VOICE of darts Sid Waddell, a regular at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena for the Sky broadcast darts tournament, has died - at the age of 72, it was announced today.
Waddell had been battling bowel cancer since last September and the news of his death was confirmed this morning.
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A statement from his manager Dick Allix read: “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, Saturday August 11th, 2012.”
Waddell was a central part of Sky Sports’ coverage of PDC darts events since 1994 and was known for his colourful and excitable commentary style, with his best-known lines including “There’s only one word for it - ‘magic darts’”.
He also noted, while watching Eric Bristow become world champion: “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer...Bristow’s only 27.”
Waddell’s other commentary work included pool’s Mosconi Cup, while he also made a one-off appearance as the BBC National Lottery’s “Voice of the Balls”.
In addition, he has had 11 books published and wrote the sport-based BBC children’s programmes Jossy’s Giants and Sloggers, receiving a nomination for best scriptwriter from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain for the latter.
Former players and broadcasting colleagues queued up to pay tribute after news of Waddell’s death.
Twice BDO World Championship finalist Bobby George wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear of the passing of the legend Sid Waddell or Sidly as I used to call him. Sincere condolences go out to the family x.”
Wayne Mardle, the 2003 World Matchplay runner-up, added: “So so gutted, The legend Sid Waddell passed away last night. Thoughts are with his family right now.”
Sky Sports’ Dave Clark, who worked with Waddell for many years, tearfully remembered his former colleague on Sky Sports News.
“He was the voice of darts,” said Clark. “Darts isn’t going to be the same without Sid Waddell.
“He had a child-like exuberance, he’d be bouncing round like a young puppy in the commentary box, and mix that with the intellect of Einstein.
“He was a brilliant man, a genius of the microphone - I’m going to miss my old mate, that’s for sure.
“I know he’s been really battling this cancer for a long, long time and what I hear from the family is it’s a blessing that he’s gone, but a tragedy.”
Another of the organisation’s presenters, Jeff Stelling, added: “It’s shattering news. Back when I was working with him he made more of an impact than any of the players did. He is totally irreplaceable.
“There has never been such a sports commentator to make such an impact. He had a wonderful turn of phrase. He was the leader of the gang and we were all in his gang.
“On the big occasion he was always there - if he wasn’t there it wasn’t a big occasion. He was the doyen of sports commentating.”
BBC Sport’s Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter: “See that Sid Waddell has lost his fight with Cancer. He really was the voice of his sport. A brilliant, witty, colourful commentator.”
Tributes to Waddell extended beyond sport, with former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott tweeting: “Farewell to Sid Waddell - a man who did so much for darts and voiced so many memorable moments. A double top bloke.”