Peter Wright is through to the semi-finals of the World Matchplay in Blackpool where he’ll play Mensur Suljovic tonight for the chance to lift the Phil Taylor trophy in Sunday’s final.
We sat down with Snakebite this week to talk about his season, his flamboyant on-stage character, and his belief that that he could’ve been as good – or better – than the great darts player of them…
PP: You’re second in the Order of Merit but you’ve had a bit of an up-and-down season so far…
“Some bits have been brilliant and then there’s been diabolical stuff, but there you go, that’s darts. You’ve just got to get on with it and just ride the wave and then come back up again.
“I reckon 90 per cent of darts is about your mentality and the rest you can work on in practice.
“I’m lucky enough to have my wife Jo, she gets my head ready and while I’m having the hair done and stuff like that and the stuff painted on the side of the head. That’s my way of mentally preparing for a match. We’d talk over the match during that.”
“A switch occurs when we’re doing all the hair and I become Snakebite instead of just Peter Wright.
PP: What was it like the first time you went out with your hair done up?
“It was a bit nerve-wracking and obviously it got lots of comments off people saying complaining and making fun. Even poor old Eric Bristow turned around and said ‘stop having your hair done and just go out and play your darts’.
“But then, a couple of years later Eric tapped me on the shoulder one day and said, ‘you’re doing a brilliant job, keep it going’.”
“The criticism used to motivate me though. All the commentators used to say, ‘oh he should spend more time practising instead of having his hair done’ but I can do both.
“I’m mentally preparing during those hours. I’ve already done my practice, they didn’t realise that.”
PP: You showed your mental toughness by bouncing back from a few major final defeats to claim your first major at the UK Open in 2017. How did that victory affect you?
“It was great to get it and get over that line of just being runner-up and knowing that, yeah, I can do it. That’s just there in the back of your head a little bit when you haven’t won a major event.
“I’d want to add a second now, there’s more to come, there’s definitely more to come.”
PP: You gave up darts and then returned over a decade later. Do you ever wonder what might have been?
“When I was living down in London aged 15 and 16 and I first joined my first dart team, if I’d carried on playing then I would have been as good as Phil Taylor, but there you go.
“I didn’t do it but at least I’ve gone out and proved that I could be good enough. I’ve not even started playing yet to be honest and I’m number two in the world. I feel like there’s lots more to come.”
PP: Speaking of Phil Taylor, he’s obviously retired now. Has that affected the circuit, or you personally even?
“Personally, it’s affected me more because I give him the utmost respect with what he’s done in the sport. I will try over 150 per cent against him, where everyone else I expect to beat. I don’t approach them as I would him.
“All other players would say that as well because they know every single throw he’s going to hit something and he’s going to come back at you if you get ahead, or beat you when he sets on top.
“Michael van Gerwen’s good, Gary Anderson’s good, I’m good. Phil’s great, that’s the difference.
“There can be a tiny bit of complacency when you play others. I’ve got to try and pretend he’s there and give the same respect to the person I’m playing now. I give them respect but nowhere near as much as Phil Taylor.
“It’s weird not having him around as much. We miss his banter in the back room and stuff like that. Just Phil being Phil, miss him around the circuit.”