Dave Clark insists he made the ‘right decision’ to retire from TV broadcasting at Sky Sports

Dave Clark insists it was the right time to retire from presenting at Sky Sports after the coronavirus pandemic struck. The legendary sports broadcaster has also hailed his successor, Emma Paton.

Clark fronted Sky Sports’ coverage for almost two decades after succeeding Jeff Stelling in 2002.

He stepped away from his role fronting the darts coverage earlier this year to spend more time with his family as he continues to live with Parkinson’s disease.

The proud Yorkshireman was diagnosed with the chronic degenerative condition Parkinson’s 10 years ago, and said he wanted to bring his 22-year career with Sky to an end while he can still do the job.

There were times I couldn’t write the scores down with my right hand so I taught myself to write left-handed.

Dave Clark

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It’s been an AMAZING journey, but now it’s time to bow out of @SkySportsDarts
22 years on Sky, nearly 10 years with #Parkinsons
Brilliant memories, brilliant people.
Just stopping doing the live darts .. NOT giving up on life. 100% my decision x pic.twitter.com/kJFEYNp4B2

“It was getting harder to broadcast and stay hiding my symptoms,” he told Sky Sports. “At the World Championships last year, on a couple of occasions I had to jab my hand down the side of the seat to stop myself shaking and sometimes the make-up lady would have to do the buttons up on the shirt. There were times I couldn’t write the scores down with my right hand so I taught myself to write left-handed.

“Then Covid struck and I thought, my time’s limited so do I want to do darts in front of an empty hall? Not really. Do I want to get swab tested every other day? Not really. Was it the darts I (once) knew? Not really. So, the time was right and sort of worlds collided and everything seemed right to hand it on. I don’t regret that decision. I’ll miss it at Christmas but it was the right decision at the right time.

“I spoke to Rory Hopkins (darts producer) and I spoke to my family as well. I spoke to a few people and decided that I was going to make the announcement on my own terms with that tweet I sent out and it was a perfect way to do it.

“The response I got was incredible. I got 5,000 messages from people, amazing! I didn’t realise the impact I had on people who have chronic illnesses and Parkinson’s and how they thought of what I’ve done, especially managing nearly 10 years of live sport. I was inspiring a lot of people to carry on and keep fighting. The messages I’ve had, particularly from people with Parkinson’s really affected me, but made me feel good.”

Well that was fun! A top night at the arraz 🎯🎯🎯 until next time @SkySportsDarts ☺️ pic.twitter.com/iM7WncIS1h

Bruce Springsteen’s biggest fan has been keeping busy. In September, he walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall in his #MarchForACure for Parkinson’s, raising over £40,000.

Clarky admits he hasn’t been watching a lot of darts but says he’ll be watching this Christmas, “because Christmas is the darts, isn’t it?” He has also praised the rest of the team and his successor, Emma Paton.

He said: “It wasn’t going to be easy getting someone to take over the darts because I’ve done it for 20 years, but they’re doing a great job. Missing Rod Studd’s commentary, but he’ll be back in the near future. A great little team and I wish them the best of luck for the World Championship. It’s a hell of a slog, 28 sessions of darts. Look after yourself, keep fit and you’ll be fine.

“Emma Paton is really good. She obviously knows her sport. She’s enthusiastic and she’s doing a great job. It’s a long learning process but she’ll be great.”

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Clark, who was sitting in his office at home, pulled out a photo of himself in the Sky Sports studio sitting alongside Eric Bristow, Rod Harrington and Wayne Mardle. “I always have it there, look at it and remember the good times. That’s a great photo.

“At the time, they were one of the best sets of sports panellists. Eric was brutal, players would always listen to what he said and always wanted to know what he said because he was honest. Rod Harrington sometimes toed the PDC line but occasionally was very crystal with the players and brilliant. And Wayne is one of the best analysts of darts there is. He can spot the slightest change in throw.

“Eric used to say ‘Rod, you’re talking rubbish’, and Rod would say, ‘no, you’re talking rubbish’ and Wayne used to be the peacemaker.”

You won’t miss a dart this Christmas thanks to the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel which returns from December 15 until January 4 for every session from the World Darts Championship, including the final on Sunday, January 3. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts

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