Wayne Mardle looks back on nightmare end to his Premier League Darts career

Jamie Shaw in Live Darts TV 9 Apr 2018
Mardle looks back on his time in the Premier League (credit:Live Darts)

Wayne Mardle has recalled his nightmare final season as a Premier League player and has advised the current crop to carefully manage their playing schedules.

Mardle was a four-time Premier League participant between 2005 and 2009, narrowly missing out on a play-off place in 2008 on legs difference.

The former World Championship semi-finalist was forced to withdraw from the Premier League midway through the tournament in 2009 after being rushed to hospital due to mumps.

Despite returning to action later that year, Mardle struggled to recapture his best form on a consistent basis and retired from professional competition after failing to qualify for the 2012 World Championship.

Reflecting on his Premier League roller-coaster during his recent appearance on Live Darts TV, Mardle revealed: "It was odd because I never actually realised I was ill.

"I'm not saying it was doctor Phil Taylor, but I was sitting on a sofa waiting to play in Glasgow.

"I was always a bit practicer, as in two or three hours before a match, I get a bit excited, so I never really used to sit down.

"I was just sitting there and Phil went "you're not right, do you feel alright?" and I thought, no I don't feel very well actually.

"Whether he made me feel bad or not, I don't know!

"I played that night, I can't even remember the result but I literally didn't pick up a dart before the game and that was really rare.

"Weeks after that I couldn't make it, came back then played one or two weeks in between, I knew it was going to end in disaster because of the way I felt.

"For an adult, mumps is nasty, I was in and out of hospital for the best part of four or five months, it was a viral infection that just wouldn't leave.

"The best thing that Barry Hearn said to me is that 'we are going to pull you out', I asked if I had a choice and he said 'no, it's for your health and for everyone else.'

"If it was down to me, I'd have played and probably made myself even worse, so Barry made a good decision."

The current PDC calendar now incorporates 18 televised tournaments, as well as a further 41 ProTour events, a far cry from the sparse schedule which accompanied the Premier League during its infancy.

However, Mardle admits he still carefully selected which ranking tournaments to compete in and has advised the current Premier League stars to optimise their own schedules.

"I didn't play all the events back then, exhibitions are the way forward for a lot of players and the rankings didn't really bother me at all," Mardle added.

"The likes of Gary Anderson and Barney, they're picking and choosing and doing the right thing for them.

"They're not the youngest men in the world that are competing and I think they're trying to earn as much as they can as quickly as they can.

"I don't see anything wrong with that, you've got to look after yourself and the family but first off you have to enjoy it.

"If you're playing so often where you're not enjoying it, you can get trod down and be in that rut very quickly and that's not the place to be."

Mardle was part of the inaugural seven-man Premier League line-up in 2005, touring intimate venues including the King's Hall in Stoke, Norwich Sports Village, Carlisle Sands Centre and the Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes.

This season's Unibet Premier League featured a record-breaking crowd of 12,000 at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin, while the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam sold out twice within minutes.

Mardle admits he has been taken aback by the growth of the competition and believes it has become more intense in recent years.

"Who saw it happening?" he added. "Not even Barry Hearn with the vision he's got for the sport. No one saw this happening.

"When the Premier League concept was told to us it was like 'this will work' but back then it was every two weeks and there wasn't as many tournaments to fill in the gaps either.

"It was a completely different thing for us, it wasn't the relentless roadshow that it is now.

"Back then it was a bit of fun, then it became a bit of a roadshow as in your week was dictated to by the Premier League.

"I participated four times and it became more and more professional and more stressful, I've got to say, because more was asked of you from the media and you were expected to act in a professional manor, and for me that was difficult!

"I loved it, if I could play in it now, I would.

"I'd be useless, don't get me wrong! But I'd entertain, I can still dance!"

Since retiring from professional competition, Mardle has worked as an analyst for Sky Sports, while also remaining one of the most popular attractions on the exhibition circuit.

The 44-year-old insists he has no regrets over his decision to retire and has no plans to make a serious comeback in the coming years.

"I was a bit of a grinder and fighter and I'd lost all of that," admitted Mardle.

"Sky made me an offer to commentate.

"It was because I didn't qualify for the World Championship and didn't want to go to Q School, it was a decision that was basically already made.

"They asked if I didn't qualify, would I step in? I said yes. 

"I didn't know when I was going to step in but it just happened sooner rather than later.

"It's worked out absolutely brilliantly for me. From the day I packed up, I'm not regretting a single day."

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Wayne Mardle looks back on nightmare end to his Premier League Darts career

Wayne Mardle has recalled his nightmare final season as a Premier League player and has advised the current crop to carefully manage their playing schedules.

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