Today marks eight years since the passing of Sid Waddell. No tribute can do true justice to Sid, for the simple reason that he was better with words than any of those writing them. Nonetheless, it would be remiss of Darts World not to remember Sid and his huge contribution to our game.
From the very start of TV darts, Sid was synonymous with darts. Generation after generation heard the excited tones and voluminous verbiage of ‘The Voice of Darts’. In many ways, Sid encapsulates the remarkable ability of darts to reach across barriers of class, education, and almost any other barrier you care to think of.
The son of a Northumberland miner, Sid had already broken the mold by gaining a scholarship to Cambridge University. His study of modern history provided him with a vocabulary he would use in a truly unique way. He would break it again with his choice of how to use a Cambridge degree.
After graduating Sid flirted with academia, and even folk music, but moving to Granada TV, where he was successful news and local events producer, paved the way for him to combine his career with a passion he has developed whilst injured and unable to play rugby, darts.
Quick to spot an opportunity Sid spotted the potential of TV darts during a 1972 visit to the News of the World event which was screened for the first time. The combination of Alan Evans and a TV show featuring pub games and Fred Trueman was irresistible and, soon after, Indoor League was born. This was the dawn of TV darts and Sid, together with others such as Dave Lanning, can claim much of the credit for getting our game on the box and for ensuring it stayed there.
Sid switched to the BBC and was able to leverage his Indoor League experience to commentating at the early screened events including the inaugural World Championship in 1978. He continued to cover the BDO event through to the first post-split event in 1994. Much coveted by SKY, Waddell then moved seamlessly to covering PDC events and continued to do so until ill health forced him to step down in 2011/12.
During more than thirty consecutive World Championships through the glory days and the struggles, that darts experienced over those four decades. One constant could be relied upon.
The Voice of Darts: Sid Waddell.
Coach’s comment: I was lucky enough to meet Sid during a couple of his later tournaments. He would visit the player’s room before the session and strike up a conversation both with the player and often the family/friends as well. This gave him some colour for even the newer players. But the lovely touch was seeing the debut player’s reactions. For some, it appeared that meeting Sid, and having him commentate on their efforts, was as important as the experience of playing or even the result of their match. RIP.