Wayne Mardle still feels pain at losing five Darts World Championships semis

Wayne Mardle still feels pain at losing five World Championships semi-finals, but acknowledges it was just never meant to be.

Mardle reached the last four in the BDO format in 2001 before being denied the chance of the PDC final four times in five years from 2004.

Phil Taylor was often Mardle's nemesis, as he was for many darts stars, though the current Sky Sports pundit did get the better of the Power in 2008's quarter-finals.

But he came unstuck against qualifier Kirk Shepherd, who went on to be beaten by John Part in the final at Alexandra Palace.

"I've played in five World Championships semi-finals and lost them all," Mardle told Daily Star Sport . "That was my fifth so it wasn't my first rodeo.

"I should have known better by then, I should have learned something. But true to form, I learned nothing until it was too late.

"I don't blame anything or anyone. My attitude was absolutely disgusting. I should have known better.

"I beat Phil Taylor, tears were shed of sheer delight and joy and relief, and Dave Clark said 'Wayne Mardle world champion, how does that sound?'.

"I knew I hadn't won it yet but he was thinking it, other people were thinking it and of course, it rubbed off on me and I started thinking it.

"I got all casual, all blasé, double cocky and in the end I got what I deserved.

"The way I treated Kirk Shepherd that day… I've spoke to him since and apologised for my behaviour, it wasn't sportsmanlike, it wasn't polite, it wasn't pleasant.

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"I treated him like an amateur. I was the amateur otherwise I would have learned my lesson and won the game."

Mardle is still much-loved by many in darts with his Hawaii 501 walk-on an iconic part of his character.

It was a personality that won over plenty, though 2008 was the first year at Ally Pally and Mardle needed to work hard in the win over Taylor.

Mardle added: "I worked hard at getting those that were just clapping the pair of us, or not showing much emotion at all, which was unusual because we'd always had it one way or the other at the Circus Tavern. That held 1200 people, now we are playing in front of 3500.

"It was a big culture shock for some but I decided that anyone who didn't know who they would support would end up supporting me.

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"I definitely believed I was going to win it after beating Phil. In 2001, when I reached my first semi-final, I felt I could win it then. Then every semi-final after that I'm thinking 'I'll win this'.

"There was never a moment where I thought I wouldn't be a world champion. When it gets to another chance, you think this is the one.

"But the furore around the Phil game probably did take a bit out of me in hindsight. I didn't feel that at the time, I just felt that my attitude was wrong.

"Maybe I was just never ready and still to this day have never been ready to be a world champ."

The 2022 World Championships begin on Wednesday night with Gerwyn Price the current champion.

Mardle is backing Michael van Gerwen to win his fourth world title ahead of Price, though has highlighted Ryan Searle as one to watch.

"He plays an old school game, like he should have played in the Seventies, Eighties, Nineties," Mardle added. "He gets on with it.

"He throws these 32g tungsten bombs that you don't see anyone else throw. They work immensely well for him.

"He's not got all the razzmatazz a lot of people have got but he's so watchable because he doesn't faff around.

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"My winner is Michael van Gerwen. I just think enough is enough. I haven't seen anyone really better than him over the last few months.

"Yes we've seen winners but after what he said a few years ago… He won 24 events in one year and said he would give every one of those to win the World Championships.

"He lost but wouldn't it be ironic if he won it this year on the back of a year winning hardly anything. I admire him as a darts player and I think No.4 could be just around the corner."

Whoever wins it, the World Championships have become as well known for the raucous fans in attendance as it has for the darts on show.

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That was rarely the case at Circus Tavern before the move to Ally Pally, and Mardle believes he would have fit right in.

"Do you know what, every time it comes around to the Worlds, the World Matchplay and the Premier League, they are the only events that I get that hankering to want to play competitively again.

"My era, I wouldn't change it for the world, but I would fit in to today's era.

"What I would say about today's darting society is that they do concentrate and take it seriously. I would struggle to do that a lot.

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The crowd, when you see them on Sky Sports, you're thinking I want to be there, it looks great fun.

"They're making the drama. Someone dressed as a crocodile, where no one within 20 feet can see a thing, incredibly they're making it more fun. It's one big darting festival.

"The PDC sell it as a darts party, which it is until the latter stages when it gets really serious."

The party starts now.

Tune in to Sky Sports Darts and NOW to watch every arrow from every session of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace from Wednesday 15th December.

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