READ AN EXTRACT FROM WAYNE MARDLE’S GUIDE TO LIFE BOTH ON AND OFF THE OCHE

Humanity has come a long way in the 500,000 years since Neanderthal man first started chucking spears around. Or has it? In his blisteringly funny new book, former professional player Wayne Mardle, whose crowd-pleasing antics were even more lively off stage than they were on, blows the lid off one of the UK’s biggest televised…

Humanity has come a long way in the 500,000 years since Neanderthal man first started chucking spears around. Or has it? In his blisteringly funny new book, former professional player Wayne Mardle, whose crowd-pleasing antics were even more lively off stage than they were on, blows the lid off one of the UK’s biggest televised sports.

If you want to be taken seriously as a darts player, or even if you want the sort of career I had, you will be needing to sort yourself out with a nickname.

Nicknames find their way into most sports but it’s darts in which these names really do come to define your entire life, and it’s darts in which you’ll find grown men calling themselves things like The Spanish Assassin, Hotdog, Mr Muscle, The Womble, and The Ferret. (I made Mr Muscle up of course – Mr Muscle is a fair-to-middling brand of oven cleaner and sink unblocker, although the fact that it fits right in with the real ones says all you need to know about darting nicknames.)

Nicknames in darts have been around since the 1970s, and it’s no coincidence that this was also the period in which darts became a big thing on TV. In the intervening years some nicknames have aged better than others – Eric Bristow was one of the first with The Crafty Cockney, a true classic of the genre, but then there’s my good mate and favourite person in the world Bobby George, well known on the scene for his spangly stage attire, who back in the day decided to go with the name Mr Glitter. In recent years it’s become very clear that the Glitter gang is one you most definitely do not wanna be in, so it’s probably best all round that Bobby later chose to go by The King of Bling.

Choosing an appropriate nom de fléchettes is an art form in its own right. Many nicknames, like The Crafty Cockney, make perfect sense due to a combination of personality and geography, although it’s less well known that Bristow’s name actually came from the fact that he used to visit a pub called the Crafty Cockney in LA. People identified that he was crafty and a cockney, and you might argue he was both, but the Crafty Cockney was simply where he drank and played darts when Stateside.

Some nicknames are location based, some are a pun on the player’s name, some rhyme, some simply look funny. An amount of alliteration’s always an advantage, also. Irony’s a good bet, too – Jarkko Komula is nicknamed Smiley on account of the fact that he spends most of the time with a face like a slapped derrière on a wet Wednesday.

My first nickname was Mouth of the South, which worked on a few levels: I was from the south of England, it rhymed, and I had – and still have – a fully functioning oral cavity. But after I started wearing Hawaiian shirts and chose the Hawaii Five-O theme as my walk-on music, Bobby George cornered me.

‘So,’ he said, ‘you’ve got a Hawaiian shirt, you’ve got the Hawaii Five-O theme tune, and darts legs start with a score of 501. Why don’t you call yourself Hawaii 501?’

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I said.

‘That’s absolutely genius,’ I thought.

 

An extract from Slinging Arrows: How (not) to be a professional darts player by Wayne Mardle

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