"Wolfie" celebrates his 60. Birthday
Martin "Wolfie" Adams will celebrate his 60. birthday on 4. June. I can imagine he'll celebrate it in style while taking part in a tournament.. And to be sure the wolves will be howling!
Adams 36 years- lasting darting career more or less started by chance. A neighbour had invited him to "inaugurate" his new board with him in a friendly match when Adams was 24. It seems the neighbour was quite impressed with the then IT expert in Lloyd's bank as he dragged him along to his dart team. A few years later - in the year of the split in darts 1992 - Adams left Lloyds bank to turn professional - a decision in which he was supported by Eric Bristow. When after the split the BDO had to look for a new captain of the English national team Adams was nominated and he stayed the team captain for 20 years till 2012. The first important tournament Adams won was the British Open in 1994, the most recent the Dutch Open in 2016. In between lay countless titles, finals, semi-finals and loads of other god placings.
In 1994 Adams not only won the British Open but for the first time took part in the BDO World Championship which then was still called "Embassy World Championship" after the main sponsor. It was the year after the split and many of the top players had left the BDO to found the WDC - now-a-days PDC. Only Bobby George decided to stay with the BDO and he certainly was the favourite to win the World Championship but he had serious problems with his injured back during the finale and the winner was Canadian John Part. Adams had already bowed out in the quarterfinals. It was not the last time Adams - a dominant player in the BDO though not as dominant as Phil Taylor in the PDC - missed out to win the biggest BDO tournament. In fact despite him taking part in the World Championship every year it took till 2007 before he managed to win the title in a thrilling match against Phil Nixon. After a clear 6:0 lead by Adams Nixon started an unbelievable comeback and levelled the match. Adams missed a few match darts but in the end somehow managed to win all three legs of the last set.
It was not the only great match Adams had been involved during a World Championship. Some years earlier he had lost 4:5 in the quarterfinals to Chris Mason - a match which is seen as one of the greatest matches in the history of the tournament. The second time when Adams won the title - 2010 - he had started his tournament with what Adams himself describes the most bizarre match he had ever taken part in. His opponent Anthony Fleet was so nervous and probably so drunk he stumbled over his own feet and was not really able to throw a dart. Adams won the final against Dave Chisnall that year who soon afterwards decided to leave the BDO and join the PDC. Adams reached the final again in 2011 and he defended his title against Dean Winstanley who not much later decided to leave the BDO and join the PDC. Well - that almost looks like a pattern.
In the years after his third World champion title Adams career was on low flame. Caused by the divorce from his wife of 34 years Sharon Adams suffered a loss of form which in the end lost him some weight and the position as a team captain of the national team. Sharon was a well-known companion in many tournaments - no other wife seemed to feel as strong with the husband on stage. Beside the divorce not much is known of Adams private life which only once before the divorce made the headlines when the couple revealed in 2010 a monastic sex ban helped Martin to win his second world title.
Despite taking part in a few PDC tournaments in 2000/2001 - 2001 he even reached the semi-final of the World Matchplay where he lost to Phil Taylor - Adams made no pretence of his repulsion of the PDC. Many dart fans reacted with a lack of understanding when Adams didn't show any interest to switch and even suspected him of being "afraid" of being not good enough and not able to keep up. From what I know I would say that is complete nonsense - there is nothing Adams is afraid of. I think Adams just felt more comfortable in the BDO and besides was successful enough which earned him a probably more than decent living. For a short period his loyalty to the BDO even made him a member of the BDO board as a players director though it turned out soon that administration is certainly not his cup of tea.
My fist live sighting of Adams on stage took place two years ago during the Winmau World Masters. Adams crisis in form was already over at the time and the player coming on stage looked confident, jovial and comfortable. He joked with the officials in a way which reminded me a lot of Phil Taylor. During the matches I watched he played impressive darts and showed a lot of clinical finishing which in my eyes is his strength. When he finally lost in the semi-finals to James Hughes he looked like a good loser. He doesn't show any signs of antics or bad sportsmanship on stage - an impression which even strengthened during my second Winmau World Masters 2015 where he again lost in the semis, this time to Larry Butler.
It looks Adams got a little bit milder with age when last year he finally accepted the invitation to take part in the Grand Slam which he had declined several times in the past. It's a pity the draw didn't bring us what everybody had hoped for - a Taylor Adams clash on stage of the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton. I've no idea what Adams feelings concerning Taylor really are. The two have met several times and according to darts database Adams lost more often than Taylor beginning 1997 with a semi-final loss to Taylor in the last News of the World which Taylor won in the end.
To be sure Adams Grand Slam appearance will not be forgotten soon - and not just because he has shown again he's a great and consistent player. Rarely has one seen a player who smiled such a lot during a tournament and who seemed to enjoy himself round-the-clock throughout all his matches. Adams really was a gain for the tournament.
By now hair and beard - which lead to the nickname "Wolfie" - are really as grey as a wolf's but so far Adams doesn't show any signs he'll turn his back on the sport soon. At his 60th Birthday he'll still be the BDO's number 2 and the WDF's number 12 - why should he stop doing what he enjoys so much when he's till so successful?
So happy birthday, Wolfie, and may the howls go on for many years to come!