Sid Waddell, the voice of darts, dies of cancer at 72

Cambridge-educated author and all-round sportsman had a way with words that few could match, reports Jonathan Brown

He was the master of hyperbole whose infectious enthusiasm made him as popular with darts fans watching at home as he was with the professionals on the oche. Sid Waddell, the Cambridge-educated Geordie voice of the sport, has died aged 72 (treble 16, double 12).

His death was announced by his manager, Dick Allix. "With great sadness, we announce that following a long illness, broadcaster and author Sid Waddell died peacefully with all his family around him late last night," he said. Sid had been suffering from bowel cancer.

The world of darts queued up to pay their respects to the polymath who combined a successful writing career with his broadcasting commitments and helped elevate the public bar pursuit to cult entertainment.

Among them was Eric Bristow, of whom he once said: "When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer – Bristow's only 27."

The five-time world champion, known as the Crafty Cockney, said: "Sid was top dog, wasn't he? He's not going to be replaced. He was a one-off." Fellow Sky Sports commentator Dave Clark said the sport would never be the same, describing Waddell as a "genius of the microphone" who had "the intellect of Einstein".

Classic Waddellisms include: "His eyes are bulging like the belly of a hungry chaffinch", "Even Hypotenuse would have trouble working out these angles" and "If we'd had Phil Taylor at Hastings against the Normans, they'd have gone home."

Born into a Northumberland mining family, Waddell was an all-round sportsmen but excelled at what was then the 100-yard dash, clocking up times of just over 10 seconds.

He was also a talented winger at rugby. Before reading history at St Johns, Cambridge – where he represented the university at darts – he worked on the buses. Later, while undertaking postgraduate research in Sociology at Durham University, he was briefly famous as the singer with a band called the Steaming Hot Gravy Boatmen.

He swapped academia to work in regional television in its heyday, alongside Michael Parkinson and Russell Harty, devising the cricket programme Indoor League for Yorkshire Television, presented by Fred Trueman. He also wrote the popular 1980s children's series Jossy's Giants.

But it was for his work behind the microphone, commentating on darts first for the BBC in 1976 and then Sky in the early 1990s, that he was best known. His catchphrase, "There's only one word for it – magic darts," was just one among many he deployed to evoke the gladiatorial excitement of the discipline he loved. Others included: "This lad has got more checkouts than Tescos" and "William Tell could take an apple off your head – [Phil] Taylor could take out a processed pea".

When the atmosphere became particularly animated he would remark: "We couldn't have more excitement if Elvis walked in and asked for a chip sandwich."

In one …Sid's sayings

"I don't know what he's had for breakfast but Taylor knocked the Snap, Crackle and Pop outta Bristow."

"He looks about as happy as a penguin in a microwave."

"When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer… Bristow's only 27."

"Look at the man go. It's like trying to stop a water buffalo with a pea-shooter."

"This lad has more checkouts than Tescos."

"This game of darts is twisting like a rattlesnake with a hernia!"

"There's only one word for that: magic darts!"

"The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in with a portion of chips … you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them."

"Bristow reasons … Bristow quickens ... aaah, Bristow.

"That was like throwing three pickled onions into a thimble!"

"There hasn't been this much excitement since the Romans fed the Christians to the Lions."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created