Diary of a Dart Player with Andy Relf – As it’s me, my operation couldn’t go without a hitch, could it?

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Happy Christmas everyone...

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote in the paper, but I’ve been under the knife again. And as nothing is ever simple in my world, it couldn’t go without a problem, could it!

I had surgery on the shoulder of my throwing arm back in August, and from that there were issues with my wrist and elbow. I subsequently found out that during the operation, they put my arm in traction too tightly and this caused my elbow and wrist to suffer dislocations. This wasn’t picked up for a few weeks and I ended up with further MRI scans to check the damage. I’m pleased to say that at last I am now free of those problems, and that is mainly down to the great work of the guys at Hailsham Chiropractic, who finally got me back together.

The plus side of the complications was that it prevented me from playing too soon after the surgery, and now my shoulder is also pain-free, and that is the first time I’ve been in that situation for around seven years. I have never played in the PDC without an injury, so I’m really optimistic looking ahead to the 2014 season. My first foray into real competition will be in January when I try once again to gain my PDC Tour Card. I’m more determined than ever to get over the finish line this time, and really have the hunger back for playing.

I have had to alter my throw a bit since the operation.

That could be partly due to weakness and me needing to build up the strength again, but mainly that now that I have no pain, I don’t know when my arm is in the right position to throw. Before, I used to wait until it hurt, then threw the dart. Now I am getting more fluent with the action and the scoring is going superbly.

I’ll be working on the finishing aspect of my game over Christmas, and I’m confident that I’ll be ready for January.

In recent weeks I’ve got back to playing superleague, and our Tally Ho side are challenging for the title against our main rivals Lewes. Some of my games have been good and some really bad, but my confidence is coming back and

I need match practice to regain even more.

In the Heathfield League, our team from The Wheel have taken the first silverware of the season by winning the Seamer Cup against the Cross in Hand in a last leg decider.

Kristina and I ventured up to London to meet up with Justin Pipe and his wife, Claire, for a show, some dinner, and also to try out the first Soft Tip Darts Bar in London.

Soft Tip is hugely popular in Japan and America, and is played slightly differently to normal darts. The boards are all electronic, and you can play against an opponent on the other side of the world via the internet as all the machines are linked.

Kris and I beat the Pipes in a pairs match, and I was about to beat Justin in a singles match when he developed a horrific cough as I threw to finish. I know the real winner there, and there were plenty of witnesses.

I will get my revenge.

While on the subject of Justin, I’m pleased to announce that the Heathfield League will be putting on a charity exhibition evening at a venue in the Heathfield where Justin will be playing a number of players on the night, from all of the local teams.

And, who knows, I might even challenge him myself in a head-to-head at the end?

We hope to raise a good amount of money for the two chosen charities – St Mary’s School and the Sussex Air Ambulance. The event will take place on Friday May 16 2014, and who knows, there may be some other surprise guests if we are lucky on the night – I’m working on that one.

More details on how to get tickets will follow in due course.

Finally, it is soon going to be time for the Eastbourne Open Darts weekend at the Winter Garden theatre.

The event is being held over the weekend of January 25 and 26 2014, and the entry forms are available at www.wizardsportsevents.com/darts

There are no PDC competitions or county matches that weekend so it is likely that many good players will be putting in an appearance.

Well that is my little update complete. I’m off to Alexandra Palace to cheer on Pipey this week, and will have a very excited Captain Sheebo in tow – he’d better behave or Santa won’t be bringing any goodies for him!

Finally I’d like to wish the sports editor Brian Pollard all the best for his future career, as I understand he is leaving the Sussex Express.

Brian has supported me through the last few years by promoting this diary, and without him it wouldn’t be online either with readers from far and wide. I hope to be able to carry on writing next year, and it would be great if Brian got to hear of some success for me at last.

Brian replies: “Thank you, Andy, for your kind words. I can say with all honesty that one of the best decisions I ever made as sports editor was to invite you to write a regular column for the newspaper.

“Your copy has been consistently excellent – and very entertaining! Now that you have – hopefully! – shaken off the worst of your injury problems, let’s hope you can inflict some pain on your PDC opponents!

“All the very best of luck in the future, Andy, and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Kristina – and to Captain Sheebo! – and to all the readers of the Sussex Express.”