Dave Clark announced yesterday that he is stepping down from his role as the presenter of Sky Sports’ darts coverage after almost two decades at the helm.
Having originally covered the Olympics and the World Cup as a radio broadcaster in the 1990’s, Clark joined Sky Sports and has enjoyed 22 years with the company – fronting darts’ coverage since succeeding Jeff Stelling in 2002.
The Bradford-born broadcaster has been the face of the sport across the last two decades and has been a consistent presence throughout the most iconic darting moments, earning him an induction into the PDC’s Hall of Fame in January 2018.
The Yorkshireman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011 and despite being told by a specialist that he would only be able to present live sport for the next two or three years, he’s defied the odds and remained at the pinnacle of his profession.
Clark did not reveal his diagnosis until 2013 and he’s since raised over £500,000 for Parkinson’s UK and has been an incredible ambassador and inspiration for those who have been affected by the insidious disease.
Announcing the news on Sunday evening, Clark said: “It’s been an amazing journey, 22 years performing on Sky Sports, nearly 10 years with a chronic degenerative neurological condition. Quite an innings, doing the best job in the world.
“When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a ‘specialist’ said I’d only be able to present live sport for two or three more years. Nearly a decade after that diagnosis, I can still present live television, on stage, in front of 10,000 people.
“I’ve decided I want to stop now, still in control, still able to do the job, still able to enjoy it. I recently watched a Muhammad Ali documentary on Sky and was reminded of the great man’s 1980 clash with Larry Holmes. Ali was a shell of his former self.
“Early onset Parkinson’s meant he had no reflexes, no speed, no punch. Nothing, except his pride and the crowd chanting, ‘Ali! Ali!’. Finally, after 10 rounds, Angelo Dundee, Ali’s trainer, stopped the carnage, waving the towel. I don’t want that to be me.
“The last thing I want is for someone to throw in the towel for me or for fans to feel uncomfortable or sorry for me as my Parkinson’s progresses. Lockdown has given us all a lot of time to think, on occasions too much time, but it’s given me time to sort out my priorities. Family comes first.
“I’m keen to spend more days with my wife and two sons. Time is a real luxury that so many have been denied during this difficult period. I’m not giving up on life, just stopping doing the darts. I intend to keep busy, writing a book about my time presenting during some of the sport’s greatest years.
“I’m hoping to stay involved in broadcasting in some capacity and will continue to raise awareness of Parkinson’s and fundraising to find a cure through my chosen charity Parkinson’s UK. Sky have been very supportive over the years, it’s 100% my decision to check out of the darts.
“I’m really proud to have launched Sky Sports News, anchored the darts throughout its meteoric rise and presented the boxing, including Ricky Hatton’s biggest fights, some of Carl Froch’s memorable nights and Anthony Joshua’s pro debut.
“It’s been a fabulous journey with some incredible people. It’s not the end, just the start of the next chapter in my life. Thanks for your support over the years. Let’s have a beer sometime.”
There are no superlatives that can do Dave Clark justice. His professionalism, warmth and spirit has been synonymous with Sky Sports’ coverage and he was inundated with messages of support following yesterday’s announcement, testament to the regard in which he’s held.
I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Dave at a few darts events over recent years and I was sat next to him on a flight back from Rotterdam following last year’s Premier League double-header.
He took a real interest in my writing, my career and gave me warm words of encouragement. It may only seem like a small gesture, but it meant a great deal to me and he didn’t need to do it. That typifies his class as a human being.
As well as being a legendary broadcaster, Dave is an inspiration to so many, and it’s a measure of the man that he is stepping away on his own terms. He leaves an almost impossible void to fill, but we all wish him every happiness in his next chapter – nobody deserves it more.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC