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Hawaii 501: Life as a Darts Pro by Wayne Mardle

Release date: 08th March, 2006
Publisher: Vision Sports Publishing

List Price: £12.99
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Hawaii 501: Life as a Darts Pro
By Wayne Mardle
Vision Sports Publishing price: £9.74 (saving £3.25 on published price)

Twenty-odd years ago, when introducing Jocky Wilson's undulating tale of life as a darts player, Sid Waddell, the game's most recognisable voice, described the professional darts scene as a "landscape of colour, character, style, wit and controlled aggression."

Many have emulated Jocky's quest for darting fame and fortune. The guys who have succeeded, men such as John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Cliff Lazarenko and Phil Taylor are characters who, like Jocky, give the impression of having been around the block a few times. Waddell's description could have been written for any one of them.

It could apply to a new kid on the block too, one Wayne 'Hawaii 501' Mardle, described as "the most flamboyant darts player in the world today", a statement with which, as this book's cover confirms, it would be difficult to argue.

Mardle is Essex man personified, a larger-than-life character whose ebullient exterior belies an unbelievable drive to succeed. In order to support his efforts to first become a professional darts player, then to break into the world's top ten and ultimately to realise his boyhood dream of taking on Phil 'The Power' Taylor, he worked for more than fifteen years as an accounts clerk. During this period, he glimpsed opposite ends of the darts scale, mostly the bottom.

He has, however, now made it into the world's top ten and this very funny book gives an account of his year on the domestic and international darts circuit. It is as hectic as one might imagine, although throughout, his comments of life as a darts pro reach the very pinnacle of self-deprecation.

Of a long weekend in Norwich where he plays in two consecutive tournaments, including the Vauxhall Holiday Park Classic, he writes, "We're staying in the park itself, but because I'm an international darts superstar we're getting upgraded from a caravan to a chalet." Authors conducting a search for darts' real-life authenticity would find it difficult to surpass that.

Mardle makes it quite clear that he is no fitness fanatic, preferring a double vodka to still water and chicken kebabs to the relatively healthy alternative of KFC, yet when the pressure is on, he can perform with the best of them. He could be the darting world's equivalent of Canadian snooker player, the late Bill Werbeniuk, who required half a dozen pints of lager just to steady his nerves.

Yet it should be remembered that for all of his jollity, his extrovert nature and Sammy, his pet sturgeon, when it comes to stepping up to the oche, Mardle regularly displays the sort of controlled aggression that Waddell appreciates is an integral part of the best players' game.

Importantly, he also plays the game with a smile on his face, as anyone wearing the type of garish Hawaiian shirt he now dons as part of a sponsorship deal would have to. Mardle clearly has an affinity for such clothing: he reveals that when he and his wife Donna married in Las Vegas in 2002, "all 21 guests wore matching Hawaiian shirts with pink flamingos on 'em."

Self-deprecation, humour in abundance, colour, character and an obvious desire to succeed, Mardle is a man worth reading about; it's not Shakespeare, but it will make you laugh.

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