Wayne Mardle shares inspiration behind iconic Michael Smith 9-darter commentary

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Wayne Mardle lost his voice and had to leave the booth during the historic leg of darts (Image: Getty Images)
Wayne Mardle lost his voice and had to leave the booth during the historic leg of darts (Image: Getty Images)

Sky Sports pundit Wayne Mardle hopes he has given an iconic piece of commentary a new lease of life after shouting "I can't speak" during Michael Smith's stunning nine-dart finish at the Ally Pally.

Mardle echoed a famous YouTube clip where rugby league commentator Mick Morgan rants at the referee in his Yorkshire accent in the 1994 Regal Trophy final between Castleford and Wigan. 'Hawaii 501' used the words in a more positive fashion, describing what was arguably the greatest leg of darts ever as Michael van Gerwen agonisingly missed his own nine-dart chance before Smith capitalised.

Mardle didn't even try to conceal his exhilaration as things unfolded, crying out: "One man misses, does the other man get? I have never seen the like. Come on Bully Boy. Yes! Double 12...That is the most amazing leg of darts you will ever see in your life. I can't speak, I can't speak."

In the aftermath, fan reaction was dominated by Mardle's commentary, as well as the fact he then had to step down from his role mid-match after losing his voice. But rugby league followers also noted the replication of Morgan's words, with Mardle readily admitting he was mimicking the former England international.

"Rod Studd (Sky Sports colleague) introduced me to it about a dozen years ago and 'I can't speak' is something that me and Rod say to each other a lot and when there are no words I say it," Mardle told the PA news agency. "I even say it at home. I say it to Mrs Mardle and then walk away."

Gerwyn Price left red-faced after wearing ear defenders to block fans out rridqqieqiqerinvGerwyn Price left red-faced after wearing ear defenders to block fans out

"I don't watch rugby league, I have no enthusiasm for it, but it's a brilliant way of saying, 'No matter what, you can't add anything so you might as well go quiet'. Rather than go quiet, I just offer 'I can't speak'. I do it so often it just came naturally to me, but it is an absolute rip off of Mick Morgan. I am not claiming it as mine, it just came out."

Wayne Mardle shares inspiration behind iconic Michael Smith 9-darter commentaryMick Morgan's take on a rugby league cup final was remembered by Wayne Mardle (YouTube: Rugby League)

And Mardle now hopes the famous line has been reintroduced to sports fans: "Maybe I have introduced it to a new generation. That would have been in the 1990s, so maybe I have introduced it to a generation that had no idea," he continued.

"I am not claiming it to be mine. These things just come around, many times people have said 'They think it's all over'. We all know where it's come from. Many times things get passed down and the meaning becomes different. I hadn't thought about it but originally it was an unbelievable thing in a negative way - but this was a positive."

The four-time world championship semi finalist also insisted he hadn't pre-empted the line: "I am quite a reactionary person, when I plan I can sound scripted and it can all sound a bit fake. My favourite commentators are those that react. I didn't plan for that, I didn't know what was going to come out when Michael Smith hit the 60 and then 57 and then the 24."

"Sid Waddell used to say, 'I am practising my ad-libs' which is a fantastic line, but I don't. I am reactionary and I like the fact it comes out as a bit of a fan. I try to keep it as natural as I can."

Smith himself later took to Twitter to praise Mardle for his role in the moment, which set up 'Bully Boy' to win a thrilling final 7-4. But the pundit himself has said that the quality of Smith's play exceeded his own commentary.

"I am not sure it is my commentary that will stand the test of time. The leg will," he added. "I have been involved in darts for 40 years and I have never, ever seen it and my commentary will be part of that leg. I was in the right place at the right time and if anyone thinks I enhanced it, then I am happy to go along with that. I am just a fan with a mic in my hand, I was in a privileged position."

Fraser Watson

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