t have been able to make EJMSL as good as it is without her skills. Abi is currently in the middle of studying for a graphic design degree and the input she has had into EJMSL has been invaluable. She designed our main official logo, and designs all our adverts that are published in magazines/posters/flyers etc.
Originally the idea was to give myself a good 8/9 months preparation before opening our first location in Medway, Kent. However, it dawned on me how I could use Verbier as a test, after all, thinking about it, the darts league alone could be huge. I set to work straight away. After researching what leagues I could offer in Verbier, we settled on darts, pool, squash & tennis. Verbier winter 2017/18 was our first league location, and was a roaring success in my eyes. By the end of the season, a total of 6 players competed in our pool league, 7 for tennis, 12 for squash and our biggest success was of course darts; 31. Reece of course beat me to the title of becoming the first EJ Multi-Sports League Champion.
The following summer we opened our first leagues in Kent, and my nephew Senna was a great help here, he introduced the league to many people, and one of those, Shiel Dadrah became our first UK champion.
I hope you enjoyed the story; I want to thank everyone who has supported EJMSL so far, either in a big way or a small way, every little helps. If you want to help us grow, you can in so many ways! Listed below are all ways you can help us, some of them take literally one second. Or how about joining the journey with us by signing up to a league?
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Thank you again, its been a pleasure to write, and if anyone ever needs my help for any reason, don't feel afraid to get in touch.