James Wade’s tribute to an iconic voice and being a nine-dart magnet

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I would like to start this column by passing on my very best wishes to the family and friends of the late John Gwynne.

If John wasn’t a household name, he was certainly a household voice and most sports fans in the UK would recognise his captivating tones, whether it be from Sky Sports News, the darts or other occasions. Like Sid Waddell, John had a brilliant way of capturing the raw emotion of sporting occasions, particularly landmark achievements such as nine-dart finishes.

Now, people that know darts know that I have an uncanny ability to attract nine-darters, although unfortunately, they often tend to be against me rather than thrown by me (MVG was even rude enough to try and it in back-to-back legs while Phil Taylor WAS rude enough to do two in a match). Blackpool and the World Matchplay is certainly a tournament associated with John and if I give myself a chance of achieving darting perfection this week, I will be dedicating it to John and his family – rest in peace, mate.

READ MORE: James Wade column: 20 years at the top and rinsing a Blackpool stallholder

Talking about Blackpool, I can’t contain my excitement for this venue. It really is the last of the ‘traditional’ venues that we play at. While things like the Premier League and the big arena tours are amazing, there is something magical about the Winter Gardens and the crowds that attend.

They really know their stuff and make it an enjoyable experience for the players, which is why I have got my heart set on lifting the title again. I do feel that my game is trending in the right direction after a run of Player Championship events last week, and I am now looking forward to getting onto the stage on Sunday evening and starting my campaign.

Looking at the weather forecast it looks like there are going to be some very hot days and nights in that venue. I expect to see some red faces on the stage and some red bodies in the crowd from the people that have spent the day at the seaside.

Who will win the World Matchplay? Have your say in the comments section below.

I had the chance to switch jobs this week when I helped out at a tyre-fitting garage in Sheffield while I was taking a break from the Players’ Championships in Barnsley. I headed to Penistone Tyres just down the road from the venue and worked with their team for a few hours, which was fun.

It was nice to get my hands dirty in a garage again for the first time in a while and I think there were a few darts-watching drivers doing a double take when they saw their tyre fitter!

Enjoy Blackpool and take care.



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