After two days at the Reebok, finals day would be watched from the comfort of the spare room. America’s Next Top Stick Insect, or some such drivel, took precedence downstairs so I was banished to the ‘darts room’ with my crowd of mini bendy bullies who were about to be allocated new homes through our UK Open competitions.

Congratulations to our new follower winner, Ally Steele, our UK Open quiz question winner, Becky Taylor, and our 500th follower, Alex Bibby, who all won Bendy Bullies!

Sunday’s action is described elsewhere on the site – James Wade saw off Paul Nicholson, Mark Webster and Wes Newton to claim his seventh major title as the threads were tied up on a number of sub-plots that culminated in Wade’s remarkable catharsis.

Newton’s run to the final was his best showing in a major and it contained probably his finest display on TV when he demolished Raymond van Barneveld 9-1 in the last 16. That match was the peak of The Warrior’s weekend though as his performances bore a resemblance of Blackpool’s Big One ride.

The Fleetwood thrower didn’t have to extend himself too much in his first two matches against John Henderson and Michael van Gerwen but he steadily improved before hitting the groove against Barney.

From here it was all downhill and in his post match interviews following quarter final victory over Dave Chisnall and semi final victory over Denis Ovens, Newton stated that he didn’t feel he’d played well but had done enough.

Averages of 94.56 and 94.55 contrasted with the 100 plus he banged in against Barney. Come the final his average had dipped to 88.51 and Wade was able to keep his opponent at arm’s length throughout the match. Newton couldn’t produce another big performance when it mattered most.

It is all good experience though and Wes Newton’s career is definitely on the rise. Nobody plays more Pro Tour events and his results over the last year have been great, propelling him to number eight in the PDC Order of Merit. This position was cemented with his Bolton exploits and he now has his sights set firmly on the top five, and a Premier League place in 2012.

He has travelled many miles in his quest for darting glory and he has come a long way (including shuffling about a foot along the oche!) since my first dealings with him back in 2006 when he was known as Avit and made his debut in the World Matchplay at Blackpool. The Matchplay is a home gig for Newton and he was understandably desperate to do well.

I had been discussing sponsorship opportunities with him and this was the first major where he would be wearing my patch on his shirt. He drew John Part on Sunday night in the first round and was distraught after a 10-2 defeat. A year later he’d qualified again and drew Phil Taylor. This is how it goes when you are hovering around the fringes of the top 32.

He has yet to win a match at the Winter Gardens but this year he appears battle hardened and more comfortable on the main stage. Bolton was a big step in the right direction, Blackpool could be a massive leap.

A Grand Slam of Darts place is in the bag for the next two years and Newton has now brought Peter Manley in as manager to help him with the public side of life as a top darts player. This is a smart move; few have been in the spotlight as much as One Dart and his experience will be enormous benefit.

I tell anybody that will listen that their image is a package; what you do away from the oche is just as important as what you do on it. Cultivating a profile and a following, looking after yourself, both physically and mentally, and making yourself an attractive proposition to potential sponsors is almost as important as results on the board.

Many players come and go, visiting the top 16 for a brief period for their fifteen minutes of fame. However Wes Newton looks like he’s here to stay; he’s served his apprenticeship, is about to become a father, and is now ready for a sustained assault on the majors.

Meanwhile James Wade has been gathering major titles at a steady rate; this was his second UK Open title and seventh major (six on TV). Only Phil Taylor has had more success over the period Wade has won these trophies.

What made this latest success so impressive is Wade’s recent revelations of spending a spell in the Priory being treated for depression and mental issues at the turn of the year. The Machine had broken down and needed some serious maintenance.

Few outside darts’ inner circle were aware of what was happening, or the extent of Wade’s obvious mental fragility. We all witnessed his capitulation to Scott Waites in the Grand Slam of Darts final and his meek exit to Mensur Suljovic at the World Championships.

In hindsight, armed with what we now know, reaching the Grand Slam final was a remarkable achievement. He walked off the Ally Pally stage and straight into the Priory where his life changed for the better.

Six months on and he was contesting the first round of the UK Open having amassed insufficient money to be seeded – a reflection of how his tour results had suffered in the preceding nine months. Few could have predicted he would be the last man standing but it was great to see the smile back on his face.

In all honesty James Wade is not everybody’s cup of tea; a curious, introverted character who’s attempts at humour and bravado often have the tumble weed drifting by. The quest for a nickname bordered on comical and the eventual monicker, The Machine, turned out to be perfect, albeit perhaps not for the reasons it was chosen.

However, nobody can deny his talent and he has honed that talent into a winning formula. With Taylor and Barney entering the sunsets of their career, at just 28 years of age he has plenty of time to rack up a CV that will stand the scrutiny of time. A steady home life and rock solid backing from Jason Thame’s Modus Darts organisation is the perfect bedrock.

With nice symmetry it was the UK Open in 2005 where James Wade first came to my attention, he knocked out Wayne Mardle and Bob Anderson (scuppering my accumulator!) before losing to the wily Peter Manley in the last 16. Within a couple of years he had won the World Matchplay and has not looked back.

Wade asserts that his strength of mind has been on the rocks since an early age, plagued by doubt and introspection; this puts his achievements into stark perspective and coats his seven major crowns in a lustrous veneer. In all truth it should have been eight given the position he was in against Waites in ‘that’ Grand Slam final.

Lying in bed and crying on your birthday is no life for a 28 year old; striving to become the best player in the world in your chosen profession on the other hand is. If Wade can get his head around this he will realise he has the world at his feet and then the world of darts really had better watch out.

There is a fresh wind blowing in darts, the old guard are being slowly consigned to the history books as a new brigade take centre stage. As Anderson, Lewis, Nicholson, Newton, Whitlock, Webster, and the rest continue their march on the game, James Wade still leads from the front.

A new chapter in his life coincides with a new page being turned in the sport of darts and if he can win seven majors in the Taylor era with psychological shortcomings, imagine what he will achieve in the future. The new page could well be titled ‘The Wade Era’.

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