Sky Sports commentator Wayne Mardle hopes Michael Smith breathes new life into a famous commentary piece after he exclaimed “I can’t speak” during his breathtaking nine-dart finish in the World Championship final.
Mardle channeled a viral YouTube clip of an angry rugby league commentator uttering the phrase – among other select words – in a thick Yorkshire accent, in disbelief at the referee’s decision.
In the second set, he used his version in a more positive way after Smith’s nine-pointer was lost for words, just after Michael Van Gerwen missed his own perfect dart attempt in arguably the biggest dart leg ever.
Having managed to find the right words for the situation, Mardle said, “One kidnapping, the other taking? I’ve never seen anything like it. Come on, Bully Boy. Yeah! Double 12… This is the most amazing dart stand you will ever see in your life. I can’t talk, I can’t talk.”
The reference hasn’t been lost on many people, and though Mardle admits to scamming Castleford commentator Mick Morgan, who got angry during a match with Wigan, he now hopes the next generation will enjoy it.
“Rod Studd (my Sky Sports colleague) introduced me about a dozen years ago, and ‘I can’t speak’ is something Rod and I say to each other a lot, and I say it when there are no words,” Mardle said. PA news agency.
“I say it even at home. I say that to Miss Mardle and then I walk away.
“I don’t watch rugby league, I have no qualms about it, but it’s a great way of saying ‘Whatever happens, you can’t add anything, so you better keep quiet’.
“Rather than being quiet, I just propose ‘I can’t speak’. I do this so often that it feels natural to me, but it’s definitely a break from Mike Morgan. I’m not claiming it’s mine, it just popped up.
“Maybe I have introduced it to the new generation. That would have been in the 1990s, so I introduced it to a generation that maybe had no idea.
“I don’t claim to be mine. It just pops up out of the blue, many times people said, ‘They think it’s all over.’ We all know where it came from.
“Often times something is conveyed and the meaning becomes different. I hadn’t thought about it, but in the beginning it was amazing in a negative way – but it was positive.”
Mardle insists it’s a natural reaction to what she sees, despite being constantly conscious of it.
“I’m a pretty reactionary person, when I make a plan it can sound like a script and it can sound a little fake,” he added.
“My favorite commentators are those who react. I hadn’t planned for this, I didn’t know what would happen when Michael Smith hit 60, then 57, then 24.
“Sid Waddell used to say, ‘I do my improvisation exercises,’ which is a great saying, but I don’t. I’m reactionary and I like it when it comes off as a bit of a fan. I try to keep it as natural as I can.”
This instinctiveness made Mardle’s interpretation almost as perfect as Smith’s darts, and it means he will forever be committed to a timeless sporting action.
“I didn’t think about it that way, I’m not sure it’s my interpretation that will stand the test of time. It will be a leg,” he claimed.
“I’ve been darts for 40 years and I’ve never seen it and my comment will be part of that foot.
“I was in the right place at the right time, and if anyone thinks I’ve developed that, then I’d be happy to go with him. I’m just a fan with a microphone, I was in a privileged position.
But it all felt a little too much for the excited Mardle, whose post in the comment box was cut short by a sore throat.
“Of course I was heartbroken that I missed the rest,” he added. “What was so frustrating was that I knew it was going to be a temporary thing.
“Just because my throat is like that, I already knew I couldn’t push. I’m not planning these, I couldn’t help myself.
“I can’t be 100 percent in a World Championship final, I can’t back out. I gave everything. It didn’t work for me but oddly enough it did. I went high.