Paddy Power: It’s the third year of the Champions League of Darts. You were runner up last year. How did you find the tournament?
Gary Anderson: Look, every tournament’s good now. This one is the top eight players in the world, so it’s even harder than others. These boys can all play. I lost out to Mensur last year so I’ll hopefully go one better this year.
The format of the competition doesn’t affect me. You go out to win every game anyway so you just concentrate on what’s in front of you and give it a good go.
It’s good that it’s on the BBC. If we could get onto every TV I think it’s good because years ago darts used to be on a lot but people might’ve lost track of all the dart players. They’d know the BDO players because that’s on the BBC every year but they’ve never seen the PDC players, so it gives everyone, even the kids, a chance to see dart players on telly.
PP: You won the World Matchplay for the first time in your career this summer, how did that feel for you as it’s one of the most historic tournaments in the Darts calendar?
GA: I never thought it would happen because it’s well documented that the Matchplay is not one of my favourite tournaments. But, it was great to win it. I played well, especially with a new set of darts.
I played with my old darts against Stephen Bunting in the first round and then Unicorn supplied me with new ones. I played with them for the rest of the tournament and the nine-darter I hit was sweet.
I fancied it straight away with the new darts.
I even said before I played Joe Cullen in the quarter-finals ‘I might not win the match, but I’m hitting a nine-darter tonight’ and I did it. Ìt was good to finally lift the trophy, and even get to the final of the Matchplay was an achievement.
PP: There’s some irony in the Matchplay trophy being named after Phil Taylor now, given that you beat him to win your first World title?
GA: I know! I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing mind you. We were all happy when he retired, but he’s sitting on my mantelpiece and I’ve still got to look at his bloody name! But, it was really great to win it and it doesn’t matter what happens now in history, I was the first one to win the Phil Taylor trophy.
PP: Do you like looking back at what you’ve achieved in the sport? Does the history-making part of it matter to you?
GA: Not really. You could ask me what tournaments I’ve won and I couldn’t tell you. Obviously, I know I’ve won the World Championship twice, the Premier League twice, the UK Open and the Matchplay, but as for the other ones – I don’t know at all.
Records for hitting 180, stuff like that, I haven’t a clue.
However, it was nice when somebody told me I’m only the third player in history to win the Triple Crown (World Championship, Premier League and World Matchplay) along Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen. That something I can chat about with my kids when they get a bit older.
PP: You took home an extra £45,000 for hitting the nine-darter in Blackpool, do you wait for that total to add up before having a cut at it?
GA: I never knew what the prize money was for the nine-darter in Blackpool before I hit it. Ìt wasn’t until afterwards when someone told me and I said ‘Ya, right’ and then I found out they were telling the truth!
It was nice to hit it, I’ll tell you that. Nine-darters are great when you hit them, but it’s still only one leg.
To win a match hitting one is icing on the cake, but nine times out of 10 you lose the match after hitting one. That’s always in the back of your mind when you do it. It was fantastic to hit that one though and then win Blackpool on top of it. When you added the prize money together it was quite a few coffees, I’ll put it to you that way.
PP: You’ve had a hectic travel schedule lately, with trips to Australia and New Zealand last month. Does that take it out of you?
GA: It does and it takes a lot out of all the boys on tour. You saw Michael van Gerwen lose to the Irish boy Willie O’Connor recently, so don’t think the travelling doesn’t matter. If you are old or young, that jet lag knocks you for six. From January, right the way through until now, it’s been chaos. To give you an example, before the Matchplay, it was Las Vegas to Shanghai, then home for three days and onto Blackpool for ten days.
I got out of the venue about 1am to where we were staying to pack the suitcases and we were gone by 5am in the morning. Rachel drove the kids home and I went straight to the airport and flew to New Zealand.
I won’t lie, I was in cuckoo land for a few days after that.
If I get a week off, I won’t look at a dartboard. I spend time with my family and kids, that’s the way I am now. I’m not being big-headed or anything, I’ve played darts for a long time and if I can’t sort my game out for three or four hours on the practice board on the day that I’m playing, then it’s time for me to take up fishing or something.
PP: You’ve won two Majors this year, the UK Open and the Matchplay, what has that done for your confidence going into the Champions League?
GA: It’s not like that for me really, I just turn up at a tournament. I`never know beforehand what’s going to happen – if I’m going to be the Gary with his head screwed on or Gary that doesn’t care. It all depends, it’s like any normal job people do. You can wake up in the morning and go, ‘I don’t want to do this today’.
That’s exactly the same for a sportsperson, anyone that says they’ve never woke up hating work for a day are liars. There’s always days that you can’t be bothered. So until I get to the venue and see how my darts are going, I’ve not got a clue what’s going to happen.