So I can dry my sorry eyes. Poor old Ted Hankey stirs up another controversy at the Grand Slam; this time there’s a ‘fourth party’ involved however.

Ted Hankey

Hankey 2011 GSoD – DartsMad.com

The Count has previous on the Wolverhampton stage. Every darts match involves two parties – the players. Most players like to tune out the ubiquitous third party – the crowd, during major televised matches.

Some (Hankey, Nicholson & King for example) enjoy invoking the ire of those watching and are never far away from punter confrontation. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t.

But there is also a silent fourth party involved in just about every game of darts – alcohol. Silently sloshing around, unseen and unheard, this confidence bringer is the foundation on which many techniques are built.

Indeed some players cannot connect the cow’s arse with the banjo without a few ‘steadiers’.

Alcohol has not been allowed on stage for many years now; the game cleaned up its act and left the fuggy image of the 70’s (darts in one hand, pint of Best and fag in t’other) well behind. But the demon drink has always been a part of darts and probably always will unless breathalyser tests are introduced.

Occasionally it rears its ugly head in the most comical of ways and anybody who watched Ted Hankey’s incredible match on Tuesday evening will be in no doubt that this was the latest case in point.

Or was it?

Amidst much rubbing of his left eye Hankey treated us to an astounding masterclass of inept darting. Miscounting (with 35 remaining he hit 8 and asked if that left 25), forgetting whose throw it was, stumbling, wavering and wobbling all over the oche. He missed the board completely on two occasions.

His match average was 59 (59! I’d have beaten him). He lost 5-0 to a far-from-sympathetic Michael van Gerwen, who arguably would have wiped the floor with Ted anyway on current form.

During the match we were told by the commentators that Ted had “sinus problems” and something wrong with his left eye, which was obvious to see AFTER he had rubbed it into blind submission.

On Twitter later Ted said he had “flu” and then in his official statement made by his manager the next morning we were told he had a “severe chest infection”. We have just got to hope he can pull through and return to provide that calibre of entertainment again.

post note: we are now being given diabetes and a possible minor stroke as causes of Ted’s embarrassment. 

Basically the official line is that Ted was ill, not blotto. Choose one of the multiple-choice ailments above, accept it, and move on we are being told.

The statement is below and you can judge Ted’s performance for yourself on YouTube.

“About 3 hours before the game Ted complained of feeling dizzy and light headed.”

“He said that as he started his walk on his legs went like jelly and he felt as weak as a kitten. Ted’s infection had put pressure on all his senses, most particularly his balance and eye-sight as he could barely see out of his left eye.”

“Ted wanted nothing more than to play, especially after finding some form the day before and is absolutely gutted as he feels he’s let everyone down who has supported him.”

“Ted thought finishing the game was the right thing to do, so instead of retiring he saw the game out. Ted would personally like to thank all his fans for their wonderful comments of support.”

What I saw with my own two eyes that are in my head is somebody who could conceivably have been under the weather (that part is not disputed) but was mostly definitely inebriated with something. It may have been Nurse McGroody’s Bruise Lotion or it may have been something less medicinal.

I couldn’t possibly speculate but suffice to say that it took darts a long time to recover from the boozy 70’s stereotype and Ted Hankey (regardless of the truth) might just have done for the sport what Smith & Jones did for it back in the 80’s.

It is telling that the match was not available on the Sky Player the following day and the controversy was not mentioned in any of the official PDC reports. Paddy Power refunded everybody who backed Ted (worryingly their reasoning is that Ted did not try hard enough which raises the spectre of match fixing). It is almost as though the powers that be were trying to erase those strange twenty minutes from history. Why would that be the case with a simple case of man flu I wonder?

UPDATE: like the boy who cried wolf it seems that the likes of Ted Hankey will always have a tough job convincing people of an illness when the suspicion of alcohol abounds. I still believe alcohol was involved on the night (and many previous nights) but it has come out in the wash that this was not the cause of Ted’s Grand Slam aberration.

According to his management Ted suffered Transient Ischaemic Attack (a mini stroke to the layman). It will keep Ted away from the oche for a number of weeks as he recovers and gets to grip with a lifestyle that will have to change in the wake of this episode.

The roots of the attack lie in a prognosis of diabetes, no doubt brought on by the colourful lifestyle that many darters lead. High blood pressure & cholesterol add to the mix and propel Ted into what will become his salad days.

Unsurprisingly there are still many who are cynically dubious about this news. Given that Ted looked to be in big trouble for his under-performance (accusations of severe drunkenness, suggestions of throwing the match) it would take a pretty convincing excuse to get him off the hook – with the fans & the authorities. Many are still insisting that the excuse has been manufactured to fit the crime.

Below is the latest Twitter statement from Ted’s manager Dave Stevenson. It offers a credible excuse but the controversy will rumble on and although sympathy has since flooded in Ted is still the villain in the eyes of many. The Count, self made boo-boy, probably wouldn’t want it any other way.

Dave Stevenson on Twitter – “Ted will be having 6 to 8 weeks rest, no darts at all, start again next year if given the all clear by the doc.”

“Here is what was wrong with @TedHankeyDarts last week at the GSOD. Ted had a Transient Ischaemic Attack (mini stroke). The symptoms are the face may fall on one side causing mouth or eye to droop, may not be able to raise arms due to weakness, may have slurred speech, sudden loss of vision, dizziness, balance and co-ordination problems.”

“These are some of the things Ted was going through and yet still managed to complete the game. Ted would like to say a huge thank you for the kind comments he has received.”

“He’ll have to change his lifestyle, it all came out during the tests and it’s now just a matter of looking after him.”

“He was starting to play well, he got beat by Thornton but he had chances to be four-nil up there and he then won against Beaton. Ted’s a quality player. What Van Gerwen’s done this week, he could have beaten Ted without what happened but we’ll never know.”

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