Bruce Spendley - A Tribute

January 25 2013

PDC Tournament Director Tommy Cox has paid tribute to referee Bruce Spendley, who retired following the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.

Spendley ended over 30 years of service as a referee when he took charge of the second half of the World Championship final between Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace on New Year's Day.

He was also given a rousing farewell by fellow PDC officials and Chairman Barry Hearn ahead of the final with a presentation on stage, and was subsequently inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame - joining fellow referee Freddie Williams - at the PDC Awards Dinner earlier this month.

Click here to see our special Bruce Spendley Photo Gallery

PDC Tournament Director Tommy Cox, writing in the official Ladbrokes World Darts Championship programme, paid the following tribute to Spendley:
Bruce Spendley is a face and voice synonymous with televised darts since the first Embassy World Championship in 1978, won by Leighton Rees.

Along with fellow County Durham man Sid Dowson and his Essex-based colleague Freddie Williams, Bruce developed the style of calling with big 180s, the curt 100's and the terms "Game on" and "Game-shot and the match" which are so common now that they have become part of the English language.

As the game developed on television then so did the individual styles of those concerned, and their intonations were tailored to their individual strengths so that their performances appeared effortless.

They certainly were not that though, and many hours of practice and effort went into what looked seamless and natural on television.

Bruce went on to officiate at every World Darts Championship until his last Lakeside in 1993 when a sea change was being driven by commercial interests in the game and the WDC was formed.

This in turn meant that Bruce and Freddie had their own decisions to make about their futures.

It was not an easy decision for them to make given their long service and emotional ties to the BDO, but in reality I didn't have to try very hard to persuade them to join the revolution - and how glad I am that they did!

Bruce's performances over the years have been almost faultless, which is an incredible fact when the pressure under which he has operated is never less than intense.

Any mistake in calling inevitably brings a chorus of derision from the live audience - and the mickey-taking from friends and family, not to mention fellow officials, is certainly something to be avoided.

It can sometimes be forgotten by the watching audience that real time mathematics allied to darts knowledge is encapsulated in the role of the referee.

Add to the mix the pressure to get things right, the need to do things quickly and the focus required for every single shot and you have the full extent of the job that Bruce has done so successfully for many years.

It shouldn't be forgotten that the markers on stage are only allowed to mark up the scores that the referees call, so he is up there in full control and that is a very heavy responsibility.

Bruce has many attributes and I know for a fact that he is the favourite referee of many of the players for his accuracy and calmness on stage, but if I had to choose his main strength then I would say that his clarity of voice holds sway.

All of the other referees, whilst having their own attributes, will acknowledge that Bruce's voice is the clearest of them all.

Although I can happily say that he will still continue to officiate in some of our non-televise events next year, I join my colleagues in wishing Bruce a happy and full retirement from the stage with his wife and family.

Fittingly, Bruce's last televised event will be the refereeing of the second half of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship final on New Year's Day as he brings the curtain down on both this great tournament and a great career.

Click here to see our special Bruce Spendley Photo Gallery

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