Chris Maume: Waddell preaches to Purfleet's converted

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While the Romans had to make do with Janus to mark the fading of the old year into the new, we have Sid Waddell. With Christianity on the way out, who's to say that in these wild, witless times, the Voice of Darts, via the records of his annual missives from Purfleet, couldn't eventually replace Christmas, which is stolen goods anyway?

It's historical fact that in order to do a Hollywood rewrite job on the birth of the executed Jewish trouble-maker around whom they'd based their cult, zealots hijacked the festival of Saturnalia, the December celebration of the God of Sowing. It was all there in Rome - a public holiday with a bit of religion, but mostly presents and family get-togethers, eating, drinking and dancing with granny. They even had pilei, daft hats worn to dinner.

Then, presumably, it was all down the amphitheatre to watch a bunch of plays they'd seen at least XXVII times before followed by Top C Crucifixions. Essentially, we nicked the lot. Saturnalians are now thought to be thin on the ground. The Christians are having their time, but by 4004 it'll be all change again.

History will once more be mangled in the name of a higher truth and Little Baby Jesus will be a memory as distant as Curiosity Killed The Cat. Our descendants' end-of-year celebrations will involve throwing small projectiles tipped with sacred tungsten at circular ikons while the faithful drink lager and shout.

The Circus Tavern will be the holy place, the craven idols the trinity of the oche - Phil the Father, Jocky the Son and Eric the Crafty Ghost. The bible of the Church of the Double Top will, of course, be the complete Waddell transcripts from the PDC World Championship on Sky Sports 1.

Though it was just another day at the office for the world's greatest commentator, future scholars poring over the Word of Sid as revealed on Wednesday will not be too disappointed at his work on the match between Alex Roy, "The Ace of Herts" or "The Mouth of the South", versus Denis "The Heat" Ovens.

It was young gunslinger versus old plodder, as the 46-year-old Ovens let the swaggering Roy, 17 years his junior, walk all over him. "The Force, if you're Obi Wannabe Kenobi, is definitely with Roy," as Waddell put it.

It was actually fairly dull at first, particularly with Ovens being a graduate of the Bjorn Borg School of Emotional Display. "Roadkilled rat," Waddell called him. He worked hard to big it up. "The crowd's waiting for thrills like the crowd at a motorcyle track when they know that the Ducati 2000 is travelling far too fast!" Never knowingly understated.

As Ovens continued to trail, Waddell had words of wisdom. "Well, the old proverb, 'It's one thing to put the beans in the pan, it's another to make them bubble'! He's got to get bubbling!"

Though Ovens did eventually make Roy work - "the swagger has become a partial stagger" - "The Mouth from the South" was not to be silenced, winning 4-3 in sets. "He can put his tungsten where his gob is!" Waddell said. "He knows he can be a pillock, but he's got a great sense of humour. There's a showman in the gloamin' by the bonny banks of Thames. He leads with the mouth - but the darts live up to the lip!"

There was also much to enjoy from Sid's sidekick, Dave Lanning, who was responsible for the first Literally Gaffe of the year, a corker. "If Roy has a flaw in his make-up," he said, "it's that, because he literally plays with his heart on his sleeve, he can get a little disconsolate." And very, very bloody.

He also saw in Roy "the walk of a soccer player, the legs of a Queen Anne piano". They'll be puzzling over that one as well in 4004.

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