It’s been busy in lockdown for Sky Sports’ Wayne Mardle, he has claimed a maiden world (walk-on) title and been forced to play down talk of a comeback.
A recent social media frenzy where fans teased the possibility of a sensational return was aided by Glen Durrant egging on the Sky Sports commentator to give Qualifying School a bash next year
The five-time World Championship semi-finalist retired from competitive action in 2012 and remains one of the sport’s most popular figures on the exhibition circuit, but he was forced to refute claims of a return following a playful tweet from one of his followers last month.
One of his supporters wrote: ‘Mardle making a comeback, superb’ and he was inundated with hundreds of tweets from fans and players alike, urging him to make the return to the big time.
Premier League leader Glen Durrant was among those calling for Mardle to make an appearance at Qualifying School in 2021, but the Sky Sports expert set the record straight on the Darts Show podcast.
“They really riled me,” he quipped. “Someone on Twitter – I think he had about 300 or 400 followers, just typed back from nowhere saying: ‘Ah so the comeback is on. Good stuff.’
“Then three or four people were saying things, then it turned to like 20 and I’m thinking, ‘I have got to stop this’, there is no comeback. This has all snowballed out of control
“Well with that, people were being sarcastic in their answers: ‘Ah right so the comeback is on, ah great’. ‘No, no it’s not’, but then people were reading everybody else’s replies that were sarcastic.”
THERE IS NO COMEBACK HAPPENING. How did this gather this much pace! STOP!!!!
Mardle won nine ranking titles and featured in three major finals during his PDC career although he was left exasperated by the speculation, as his wife Donna could attest to.
“In the end Donna looked at me as I was slumped in the corner in the lounge room and she said: ‘What’s the matter with you?’
“She said ‘you look stressed?’ I went: ‘I am.’ I said ‘they think there’s going to be a comeback’. It couldn’t be any further from the truth.
“I went: ‘I can just about hold it together when I’m in my own practice room, let alone under pressure, I don’t want any of that malarkey.'”
Mardle has spoken candidly about his reluctance to return to the pressurised environment of the PDC circuit, but despite the enforced hiatus amid the coronavirus crisis, he managed to secure a maiden major title.
Back in March, the PDC hosted the Walk-On World Cup on their official Twitter account – comprised of a series of polls in the form of a 64-player knockout competition.
Mardle claimed the inaugural crown with victory over Raymond van Barneveld in the final, after his legion of fans guided him to victory over Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen earlier in the event.
VOTE MARDLE! YEAH!!!! NEW GARDEN WALK ON!!!#WalkOnWorldCupFinal @OfficialPDC pic.twitter.com/e3WGqflwOr
Now he’s bidding to add the World Cup of Shirts title to his collection and he began his campaign with victory over another multiple world champion in the shape of Gary Anderson, and Mardle is revelling in his prolific run of form.
“Lloydy (Colin Lloyd) wins the Grand Prix and Matchplay – proper trophies. I win ones through being a popularity contest,” he joked.
“I needed to mobilise my Twitter followers otherwise I wouldn’t even have won that. I tell you what though, now I am the Walk-On world champ – yeah!”
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