A Markers Tale: Part II.

Darts World’s Elias Binks caught up with PDC marker, and referee, Owen Binks. In Part I Owen discussed the travelling, rivalry and costly mistakes as well as some great moments. Here he adds some detail:

In the Binks of an Eye, Owen has progressed rapidly.

Q – How hard is this job?

I would say that a darts referee’s job is difficult, you need to be quick with numbers and aside from that you need to ensure the game is played in a professional manner and be aware of what’s going on around you, such as potential
gamesmanship between players, or crowd noise if you’re refereeing on TV. You must also call the game in such a way that the game deserves with lots of emphasis on big shots. Marking on TV can also be quite difficult especially with the louder crowds, but you must remain totally focused on the job in hand. I would describe it as quite a high-pressured environment.

Q – Fast arithmetic and calls are by no means easy. At the same time, you must always be able to tell the player the score. How do you always manage to stay cool and make hardly any mistakes? Does arithmetic have to practice diligently? How do you do that and how much effort do you spend on it?

Yes, darts maths is definitely not easy. I’ve always been good at mental arithmetic but the players keep you on your toes. Different players go different routes and I’m always predicting a player’s next shot. It can become tricky when they get down to a finish.

I’ve got what they have scored so far, I then always work out what’s left after each dart, I usually have three things in my head at one time. I’m also then predicting their next shot and adding that up before they’ve even thrown it, although often they go a different route which can make it more difficult. For example, at the Summer Series a player had 137, he hit a T5, then hit a T18, he asked me what was left. I replied 68 and was expecting him to hit a T20 but he promptly smashes the third dart into the T16!

That’s tough because you’re then having to add 48 to 69 and you’ve only got a couple of seconds to do it, plus you’ve got the added pressure of the cameras so you have to think fast, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the challenge.

Many of the younger players coming through seem to go all sorts of weird and wonderful ways; over the last few years in the PDC I’ve learned loads of different combinations. Some players nowadays for example, will use the 19s on 268 and 271
because if you hit just one treble with the first two darts you can use the bull, even a 25 will leave you a finish.

I wouldn’t say I spend much time on the counting anymore because PDC events are so regular, it’s therefore still quite fresh in my mind; I call for County too so I’ve usually got some form of refereeing to do.

I do however practice developing the tone of my voice when calling certain shots because my personal goal is to become a full-time referee on the big stage,

in fact, that’s been my dream job since the age of about ten.

Q – As mentioned, there’s hardly any talk about you. Do you think that’s bad? Do you think it would be nice if you were given more credit or do you enjoy the fact that you are hardly mentioned?

The players are of course the main attraction, they’re the ones with the incredible talent…

they’re the ones who bring in the audiences and therefore sell the tickets.

I’ve been credited in the past for the job I’ve done and it’s a nice feeling, especially when it comes from the players, it makes you feel appreciated.

To know the best players in the world think you’re doing a good job is great but I don’t believe it’s something we need to be told regularly. We’re up there to do a job and I’d much rather not be noticed than to be noticed for doing something wrong.

Thank you, Owen, for taking the time to answer Darts World questions and we hope to catch up again soon.

Catch-up on Part I here.