Huw Ware has refereed all of the top darts professionals over the last couple of years, including the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price.
He was also involved in three of the five matches at the Motorpoint Arena in early 2020, when the Premier League came to Cardiff.
The man from Barry made history by becoming the youngest ever televised darts referee at the age of 18 at the BDO World Championship in 2012.
The 27-year-old explained how his journey began when he still played the sport.
“When I was playing for Glamorgan Youth, we had a friendly match against the Glamorgan Seniors and the regular caller didn’t turn up,” he said.
“They were looking around and thought, ‘you can mark, you can do that’. I went ‘yeah sure, I’ll do it’.
“I was only going to go on for three or four matches, but I ended up doing the vast majority of the day. I did it without mistakes – it was good.”
Following the initial success, Ware accepted an offer to do county matches regularly. A couple of years went by and he made his debut at the BDO Winmau World Masters after the BDO had shown their interest in having him on board.
The result meant making his television debut. Ware was incredibly surprised by the volume of the crowd that day.
“I was very nervous before my first Lakeside because I’d never actually been to the Lakeside World Championships before I made my debut,” Ware said.
“I’d been to the Lakeside before, but never to the worlds. My first day there I was going on stage. I remember the Lakeside being so loud and being surprised to how loud it was.
“When I used to watch it on TV, I always thought it came across quite quiet. When you went there, they kind of blew the roof off the place.
“It was very low ceiling anyway. Low ceiling and a sold-out crowd of about 1200 on that first opening Saturday afternoon session. I remember thinking ‘wow’.
“I was really nervous for that. And also it was my first time under that kind of intense TV lighting.”
Despite being an experienced referee on stage and having moved from the BDO to the PDC, the Welshman believes he is still learning every day.
Most recently, he was involved in the hectic schedule of the UK Open, which took place at the start of March.
“I did the Friday evening shift on the main stage, which is very physically and mentally demanding. You’re doing all four matches in a session on one stage.
“Normally there’s four referees there. You would do one match in a session. To do all four – I think the UK Open evening session on that Friday is the only shift in the entire calendar year that is like that for the ref.
“I did that a couple of weeks ago for the first time. Even now, I came off feeling that was a bit of a learning curve. The last game I did was Peter Wright against Dave Chisnall. I was out on my feet.”
In February 2014, Ware came out as gay, having already been heavily involved in the sport for a couple of years.
He is the PDC LGBT+ ambassador and has been thrilled with what the sport has done to help tackle these issues recently.
In 2018, the PDC supported Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces for the first time at the bwin Grand Slam of Darts, and has continued the theme with The Players Championship Finals.
“The sport has completely embraced it. Matchroom Chief Executive, Matt Porter, came along to a Rainbow Laces Summit back in 2018 when we were thinking about doing this for the first time.
“He was really keen to get on board, he was really keen to support in anyway that he and the PDC can. That support is valuable. If you don’t have the support from your higher-up, it can be very difficult.
“We’ve been quite fortunate that there has been a televised major tournament – The Players Championship Finals – that goes on in that two-week period of Rainbow Laces visibility on television.
“More often than not it has always been on that first weekend. Darts has been one of the first sports to celebrate Rainbow Laces over the last few years, just courtesy that they’ve got a major tournament on in that first weekend.
“That’s really good. At the last Players Championship Finals, the uptake for Rainbow Laces badges and Rainbow Laces had never been higher.
“There is a growing confidence that this is the right thing to do. I think it is the right thing to do because sometimes it can’t be easy to be openly gay in sport, full stop.”
Ware has been involved in several fantastic matches. When asked what his favourite one to date was, he mentioned James Wade against Darren Webster at the 2019 German Darts Championship.
“James Wade hit a nine-darter in that game, but the standard from both of them was absolutely sensational. I think James’ end average was like 106. Darren’s was like 105.
“I might be a bit off with that, but I think it was around that area, maybe even higher. It was 6-5 and it was just a quality game from start to finish, with the nine-darter thrown in as well.
“I just remember thinking, ‘a darts match doesn’t get much better than that in terms of standard’”.
Ware is now hoping to be involved in the Premier League this year, which kicks off this Monday behind closed doors in Milton Keynes. He is still unsure whether he will have to make that drive across the M4.