One thing stands out in 'Golden Girl', Trina Gulliver's pacy and at times racy life story; the lass hurled herself at a career in darts with a total Olympian ideal. Trina craved the pure glory and the self fulfilment that becoming a champion darter would bring. This attitude is admirable; in my experience the male greats, from Alan Evans down to Phil Taylor, were always carefully watching the cash flow as well as the gong collection. They were as proud as anyone in their achievements, but were helped as television and sponsorship cash came flowing in to bulk up the rewards of the early exhibition circuit and money races.
Trina makes plangent pleas for more money in the ladies' game but in her heart I reckon she knows the brutal truth; the men are at each other's throats on the oche day in day out and the standard and entertainment value have gone through the roof. The furnace of ladies? darts is not hot enough to provide great entertainment. Now if there were 23 more Trinas on the go?
I particularly enjoyed the vivid details of our heroine's early steps in darts and woodwork. At age two somebody stood her on a stool in her parents' pub and she let fly at a board. By the age of six she was fascinated by real hammers and nails when other girls were preening Barbies. In her early teens she was making greenhouses and chairs from gash bits of plywood. And what did this practical hand-arm dexterity do? Same as it did for toilet chain handle maker Phil Taylor and master joiner John Lowe spawned a rare talent for controlling tungsten. Trina did football and sprinting, and netball and javelin to county level, at school, but admits openly that she had little time for books.
Now it was time for another Trina talent, dogged determination. She got onto a work experience course with a building firm and spent hours tea-making and doing 'miles of priming'. At woodwork classes at college she got ribbed by some lads and clocked one bloke quite severely. After three years she qualified as a carpenter/joiner with flying colours. All this is told in jaunty style and with humour. It is very reminiscent of Bobby George's colourful account of his time as a tunnel-digger, builder and bouncer in his book. For instance, Trina is allergic to certain kinds of wood and comes out in rashes when handling it. Nice career choice, love!
The fortitude is highlighted by her account of playing darts, working 12-hour shifts humping and working wood and caring for her partner Gully when he got Guillain-Barre syndrome and had to be lifted about the house. The disease struck when Trina was only 19 and Gully was still in a wheelchair on her 21st birthday.
From 1988 Trina was a top darter. She played county darts for Warwickshire and was capped by England in 1994. But that was not enough. She played Super League darts against men and won her first four matches. Then it was off on the road with Kevin Painter and Martin Fitzmaurice on the 'Beauties and the Beast Tour' (Answers on a postcard!) with Trina knocking up the stage setting in her shed!
And did she have fun while conquering the world of women's darts. At her wedding to Gully in 1994, her dad took his false teeth out before making his speech 'in case they fall out when I get emotional'. And accounts of boozy nights with other top lady players make lively reading. One mammoth session on 'Orgasms' (Cointreau, Baileys and Tia Maria! even Jocky would have poured that down the netty) matches any of the great beerfest stories of the men's game in the 1980s.
Trina's account of her seven Ladies World Championship wins is fascinating as is her pride in coming 12th out of 20 male players in the 2001 Pentathlon. And even her beef against all the money and publicity the blokes get is leavened with humour. At the 2001 Lakeside world championship a female streaker got more publicity than she did as the champ and she took it on the chin.
That's darts/show biz.
Overall, Golden Girl is a funny, inspiring look at a classy sassy lassie in a bloke's world. We all appreciate her talent, and after this read, I for one, really dig her style.
Sid Waddell - January 2008
Trina Gulliver is, without doubt, the best female dart player the World has ever seen and it is fitting that the first autobiography from a female dart player is hers. Trina has won the Ladies World Darts Champions held annually at the Lakeside, Frimley Green, since it first was conceived in 2001; a total of seven consecutive wins. Trina begins her eighth defence of the title in January 2008, a victory here will equal Phil Taylor's greatest consecutive World Championship wins of eight.
Trina Gulliver, born Catrina Elizabeth Jones, entered this world on 30th November 1969. The daughter of Muriel and Geoff Jones and one of five children. Her early school days seemed to be pure hate as she struggled with academic work but excelled at sports. A self confessed tomboy sees Trina eventually gaining a placement at Mid-Warwickshire College in Leamington Spa one day a week to undertake a general building course. In her last year of school, pupils had the option of going on work experience placements and with a little help from her brother Trina gained a placement at 'Silverstone's Builders'. After leaving school Trina continued working for Silverstone's and went to college to gain a qualification from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). (A truly hard pursuit as she was the only girl within the group). This was no easy ride but as you will read in her book, she manages to overcome many adversities.
At the early age of sixteen Trina first met her future husband Paul known by friends as 'Gully'. Although it would be over a year before she asked him out! Paul and Trina eventually buy a house together but devastation arises one day after Paul is taken seriously ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome a form of Multiple Sclerosis. Paul previously a fit athletic rugby player is reduced to being nursed 24/7 for two years. By this time Trina had begun to play some serious darts. She was playing for the Warwickshire Ladies B team and later in 1988 the Ladies A team.
In 1994 Paul and Trina marry. Trina was working as a fully qualified carpenter but her regular work begins to interfere with her pursuit to gain world ranking points. With Paul's blessing Trina gives up her regular employment relying on contacts to provide her with carpentry work that she can undertake around her darting commitments. After a year it seems despite achieving a World Ranking of 10th Trina's dream of becoming No1 will not be fulfilled.
Trina at this point either had to again a sponsor or give up the professional darts circuit as she had exhausted hers and Gully's savings in her pursuit. After mailing hundreds of requests to companies for sponsorship with either little orno reply she manages to gain full support from a friend Graham Reeves of Reeves Boatbuilders purely by chance. Later she manages to gain a number of other sponsors including the World renowned Winmau Dart Board Company.
Ladies darts is still yet to see the rewards that are on offer to the men's game. It still fails to gain the TV and press coverage it surely deserves as the general standards can be on a par with their male counterparts. The costs to participate and travel are on a par with the men's game but despite this the financial awards are far from equal.
It wasn't until 2001 that the first Ladies own World Championship was conceived by the BDO. It seemed to take an announcement by Tommy Cox the PDC Tournament Director to offer a place in the PDC World Darts Championship to a lady dart player to prompt the BDO to take action. The top eight ranked ladies players were invited to battle it out for a place in the Championships. Although Trina initially agreed to take part she wanted to consult the BDO first. As we have come to expect from this organisation they were not happy and threatened any lady that took part would lose their ranking points for the year! Trina could not afford to lose her the points therefore didn't accept Tommy Cox's offer.
The route to success is far from easy for Trina and after the third defence of her World Title she and Paul separate and eventually divorce. The long time spent away from her husband had taken its toll and it was time to move on.
The book is far from a blow by blow encounter of games and matches but it does cover many of Trina's wins as well as her losses. There are many funny extracts including dares from darting exhibitions to the marriage of Crissy Howart and Peter Manley. Above all this is not a book just aimed at the ladies. It shows the true difficulties to overcome to pursue a dream. Trina gives a very open account of her feelings of events that have taken place in her life from the good the bad and the ugly.
‘Chuffin hell’ Trina it was a good read, you know what I mean!