When I was 4 my Dad was making some things on his saw set for my sisters, I remember it very well. He was using an electric plane and as all fathers say, "don't go near it" I did! I lost the top half of my index finger and some of my thumb and webbing all on my right hand. I was flown to the Royal Children's hospital and was only one of 3 kids under the age of 10 to have Micro-Surgery in Australia as it was little known way back then in 1965.They took the top half of my middle finger off to make an index finger and also they created a near new thumb.
I can move the thumb but cannot, even today move my index finger! A lot of pain and suffering passed over the years as I was forced by my Mum and Dad to stay right-handed, sometimes holding a pen/pencil for hours on end just like I would hold a dart.
Here is what my hand looked like and looks like to this very day!
17 years later I was with a friend of mine Geoff Egan and he was playing darts at his house, he said "c'mon warren, have a throw". I did, all 3 off the board! But it was great fun even though it hurt. I kept throwing that night when another friend Luke Heggarty from the local RSL called around; he watched me and started showing me how to throw a dart although he didn't know of my handicap.
Geoff and Luke lent me a set of old Tungsten darts, about 18grms and battered but they were mine for as long as I wanted to use them and I wouldn't let anyone touch them for the world. They then took me to the RSL and introduced me to the local team of which Luke was a member. They watched me play a game then asked me if I would be interested in joining their team, I jumped at the chance!
That was the start of my passion for darts but I wasn't to know that I was in for a rude awakening.
We started the 1st comp of 1979 and I played reasonable still conscious of my handicap as I wouldn't tell any of the players of it as I might lose a spot in the team as a result.
Well that wasn't what made me fall to earth with a thud! The Captain came to me at the end of the very 1st match and said "well warren you played ok but for the rest of the season I have another job for you" I didn't know what to expect! I soon did, I was chalking and calling for the rest of the season (practicing in between matches too).
It was the best thing to happen to me and I would advise any youngster to call and chalk as much as possible while they are learning to play and enjoy darts. Mind you it isn't easy as you want to be at the Oche'. Well the rest of the time at the RSL was great but I wanted more, as I was gradually beating all before me.
I was out one night and I met a chap named George Barklem, a great bloke even for an Australian Postal worker. He asked me if I would like to come to the API rooms in Kookaburra Street Frankston and try out for a dart team, so I grabbed my darts and headed off.
There I was welcomed by a lovely lady by the name of Geraldine Hutchinson(who was VERY patient) of whom I hold to this day a great deal respect for, she asked me if I could play in her team (I didn't know it was "A" grade M.P.D.L).
I played but found that I was having trouble holding my darts as my style had changed, so my form dropped and so did I… to "C" grade, I played there for a few seasons. I even hit my 1st 180 there with a set of Barry Tromlow Darts by Unicorn.
I then shifted to the Belvedere Tennis Club (near Seaford) to play darts, that was 1981 and I was selected to play in a team for the M.P.D.L. (division 3) for the Melbourne Cup of Darts at Geelong. We beat the Geelong No1. team by 1 game! It was incredible, we couldn't believe it as it had to go on a count back (a very nervous time for me). After that experience I went to Geraldine and asked about tournaments etc. I was hungry yet I still was having trouble coping with my hand for long periods of time and trying to find the right darts to use. At that time I had got a set of PUMA World Cup darts on the advice of Geraldine, it helped until my hand got really bad. I was in real pain the type that you have no control over, there is nothing that can be done except rest and I didn't want that, as I loved playing Darts but I had to enforce it. In 1985 I started playing again, I had to start all over again and I was finding the going slow.
All the people I had beaten were getting theirs back at me; I went to the Wonthaggi Open and met some great players there. A teamed up with Tuan Pham from the Labour Club in Canberra only to get thrashed by Wayne Weening and Brian Bingham in the 2nd round. That night I practiced with Bruce Matthews and a few others from NSW. The next day was even worse, singles day I drew Russell Stewart straight away. So much for good tournament or so I thought. I sat there watching Wayne and Russell battle out the final, which Russell won and thought, "hell warren you have been around all these top players, they have given you advice and their time on the practice boards… WAKE UP"
I went home not sulking but with a warm feeling that I had learnt another good lesson even though it didn't hit home for awhile, that was that I could have fun and play serious as well and I also forgot about my throwing hand until I got home and it reminded me of the weekend, it ached like hell!
A month after that someone from the RSL Darts Club found out about my hand and sent the Mordialloc/Chelsea Newspaper around to get my story and a few pictures of me throwing darts over my parents as they sat on the couch.
My picture was sent to Darts World magazine in the UK as I was searching worldwide for the perfect dart.
I had rang Unicorn in the UK and they sent me out a set of John Lowe barrels, slick sticks and flights
(Compliments of Mr. Richard Lowy & Unicorn). My head swelled that a top darts company such as Unicorn would help me out and they did!
I went from strength to strength, still bombing out at tournaments but doing well in the local leagues. I stuck with the local scene until 1998.
A mate by the name of Tony Brown had a darts Shop in Coburg Victoria and knew a chap that wanted to go into partnership with him by running a Dart shop in Patterson in Victoria.
I was asked to run it and I did, by that time I had met Bob Anderson and had watched Denis Priestly demolish Russell Stewart and then do the same in the final to Frank Tarr (letting Frank win 1 leg) to win the Pacific Masters held at Flemington where the Australian Championships where held. He then carried on his excellent form to win the Geelong Masters the following weekend (a good weeks work).
By this time I was chopping and changing my darts to suit my hand (not a good thing to do sometimes), I was still trying to find the dart for me.
In 1995, I started using a Russell Stewart Dart and at that time I was playing 4 nights a week and I knew I had to play well and these seemed to do the job. Mondays-Social/Tuesdays-Southport League/Wednesdays-RSL and Thursdays-Puma Super League in Dandenong. I was happy at the Super League as I was captain of a team, of Tony Casey"A"grade, Jamie Brown"B" grade and myself of course graded "C".
We came 3rd in the teams, I won my grade, threw the lowest game (12 darts) at the end of the 21 weeks so I was happy to get approx $350.00 for all the nights when I had to ride there and back to Chelsea on my bike, the reason for me riding a push bike was that since the age of 9 I was an epileptic so on top of my hand that tested me out mentally with my darts to as I had to have 100% concentration and that's not easy when your mind wanders! After that great time over that year I seemed to drift back to the RSL and play darts it was mainly to do with a comfort zone for my hand as I STILL wasn't happy with the set of darts I used.
By the end of 1998 I had won 6 singles titles and 5 doubles titles as well not to mention all the finals I was in, I think over the 18 years I was in about 20 grand finals for my RSL.
In 1999 I decided I needed a change, I was a gaming attendant at the Chelsea RSL and Sandown Greyhounds Tabaret and the Gaming Industry was looking for a change in Staff to serve the public. I had been told that in NSW there was a lot of work so I bit the bullet and moved only to met by a very bad shock! There were no jobs about as the Gaming Industry was different here than from Victoria and I couldn't work behind the bar as they had a lot of casuals, most of them were on call. So I went back to TAFE and continued Information Technology, at TAFE some guys in the recreation building were playing darts I had a game and then I though, "hey why aren't I doing this in comp".
When I got home that night I made some calls and ended up playing in 2 teams (in different leagues) on a Wednesday night I played in the Port Stephens League "A" grade and Thursdays I played in the Maitland League in the "A+" grade.
I had missed darts but the same trouble was there, my hand. I still plugged away with my darts I had but I was slowly going downhill as they were starting to be hard to hold in my hand. I went to Gosford at Easter long week end in 2000 to play in the State 6's for Zone 16 Premier Team
(we had 2 teams there both Premier), it was a great weekend and I averaged around the 19 mark on the first day but I had to get another set of darts. I did and I went from bad to worse, Sunday I went to 23 then on Monday I dropped down to the 16 mark it was horrible but one consolation was that our No.1 team won the 6's title, I suppose getting up at 5am to get a train and going to bed at 11pm didn't help either but I still had the problem with my hand and I was now beginning to wonder at this stage to actually cut my hand off, that's how bad I felt about it.
Well I shifted to Newcastle in June 2000 and concentrated on TAFE until I met my girlfriend that took my mind off of Darts as you can well imagine! We had decided to move to Wollongong, as that's where her parents live, it was a culture shock for me as I was just getting used to quiet life and now was back near the city. My then girlfriend Diana suggested I go and play darts again as she somehow knew I missed it (maybe because I was always saying I wanted to play comp again.. hint, hint).
I went to the local Leagues Club and asked if there was anyone there who knew about darts in the area.
I was introduced to Karl Goldman , then Jnr Vice President of the I.D.D.A. He got me into a team straight away and before I knew it we were in the finals but yet again my hand was hurting (at this point I was using the Tex Wayne Weening Barrels) I played well unfortunately we were beaten by a better team in the Semis.
There are some excellent players in the Illawarra area, the likes of Barry Jouannet Jnr, Glenn Burch, Dieter Rater and Dave McKay.
I went there graded "A" but played in "B" grade. I started off the 1st season of 2001 where I left off from the season before but I was again going down in average with my hand, in the end I gave up, I couldn't play anymore competition darts. In 2002 I picked up a set of Dennis Priestly barrels and was playing once a week social darts for small prize money; I think the rest helped me as from then on I started to play well and play "A" Grade - finally.
UPDATE: PUMA has kindly given me a set of thier 25gram "Summit" Darts to use, these are very similar to my original Priestley Darts *Thanks Pete!* As I am also heading back into the realm of Soft Tip darts, I am enjoying my NEW DMC Paul Lim darts, these will give my hand the best benefit in usage it needs.
Now is: 2013-06-20 00:52