The Autobiography of The Greatest Ever Ladies’ Dart Player
This week is an exciting time for darts publishing. For the first time ever a female darts champion publishes her life story. Yes, the eagerly awaited autobiography by multi-world champion Trina Gulliver titled Golden Girl – The Autobiography of the Greatest Ever Ladies Darts Player is published on 7th January by John Blake Publishing of London. As I have helped Trina to write her unique book, it would be unfair for me to say any more. Therefore, here are some reviews from other darts aficionados that I am sure will be of interest.
Review by Sid Waddell
One thing stands out in ‘Golden Girl’, Trina Gulliver’s pacy and at times racy life story; the lass hurled herself at a career in darts with a total Olympian ideal. Trina craved the pure glory and the self fulfilment that becoming a champion darter would bring. This attitude is admirable; in my experience the male greats, from Alan Evans down to Phil Taylor, were always carefully watching the cash flow as well as the gong collection. They were as proud as anyone in their achievements, but were helped as television and sponsorship cash came flowing in to bulk up the rewards of the early exhibition circuit and money races.
Trina makes plangent pleas for more money in the ladies’ game but in her heart I reckon she knows the brutal truth; the men are at each other’s throats on the oche day in day out and the standard and entertainment value have gone through the roof. The furnace of ladies’ darts is not hot enough to provide great entertainment. Now if there were 23 more Trinas on the go….
I particularly enjoyed the vivid details of our heroine’s early steps in darts and woodwork. At age two somebody stood her on a stool in her parents’ pub and she let fly at a board. By the age of six she was fascinated by real hammers and nails when other girls were preening Barbies. In her early teens she was making greenhouses and chairs from gash bits of plywood. And what did this practical hand-arm dexterity do? Same as it did for toilet chain handle maker Phil Taylor and master joiner John Lowe – spawned a rare talent for controlling tungsten. Trina did football and sprinting, and netball and javelin to county level, at school, but admits openly that she had little time for books.
Now it was time for another Trina talent – dogged determination. She got onto a work experience course with a building firm and spent hours tea-making and doing ‘miles of priming’. At woodwork classes at college she got ribbed by some lads and clocked one bloke quite severely. After three years she qualified as a carpenter/joiner with flying colours. All this is told in jaunty style and with humour. It is very reminiscent of Bobby George’s colourful account of his time as a tunnel-digger, builder and bouncer in his book. For instance, Trina is allergic to certain kinds of wood and comes out in rashes when handling it. Nice career choice, love!
The fortitude is highlighted by her account of playing darts, working 12-hour shifts humping and working wood and caring for her partner Gully when he got Guillain-Barre syndrome and had to be lifted about the house. The disease struck when Trina was only 19 and Gully was still in a wheelchair on her 21st birthday.
From 1988 Trina was a top darter. She played county darts for Warwickshire and was capped by England in 1994. But that was not enough. She played Super League darts against men and won her first four matches. Then it was off on the road with Kevin Painter and Martin Fitzmaurice on the ‘Beauties and the Beast Tour’ (Answers on a postcard…) with Trina knocking up the stage setting in her shed!
And did she have fun while conquering the world of women’s darts. At her wedding to Gully in 1994, her dad took his false teeth out before making his speech ‘in case they fall out when I get emotional’. And accounts of boozy nights with other top lady players make lively reading. One mammoth session on ‘Orgasms’ (Cointreau, Baileys and Tia Maria – even Jocky would have poured that down the netty) matches any of the great beerfest stories of the men’s game in the 1980s.
Trina’s account of her seven Ladies World Championship wins is fascinating as is her pride in coming 12th out of 20 male players in the 2001 Pentathlon. And even her beef against all the money and publicity the blokes get is leavened with humour. At the 2001 Lakeside world championship a female streaker got more publicity than she did as the champ and she took it on the chin.
That’s darts/show biz.
Overall, Golden Girl is a funny, inspiring look at a classy sassy lassie in a bloke’s world. We all appreciate her talent, and after this read, I for one, really dig her style.
Sid Waddell – January 2008
The “Golden Girl” – Dartoid’s Review
I don’t know Trina Gulliver but if we ever meet she’ll probably punch me in the head and knock me out (something she once did in school to a lad who slagged her off) after she reads the first few paragraphs of this!
I’ve just flipped the final page of Gulliver’s 309-page manuscript, co-authored by Doctor of Darts Patrick Chaplin. Scheduled to be released by John Blake Publishing of London in just days to coincide with Gulliver’s quest for an unprecedented eighth world championship at Lakeside, “The Golden Girl – The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Ever Ladies’ Darts Player” offers something for all darts enthusiasts, particularly any female who aspires to darts greatness, and randy males.
For members of the male persuasion, of which I include myself (even though my wife painted one of my toenails red over the holiday), the book is full of distractions. But this is a good thing. Managing distractions is just as important when reading about darts as it is while trying to keep ‘em straight.
In the “Golden Girl” the distractions begin early and just keep coming. There’s the part about the “Orgasm” Gulliver had at the World Cup in Perth. There’s the part about when she dropped her pants in front of Kevin Painter and Martin Fitzmaurice. There are her intimations that she longs to snog rugby star Jonny Wilkinson. And most distracting of all, there’s the part where she exclaims “My God. Yes! Yes! Yes!” after a particularly significant occasion.
So to all you male darts people out there who may think that plunking down cash for a book about our sport written by a woman is beneath you I encourage you to go out and buy it now. I guarantee you’ll have no problem “keepin’ it straight” while turning the pages.
Seriously, this book is a must-read for anyone of any gender and any darts skill level. Moreover, the trials and tribulations and the determination and perseverance that led, and sometimes haunted, Gulliver’s journey to the apex of her profession hold a lesson for all of us, inside and outside the sport of darts.
Success did not come easily for the Golden Girl. Her womanizing father left home early in her life and married her mother’s best friend, leaving her mother alone to raise her and her four siblings. Always a tomboy, she struggled at school, excelling only in sport. As a young girl she was most proficient at rounders ball and netball which, being an American, I had never heard of before. A friend has explained that both are highly skilled activities that basically involve a “bunch of young girls running around in short skirts.” Judging from the photos in the book I can fully appreciate why Gulliver’s skills were so appreciated.
She met the love of her life, Paul “Gully” Gulliver, as a teenager. He was a physical specimen (a rugby player) who turned on more than the tomboy in her. But at the age of nineteen, after they had moved in together, Gully mysteriously contracted Gillian Barre Syndrome (a form of Multiple Sclerosis) and was bedridden for two years. It was during this period that Gulliver began to focus on darts, largely as a mental respite. This was also when she first began to imagine what it might be like to make darts her full time occupation.
By trade Gulliver was a carpenter and joiner. In keeping with her tomboy grounding and because she liked handling wood (no pun intended) she earned her degree in this male dominated profession. For a while she worked for others, then for herself – and for a year or so she even lectured at a college to women’s carpentry and joinery classes (which she credits as helping to build the self-confidence that would become so important to her darts career).
It was in 1986 that Gulliver became convinced she really could make it with her darts and someday become world champion. From a very young age she always strived to be the best at whatever she took on – and not just among the ranks of her own gender. Not once did she doubt she could compete on an equal level with the men, not in the workplace and certainly not in the male-dominated world of darts. This later confidence was reinforced during the 1986-1987 darts season when she was accepted for membership on a men’s Superleague team in the Warwickshire Men’s League, and won her first four matches.
Like virtually all darts players, male and female, who aspire to make a go of it among the professional ranks, Gulliver struggled financially. As she began to hit the tournament circuit, without a sponsor, she quickly depleted most of her and Gully’s savings – and the savings of her supportive mother. Yet she plodded on – recognizing that even though the payouts were ridiculously small for the ladies compared to the men – she had no alternative. If she were to achieve her goal of being the world’s best she had no option but to attend as many tournaments as possible to earn precious ranking points.
Gulliver sent hundreds of letters to prospective sponsors but received the courtesy of only the rare reply and those were negative. Investing in ladies’ darts was simply a non-starter for anyone in the business sector. Were it not for the intervention of fate it is likely that Gulliver’s career would have ended before it hit its amazing stride.
Fate came in the name of Graham Reeves of Reeves Boatbuilders. A casual conversation at a darts-related function led to an unexpected offer by Reeves to cover Gulliver’s expenses for the Swiss Open in 1997 and this quickly evolved into a twelve month deal. “It was a life-changing moment,” recalls Gulliver, and indeed it was. Within a year of the financial pressure being lifted she was firmly installed as the number one lady darts player in the world. Reeves Boatbuilders is still one of Gulliver’s key sponsors.
Success, I suppose, breeds support – and other sponsors began to fall into line. Car Consultants of Ufton gave her a BMW 318 Tourer (and then a Mitsubishi Carisma and a Nissan Primera). Then came McCourt Meats in Cambridgeshire and others.
It was in 1998 that the WINMAU Dartboard Company came calling and this partnership continues as strong as ever. And so does Gulliver… now with seven world titles and countless other victories to her name.
Of course “Golden Girl” recounts much of the darts action along the road Gulliver has travelled – the wins, the losses, the battles and disappointments. But the book is much more than a blow-by-blow remembrance of matches played. “Golden Girl” is a story about overcoming adversity in a world and sport stacked against women and about one woman who has managed to beat the odds.
Throughout Gulliver’s success at the line her husband Gully seldom, if ever, watched her play. Although he attended tournaments, oddly he was unable to watch her compete – he would always remain in the car park until play was complete and someone brought word to him of the result. It’s not surprising that in 2005 Gulliver was divorced and in 2006, during the low point of her life, she made the even more difficult decision to seek counselling.
Yes, counseling. That’s just the kind of book this is – completely open and honest. Gulliver bares all (including, after a jump into a swimming pool at Peter Manley’s and Crissy Howat’s engagement party, the usually well hidden red rose tattoo she treated herself to after being named captain of the England Ladies Team in 2007). She holds nothing back.
Except once… at least a little bit.
In perhaps the only understated comment in the book Gulliver recalls her feelings after the British Darts Organization (BDO) announced in September 2000 that for the first time ever they would include a Woman’s World Darts Championship as an integral part of the 2001 Embassy World Darts Championship at Lakeside. “I couldn’t help,” she writes, “but feel that the world championship might not have happened for us – well, not as soon anyway – unless the PDC had made their announcement and forced the BDO’s hand.”
This statement walks a fine line between careful diplomacy and just plain nutty prognosticating and I sense the Doctor of Darts’ steady influence. But respectfully I submit that “would not have happened” would have been the more accurate declaration.
As many people are aware (and which Gulliver also relates), sometime after the 2000 Embassy finals she and other top lady darts players were approached by the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) Tournament Director Tommy Cox with a board approved proposal that one of them, to be determined by a knockout competition, be given a guaranteed place at the Skol World Darts Championship.
The concept was that the eight top ranked women at the time would battle it out for the 32nd place in the Skol lineup. Gulliver provisionally accepted the offer to participate but due to BDO loyalties, asked to first run it by the powers that be (and still are).
Suffice it to say the “BDO were not happy.” Rumors swirled that participating players would be harshly dealt with, something BDO head honcho Olly Croft later confirmed, saying that any player who participated would be stripped of their BDO/WDF ranking points.
Then, as has since become predictable, in September 2000 the BDO reacted to the PDC’s move by announcing plans for the 2001 Woman’s World Darts Championship at Lakeside.
Would the BDO have done so had the PDC not acted first?
Of course not!
The BDO has done little in years that wasn’t in response and spiteful of the PDC. The organization is today a classic example of Founder’s Syndrome and the time has long past for the leadership to step down. They are an albatross around the neck of progress.
Not surprisingly, as Skol approached most of the top ranked ladies who concluded the risk wasn’t worth the glory. Only two remained: America’s Stacy Bromberg (who eventually saw the light) and Gayl King from Canada. The rest is history…
King competed and in doing so became the first woman ever to play in the finals of a world championship tournament previously open to men only. She took the first set before falling 3-1 to Graeme Stoddart (ranked 29th in the world at the time).
When I came upon this section of “Golden Girl” I admit it – I briefly scratched my head. Why, I wondered, is Gulliver, who is so forthcoming in sharing details of her private life and her deepest feelings in every other respect, so meticulously careful when referring to the BDO – particularly in light of her confirmation that for years top women darts players appealed to the BDO elite to stage a world championship for the ladies, without result?
Ah ha! Silly me…
I needn’t have pondered – for just pages later my question was answered, and the answer was obvious: However it came to pass, the ladies got what they wanted and deserved and to poke the BDO in the eye, then or now, for Gulliver is to risk all that she’s struggled to achieve.
Moreover they knew what they were getting. The BDO offered a carrot with the stick. Almost incongruously Gulliver adds that only now can she “reveal” that when she discussed with the BDO their threat to sanction ladies who participated in the knockout for Skol she was asked how the ladies would react to the prospect of a Woman’s World Darts Championship at Lakeside in conjunction with the men’s tournament.
As clear as it is that Gulliver believes with all her heart she can compete on the PDC’s oche with the best male darts players in the world (and probably dreams about doing so), to even approach publicly contemplating the prospect is to risk the wrath of the BDO. Their wrath, if acted upon, could jeopardize all that Gulliver has worked her life to earn – the prestigious captaincy of the England Ladies Team and her world title.
So what’s next for the Gulliver?
At the top of the list of course, and imminent, is the defence of her world championship title.
As there are those who dismiss the value of the title because of the limited number of women permitted to compete and the short format, she will continue to push for more women to be included and a lengthening of the format – as well as for a fairer share of the prize money. (For her 2007 victory she cashed a check for less than one-tenth the £70,000 award Martin Adams took home as the men’s champion.)
As one of the founder’s of the Ladies Darts Association (LDA) established to “promote, stimulate and improve the sport of darts nationally, internationally and worldwide for all women participating in darts,” she’ll continue her lifelong pursuit of a world where in darts and in life women are given a fair chance.
But still the question remains: will “Golden Girl” Trina Gulliver someday make the big switch? Will she opt to prove she can do what she has for so long believed she can do: compete with and regularly beat the best of the best in the world, the men?
Time will tell. If history is knowledge… if the road Gulliver has traveled thus far in life is any indication, I think it is clear that she wants to. Whether she does is another story and one which I and many others hope will be the subject of her next book.
Finally a personal note to Trina…
Trina, if you read this and we ever do meet and you’re able to refrain from punching me out – I have a proposition for you (and it’s far better than the one Tommy Cox offered): If you show me your rose tattoo I’ll show you my red toenail. And, I’ll arrange for you to snog Jonny Wilkinson.
Is it a deal?
Best of luck at Lakeside.
From the Field,
Trina Gulliver ‘Golden Girl’
The Autobiography of the Greatest Ever Ladies’ Dart Player
After two years in the making the first autobiography from a lady dart player will be available on Monday 7th January 2008.
Trina Gulliver is, without doubt, the best female dart player the World has ever seen and it is fitting that the first autobiography from a female dart player is hers. Trina has won the Ladies World Darts Champions held annually at the Lakeside, Frimley Green, since it first was conceived in 2001; a total of seven consecutive wins. Trina begins her eighth defence of the title in January 2008, a victory here will equal Phil Taylor’s greatest consecutive World Championship wins of eight.
Trina Gulliver, born Catrina Elizabeth Jones, entered this world on 30th November 1969. The daughter of Muriel and Geoff Jones and one of five children. Her early school days seemed to be pure hate as she struggled with academic work but excelled at sports. A self confessed tomboy sees Trina eventually gaining a placement at Mid-Warwickshire College in Leamington Spa one day a week to undertake a general building course. In her last year of school, pupils had the option of going on work experience placements and with a little help from her brother Trina gained a placement at ‘Silverstone’s Builders’. After leaving school Trina continued working for Silverstone’s and went to college to gain a qualification from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). (A truly hard pursuit as she was the only girl within the group). This was no easy ride but as you will read in her book, she manages to overcome many adversities.
At the early age of sixteen Trina first met her future husband Paul known by friends as ‘Gully’. Although it would be over a year before she asked him out! Paul and Trina eventually buy a house together but devastation arises one day after Paul is taken seriously ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome a form of Multiple Sclerosis. Paul previously a fit athletic rugby player is reduced to being nursed 24/7 for two years. By this time Trina had begun to play some serious darts. She was playing for the Warwickshire Ladies B team and later in 1988 the Ladies A team.
In 1994 Paul and Trina marry. Trina was working as a fully qualified carpenter but her regular work begins to interfere with her pursuit to gain world ranking points. With Paul’s blessing Trina gives up her regular employment relying on contacts to provide her with carpentry work that she can undertake around her darting commitments. After a year it seems despite achieving a World Ranking of 10th Trina’s dream of becoming No1 will not be fulfilled.
Trina at this point either had to again a sponsor or give up the professional darts circuit as she had exhausted hers and Gully’s savings in her pursuit. After mailing hundreds of requests to companies for sponsorship with either little orno reply she manages to gain full support from a friend Graham Reeves of Reeves Boatbuilders purely by chance. Later she manages to gain a number of other sponsors including the World renowned Winmau Dart Board Company.
Ladies darts is still yet to see the rewards that are on offer to the men’s game. It still fails to gain the TV and press coverage it surely deserves as the general standards can be on a par with their male counterparts. The costs to participate and travel are on a par with the men’s game but despite this the financial awards are far from equal.
It wasn’t until 2001 that the first Ladies own World Championship was conceived by the BDO. It seemed to take an announcement by Tommy Cox the PDC Tournament Director to offer a place in the PDC World Darts Championship to a lady dart player to prompt the BDO to take action. The top eight ranked ladies players were invited to battle it out for a place in the Championships. Although Trina initially agreed to take part she wanted to consult the BDO first. As we have come to expect from this organisation they were not happy and threatened any lady that took part would lose their ranking points for the year! Trina could not afford to lose her the points therefore didn’t accept Tommy Cox’s offer.
The route to success is far from easy for Trina and after the third defence of her World Title she and Paul separate and eventually divorce. The long time spent away from her husband had taken its toll and it was time to move on.
The book is far from a blow by blow encounter of games and matches but it does cover many of Trina’s wins as well as her losses. There are many funny extracts including dares from darting exhibitions to the marriage of Crissy Howart and Peter Manley. Above all this is not a book just aimed at the ladies. It shows the true difficulties to overcome to pursue a dream. Trina gives a very open account of her feelings of events that have taken place in her life from the good the bad and the ugly.
‘Chuffin hell’ Trina it was a good read, you know what I mean….
Trina Gulliver ‘Golden Girl’
The Autobiography of the Greatest Ever Ladies’ Dart Player
When I first read about the book, I immediately preordered it, even before I stumbled over Dartoids book review.
I got it early this month, started to read it and can tell you now, I really can only recommend it even though it’s in no way as funny as Dartoids review.
It’s a serious minded book by a probably not only serious minded dart player. She tells from time to time, that she loves it to celebrate, to meet with friends and to drink with them.
But it’s nevertheless serious minded and tells us a lot about all the problems Trina had till now to overcome in her life. And there were enough! She didn’t like school very much; it was a hard time for her. She did choose a male dominated profession, she’s a joiner and carpenter, getting there was not easy either. Her boyfriend and later husband was very ill for some time, that’s were she started to play more darts.
She had to decide whether getting on with being a joiner and carpenter, earning a good living, or risking to get a full time lady dart player. She decided for the darts, as we all know, but that was a hard decision and she had to struggle a lot to get where she now is. And by doing so in the long run she ruined her marriage.
But she definitely does lead the life she wants to lead and she is enjoying it in spite of all obstacles and problems and as there are still a lot of things she has not yet achieve, we probably will see and hear much more of her.
I really can only recommend the book, the woman is definitely, following Taechons definition, a dart addict and we all can learn from her. She never gave in, she doesn’t waste her time and energy with whining, she just wants to play darts and that’s what she does.
©2007 Charis Mutschler
A short review by Scott Harrison, President of Nuvolux and creator of The Circumluminator dartboard illumination system
I have read Trina’s autobiography. While giving the details of a great number of her tournament engagements, its episodes included a great variety of stories, along with interesting observations of her friends and opponents.
Her stories reminded me what a pleasure it is to play with good friends who are also competitive. Her long relationship with Francis both as teammate and opponent is a delightful tale.
I think you and Trina have a winner in her autobiography, on both sides of the Atlantic. And that Ladies Darts will see a positive impact as well.
Austin 16th January 2008
Patrick’s comment: Thanks Scott. I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Both Trina and I have been encouraged by the reviews and comments received so far.
If anyone else wishes to post a review of ‘Golden Girl’ on my website, please forward the review direct to me. PC
The long awaited autobiography of Trina Gulliver ‘Golden Girl’ The Autobiography of the Greatest Ever Ladies’ Dart Player – Trina Gulliver (with Patrick Chaplin) will be available from 7th January 2008.
John Blake Publishing – Website
Book is available from Amazon.co.uk. and other leading book sellers
- Author: Trina Gulliver
- Details: Hardback, John Blake Publishing
- ISBN: 9781844545001
- Release Date: 7th January 2008
- Price: £17.99
The official website of Trina Gulliver
© 2008 Patrick Chaplin