Sad To See You Leaving 2012: Sid Wadell

by George_East on January 21, 2013

Sid Waddell

This is a post by George East which was originally posted on 31 December 2012 but which was lost from the site during our recent difficulties.  It is not clear whether the post is complete and unfortunately all comments on the post and any graphics originally posted have been lost.

When I was growing up, darts and snooker were king. It felt like they were on the telly all the time. The top darts and snooker players were almost treated as equivalent to the top footballers of the time, in terms of their celebrity status.  It seems absurd now for what are fundamentally a couple of British pub games.

The tv coverage of the two sports was though very different. In snooker the commentators would whisper as if the players could hear them (even though they were in a sound proof broadcasting booth).  It added to the stately worshipful nature of the game – something I think which itself added to the appeal of the bad boy players like the late Alex Higgins and Jimmy White.

The darts, on the other hand. The darts was always about showmanship.  And it was indelibly linked as a telly entertainment with its masterful commentator, Sid Waddell, who would stand next to the dart board while commentating.  He is perhaps the only sports commentator ever to be as big as the sport he was covering. It helped of course that he was commentating in the era with big characters like Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson. An era when you could still drink and smoke at the oche.

Despite his broad Geordie accent and working class affectations, Waddell was a Cambridge history graduate and former academic.  He wrote children’s books, was a television producer and even did a spot of television acting. His enthusiasm for the arrows made the sport utterly infectious. He was described by Dave Clark, who worked with him in these terms: ˜he had child-like exuberance, he’d be bouncing round like a young puppy in the commentary box, and mix that with the intellect of Einstein’.

And it was his razor-sharp intelligence and quick wit though which made his name and made darts such a compelling watch for my generation.  The man had the greatest one-liners in the history of sports commentary.  I can do little more than list some of his best:

1. When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer….. Bristow’s only 27.

 2. That was like throwing three pickled onions into a thimble

3. He’s about as predictable as a wasp on speed

4. Look at the man go, it’s like trying to stop a waterbuffalo with a pea-shooter

5. The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in with a portion of chips, you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them

6. Big Cliff Lazarenko’s idea of exercise is sitting in a room with the windows open taking the lid off something cool and fizzy.

7. It’s like trying to pin down a kangaroo on a trampoline

 8. Well as giraffes say, you don’t get no leaves unless you stick your neck out

9. He looks about as happy as a penguin in a microwave.

10.He is as slick as minestrone soup

11. This lad has more checkouts than Tescos.

12. Even Hypotenuse would have trouble working out these angles

13. Darts players are probably a lot fitter than most footballers in overall body strength.

14. Phil Taylor’s got the consistency of a planet … and he’s in a darts orbit!

 15. “That’s the closest thing you’ll see to a public execution this side of Saudi Arabia’

And my personal favourite: ‘If we’d had Phil Taylor at Hastings against the Normans, they’d have gone home.”

RIP Sid Waddell

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Charlie_East_West January 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

The man was a working class poet genius.


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