If anyone is considering entering the world of professional darts then I beg you to read Wayne’s book before you give the idea another thought. One thing you learn from Hawaii 501 is that life is tough; very tough indeed.
Wayne’s book takes the reader – in an easy to follow diary format – on an uneasy and unsettling trip through his darting year that was 2005. The year is disappointing in terms of major titles (Wayne didn’t win any) but, surprisingly, the book isn’t about winning, even if that was the hope or intention when the book was conceived. The book is about the man who is Wayne Mardle.
It’s about Wayne making a living on the circuit. It is a very honest and upfront record delivered by the popular Essex darter; a story in which (if I hadn’t already known the ending) I would have expected Wayne to have ‘downed darts’ at any moment and gone back to his life in the city. Certainly the game in November 2005 against Tony Smith of Hertfordshire when Wayne walked out of the match was a turning point. Wayne could have ended his career then, but he didn’t, he held on and I am certain that he will eventually reap the rewards of that decision. His wife Donna is clearly a stabilising force. There’s real love and a real partnership there and maybe that’s what’s held Wayne on track since he became a professional.
But he doesn’t mind coming second as long as he plays well. What’s that all about? Wayne – like everyone else – hates losing. In this sense Wayne is a man of contradictions. In addition he wants to please his adoring fans; to be a ‘showman’ (as Phil Taylor describes him in his Foreword to the book) to be loved yet he becomes irritated with himself when his playing to the crowd affects his own game. Has he got his priorities wrong? Who does any dart player ultimately do it for, the fans or himself?
Wayne’s supplementary loves are McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried (at any time of the day or night), greyhounds, vodka and orange cordial and on-line or ‘live’ poker – Oh yes – and Travel Inns. I may be wrong but at various points in the book I gain the impression that participation in on-line poker is more important to Wayne than honing his skills on the oche. Wayne hates travelling, yet his self-determination sees him journeying thousands of miles during the year in search of ranking points and in pursuit of lucrative exhibitions. He also seems to intensely dislike the Darts Regulation Authority.
What does come over strongly for me in this book is that Wayne knows he has the talent and the skills to become a world champion. (Let’s face it; he’s come close a few times!) I believe him – and importantly Donna does too – but whether he will actually achieve this ambition since he decided to ‘virtually abandon all practice…only throwing when I felt like it’ only time will tell. Keep fit? Yes, you need to keep fit, so why’s the exercise bike gathering dust in the shed? Cut down drinking and late night meals? Of course, but even late in the book, after various attempts to reduce his intake of carbohydrates, Wayne still finds himself in a motorway stop craving a ‘full fry-up’ but, as he says, on that occasion “They won’t do me one in the middle of the night so I have to settle for tomato and basil soup.” (Yes, there’s a shed load of humour in this book too!) He tries every which way to improve his life-style but seems to lose focus. At times the book leaves me with a sense that Wayne knows exactly what he needs to do to achieve his dream of a world crown but is subconsciously determined to deprive himself of the ultimate success, to not do that bit extra that would secure his place in darts history.
That’s the best and often the worst thing about a book in diary format, it is all about the individual and his personal thoughts and views. I sincerely believe that Wayne has been incredibly brave to lay his life so bare and open to the gaze of the general public. Well done.
People who have read my reviews in the past will know that I always welcome new books on darts; always. I particularly welcome Wayne’s book because it is an open and honest account of the trials and tribulations and the high and lows of a man who is determined to succeed in the tough and demanding world of professional darts. It will be enjoyed by all those who read it.
And for those wishing to enter that world after reading Wayne’s book will be doing so with their eyes wide open.
Hawaii 501 – Life as a darts pro is published by Vision Sports Publishing (VSP) on 16th March 2006. It is published in paperback, costs £12.99 and can be ordered through all good bookshops. However, the book can be obtained direct from VSP via their website www.visionsp.co.uk at the special price of £9.99 (plus £1.99 postage and packing).
© 2007 Patrick Chaplin