I’m delighted to say that I am joined by the two time back-to-back World champion Gary Anderson for an exclusive interview. The Flying Scotsman enjoyed back-to-back World title wins in 2015 & 2016 with wins over Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis in both finals. The Scot nearly made it three times in succession but narrowly missed out to Michael van Gerwen in the 2017 final. Anderson has been in phenomenal form over the last three years as he sits second in the PDC order of merit behind Michael van Gerwen, the 46-year old Scot had a tremendous 2016 as he reached the Semi-Finals of the World Matchplay, the Final of the World Grand Prix, and of course he reached his third World Championship final in succession. In the World Series events, Anderson had huge success as he won three out of the five events played. The Scot enjoyed victories in Dubai, Auckland and Shanghai.
First of all, thanks for joining me Gary. You have had a tremendous last three years rising to number two in the World, at what point did things start to click for you ?
I think it was after the birth of my son Tai. He gave me a new outlook on life and put darts into perspective. I relaxed a bit more and the results flowed. “
After you were the reigning World Champion in 2015 & 2016, did you feel any added pressure going into tournaments or did you just treat them like any other game ?
” You try and treat them just the same, but it is different. You are a bit more of a target from other players but especially the media, you need to do far more interviews and that distracts you. “
Obviously you have quite a team now with Tommy Gilmour, blending youth with experience with the recent additions Ian White and Chris Quantock. How is it spending time with all of the team and how far do you think the likes of Chris Dobey, Adam Hunt and Chris Quantock can go ?
” They can go all the way, or they wouldn’t have been signed. They all have so much talent and potential it’s scary. What I love about them all is their attitude and clean living. They’ve got big futures. We’re a really close team at Dunvegan Enterprises- Tommy and Stephanie are brilliant at looking after us and if any of the boys (myself included) need anything at all we just ring them and it’s sorted. “
With the World Matchplay just around the corner, just how desperate are you to win the Matchplay after making two semi-finals? Do you prefer the format ?
” I must admit it’s one I’d finally like to win. I must be the only Scot who doesn’t enjoy his visits to Blackpool in the summer! Seriously though, I need to improve my record there. The format suits me so there’s no reason why I can’t win it. “
After lots of success in the World Series events last year, just how much do you enjoy playing in them and travelling all over the globe ?
” I’m not a great traveler, it’s exhausting, but I loved every minute of it- what an opportunity to see the World. When you win a couple like I did it’s a wonderful experience. The travelling can really affect you during the year but the World Series has been an excellent addition to the calendar. Rachel and Tai also joined me on parts of the World Series so that’s a fantastic opportunity for Tai to say he was in China and the opening of Shanghai Disney at two years old. “
Apart from the World Championship, what is your favourite tournament on the calendar ?
” I’ve always enjoyed the Grand Slam. It’s a nice format and you can afford to lose an early match and still stay in the tournament! “
You have had quite a lot of success in the floor events, just how different are these to playing in TV stage events ?
” They are actually a lot more difficult to win that the TV events. The floor events are the greatest form guide in the sport. When a player starts to win at weekends, you know they are going to go all the way. “
You recently appeared at the launch of the Unicorn Glasgow Darts academy, just how bright is the future looking for these youngsters ?
” The opportunities now for young players is like night and day compared to how it was when I started. These kids can get so much experience in youth tournaments and if they stay dedicated can be superstars. This has been happening in Holland since Raymond van Barneveld started winning world titles – we are catching up now “
How does you feel the overall attitude towards darts is in Scotland ?
It’s great, Darts is becoming a past time for all ages now. There are 2 youth Academies in Glasgow that I’m associated with- The Gary Anderson Academy at Bannerman High School which they set up a few years ago as a lunchtime/after school club. They have a waiting list it’s so popular. The Head teacher wasn’t keen on the idea but she’s now a 100% on-board with it as she has seen visible differences in behavior and maths skills.
There is also the Glasgow Unicorn Youth Darts Academy which I launched with some of the other Unicorn players in March. This is the serious kids who are hoping to knock MvG and I off our spots. What talent from the 8 year olds to the 18 year olds. This has been fantastic to The Academy is based at the Tigers Den at Ashfield Stadium, Possil park is a very deprived area and the uptake shows that the kids are crying out for something to do other than sit at home in front of the TV. Every week so far has seen increased numbers.
The kids are given a set of rules when they sign up- dress code, code of conduct etc. and you can see already a change in behavior- they all come in and say hello to each other, shake hands with their opponents before and after they play, it’s very social. They were offered a chance to buy “Team” polo shirts which most of the kids have done so already. They are also progressing each week with both their accuracy of throw and their numerical skills.
I’m really proud to be associated with both these academies. It does mean the kids are better younger as they don’t need to wait until they’re old enough to go to the pub now. “
As a youngster, what got you into playing Darts? Did you have a darting hero when growing up?
” I remember my dad watching Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson on World of Sport on TV and I loved it, the atmosphere, everything. Jocky was my hero and then Phil Taylor. “
There was a lot of talk near the end of last season about the possibility of darts being in the Olympics. What are your thoughts on this?
” Don’t get me wrong, I’d love darts to make the Olympics. But I doubt it will happen because there’s so much snobbery towards darts. “
You have always had a natural ability, is it true that the first three darts you ever threw you hit a 140?
” Yes that’s true. There’s been times when I’ve not be able to hit one since when I really needed to. “
You met your partner Rachel through darts didn’t you, is she a decent player as well?
” Yes she’s very decent. But don’t tell her that! “
Please explain how you felt when the D12 went in to win your first World title?
” I’ve got to be truthful and say I can’t really remember. It’s a bit of a dream. Probably a bit of relief as well. I just wanted to turn round and shake Phil’s hand and try and take as much of it all in as I could. “
Do you have any targets/ambitions for the rest of 2017, or do you just take every match as it comes?
” I know it’s a cliche, but I live life a day at a time. It would be nice to pick up a new major like a Matchplay. But I’d love the Worlds back, just to annoy Michael a bit more (and who doesn’t want to be 3 Time Champ) “
How do you feel playing in your home country the week on the final night of the group phase ?
” There’s a wee bit of pressure off of me now that I know I’m qualified for the O2, but I take every game as it comes so there is no relaxing. I go to win. “
How different is the atmosphere in Scotland and is it a boost for you ?
” Playing at home is fantastic. The noise levels are amazing but the fans are all on my side . I do get a bit more nervous in Scotland for this reason though. “
How do you feel your chances are against MVG, do you feel playing against the best player in the world will be a good test ?
” A test of what? It’s not like I’ve never played Michael before, and beaten him!!! I’m World No2 and Double World Champion, Double PL winner….
Michael is a superb player, but I’m not too bad myself. “
Did your tournament win at Players Championship 10 give you confidence?
” I do like to win a Players Championship and I had a great time in Wigan. “
Thanks to Gary for taking time to join me for this interview.