The Muffin Man - Steve Hine
Stephen "Steve" Hine (born 20 April 1969 from Coventry) is an English professional darts player who plays in British Darts Organisation and PDC events. He works as a baker and consequently he is nicknamed The Muffin Man. He is well known for bringing muffins and tossing them to the crowd during his walk-on.
Known and adored for his walk-on antics, in which he donned an apron and hat while handing out muffins to eager fans, Steve Hine quickly established himself as a fan favourite within the PDC. Working as a baker while playing darts professionally, Steve quickly adopted the nickname ‘The Muffin Man’, appealing to fans who swarmed the isle at televised tournaments, hoping to receive some baked goods!
Steve started out playing darts at just 16 years old, when the price of the pool table down his local pub was raised from 30p to 50p! “There was no one on the dartboard”, he told me, “so I went on there instead”. Putting in many hours of practice, his efforts finally paid off as after just two months, he was asked to join the pub’s dart team. With match experience now adding to his already developing ability, “it went from there” for Steve, as he laid the groundwork to what was the beginning of a successful career within the sport.
His greatest achievement in darts was “winning my PDC title”, as he defeated many legends of the game to claim his maiden title victory as a PDC professional. Coming into the 2005 UK Open North East regional qualifiers, Steve was unseeded, and knew that to win, he’d be facing some of the very best in the world right from the first round. This proved true, as he faced off against Dutch legend Roland Scholten, squeezing through a last leg decider to claim a 5-4 victory. An equally difficult task in the L32, as he claimed a big win over ‘The Bull’ Terry Jenkins, winning 5-2 and booking his place in the L16. He was drawn to face former World Championship semi-finalist Dennis Smith, registering a huge 5-1 win to make it through to the quarter finals. Another last-leg decider against Jamie Harvey, and yet Steve again progressed, with a strong performance to put himself just two wins away from the title. The format changed to set play from the semi-finals, which Steve adapted to quickly in defeating the (at the time) young talent James Wade, booking his place in the final. A tough task ensued against ‘The Limestone Cowboy’, and yet Steve was well up to the task, defeating him in straight sets to claim a 2-0 win, and his first PDC title!
For Steve, there were a few moments that proved defining in his darts career to date. Qualifying for the World Championship for the first time helped him understand fully the ability and potential within himself, which ultimately led to further success within the sport. Another defining moment was, 4 years after his World Championship debut, winning his first game, defeating the 32nd seed Roland Scholten in the first round, before falling to a straight sets loss against Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor in the second round. Making the quarter-final of the UK Open in 2007 further established him as a top professional, defeating Alan Tabern, Adrian Gray and Colin Monk on his way to his best performance in a televised tournament, and giving him the confidence to push on and continue to develop as a player, in order to secure his first televised tournament win. Ultimately though, it’s the fact he’s “completed it all” that he feels defines him - he’s played in nearly every major tournament there is to play in, establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with, back when he was on the circuit.
For the future, Steve has very clear aspirations. “Firstly”, he began, “[I] want to get my Tour Card back, and then keep it”. While acknowledging this will be a difficult task, he has confidence within his own ability, stating that he will retain his Tour Card, once won, by “making TV events again, and winning another Pro Tour”. While a seasoned veteran of the game, we have seen the likes of Peter Wright and Wayne Warren win major titles - could Steve’s first televised title come in 2021? Time will tell!
Thank you to Steve for taking time to talk to me about his career to date, as well as his aspirations with his new sponsor, Loxley Darts. Keep an eye out, as in the coming weeks I will be taking a closer look at the shirt Steve will be wearing, as he looks to earn back his Tour Card!
Author - Joe Reid