Saturday, 29 February 2020


The Coroglen Darts Club - an important part of a small community

By Jack Biddle

If walls could talk, The Coroglen Tavern would have a number of interesting stories to tell.  More than a few of those tales would centre on the traditional pub game of darts. The well-known landmark tavern, situated on the corner of State Highway 25 and the Tapu-Coroglen Road, is the home of the Coroglen Darts Club, officially formed on 9 May 1968.

Current tavern owners, Jed and Michelle Harper, are patrons and enthusiastic supporters of the club.   

Prior to 1968, darts were played only periodically at the tavern due mainly to the restrictions on opening hours. Back then, taverns were required to close at 6:00pm Monday to Saturday and were completely closed on Sundays. This was not always the case at The Coroglen Tavern, however. Being an isolated country establishment had its advantages. Reportedly the publicans of the day had no hesitation to occasionally close and lock the doors at the official time of 6:00pm, drawing the curtains tight and allowing business to continue as usual.

In 1967 legislation was introduced that allowed taverns to remain open later, which meant the doors and curtains at the tavern could also stay open a little longer. Those extended hours provided the opportunity for the small community to meet and socialise more openly - and so the Coroglen Darts Club was officially formed the following year. The club’s first chairman was Lionel Oliver and the first Secretary was Zillah Hamilton. The committee was made up of Pat Bigwood, Daine Simpson, Audrey Oliver, Judith Hodge and Trevor (Tad) Barclay. Subs were set at $1 with players asked to pay 10 cents on game night.

During the late 1970s, the club went through one of its worst eras with regard to support and membership. At a meeting on 12 October 1978, it was agreed that the club be abandoned. Thankfully though, within a short space of time a new committee was formed and the club bounced back. They resumed playing darts only a few months later.

In those early years a number of trophies were played for between the Tairua, Tapu, Coromandel, and Coroglen Dart Clubs. Each club had a turn to host a tournament but with the Tairua, Tapu-Coroglen and 309 roads all having has several fords to cross - as well as being entirely gravel - these tournaments were often called off due to slips and flooding.

One trophy that has lasted the distance is the Gumtown Shield. Made of kauri, the shield was first played for in 1977 at the Coroglen Hall. In 2002 the open tournament was relocated to The Coroglen Tavern. 

The shield again goes on the line on Sunday 8 July and keeping with a long-held tradition, a hangi lunch will be provided by the club members. The hangi pit, which for many years was overseen by Tad Barclay, is dug on the tavern grounds.

Club president, Bill Panckhurst, says this year’s tournament will comprise of 16 teams of four players per team and already is a sell-out. “It’s a popular event with teams made up mainly from the local area,” he says. “Plus this year we have a team coming over from Waiheke Island. In all, there are nine rounds played with the first dart thrown at 10:00am and the last around 4:00pm, so it’s a big day.

“The Coroglen Tavern is open for business as usual during the tournament, so spectators are welcome to pop in and soak up the atmosphere.”     

The Coroglen Darts Club itself has very few hard and fast rules, but the ones they do have all centre around members being treated as equals and having a good time. The philosophy of the club from day one was to always cater for the weakest player and it appears nothing has changed in that regard, with teams randomly drawn from a hat on club nights. Plus it’s affordable to join with club fees set at $20 per year and members paying $2 to play on club nights. Non-members and visitors are welcome and pay $4 to play.

Jed and Michelle also run a shuttle to Whitianga and back on club nights on Thursdays, to pick up and drop off those who want to spread their time between the dart board and the bar. 

“The Coroglen Darts Club has seen many social changes over the years, but the club has always retained its soul and still provides a place for locals to enjoy each other’s company and to throw a dart just like it was back in the day, 50 years ago.,” says Bill. “The game of darts and the rich history of the Coroglen area go very much hand-in-hand and long may it continue.”

To find out more about the Coroglen Darts club, phone Bill on (027) 668 4268 or club secretary, Kirsty Picard on (021) 405 222. The club, which has a current membership base of just over 40, welcomes new members.


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