This is the first of my new quarterly column I will be doing for The Sports Lowdown and I hope to give you an insight into the sport I love and I know many of you love. Along the way, I will talk about my life as a darts player on tour and all the little things that go with it, so sit back and enjoy!!
Well, where do we start?
I guess we start at the most recent event on the darts calendar, the Bet Victor World Matchplay in Blackpool. The Matchplay is only second to the World Championship that everybody wants to win, and rightly so.
My preparations for the event were pretty much all as planned and I was certainly ready to have a good crack at it. I went into the Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom full of buzz and excitement, as the golden iconic ceiling beamed down over the arena and I was ready to go.
I generally turn up around four hours prior to my match schedule time, to allow for the last couple of hours practice, and to do the routine interviews for sky if they request them.
After the fifth leg and first interval of the previous match, PDC tournament director Tommy Cox comes to the practice room, and all the other players in the session who are practicing have to vacate the boards. We then do the bull up to determine who throws first. This can go on for ages as the three options are bull, 25 or outside. Anywhere outside the 25 counts as the same as all darts are retrieved, so no deflections from preceding darts can happen. Chizzy hits the bull, I hit 25, so then he decides to throw first, although the choice is given to throw first or second. As Keegan Brown sunk the winning double against Robert Thornton, both myself and Chizzy were given our 5 minute call. Basically the security give the number of minutes so you are aware that they will come for you after that time.
We are escorted around to the back stage by the security guys and are met by the walk on girls who bring you through to the main part of the arena and up the walk on lane past the crowd who shout and cheer for you as you walk by. Then when John McDonald has done his bit, your walk on music starts – in my case it’s Tom Hark by the Piranhas, and the camera man in front walks backwards and you follow him to the stage. At this point hands appear for high fives and knuckle touches from the crowd as the adrenaline kicks in and once on stage you applaud the crowd, and shake hands with the referee and markers. After that, it depends on whether you walk on first or second (dependant on ranking, as generally the higher ranked player walks on second) you then shake hands with the opponent or wait for them to walk on and then shake hands before the 9 practice darts. As the walk on girls leave the stage to normally a rapture of applause from the male part of the crowd, we have our last throw and then the match begins.
In all honesty I couldn’t tell you much about the match, as you are full of focus and concentration so much that it’s hard to know how it goes but you know if you are playing well or not. The buzz when things are going well is incredible. The crowd chanting for you and the whole atmosphere in general is an unbelievable feeling and it’s something every dart player should be able to experience.
Anyhow, I know at the first break I was 2-3 down and 4-6 down at the second break, but it’s only a break down, and to try to stop the panic setting in, you have to hit back ASAP after the second break, and I know I did that as it soon became 6-6, and from then, there was just one leg in it until we got to 11-11. I remember at 8-8 I think it was I missed the double to go 9-8 in front with a 97 finish, and that was my chance gone. After the winning double goes in, and 14 consecutive legs without a break, it’s difficult to not feel deflated, although it was a great match and probably one of the best first round matches in recent World Matchplay history – it was still a defeat, so not to many positives to take.
Backstage after the match, you do the relevant interviews for sky, and the radio stations and it really is tough to do at times, but still part of the job, so you have to be as professional as possible. Then back in the players area, meeting up with the guests and sponsors before heading back to the hotel to answer emails and text messages and social media stuff. Not all players do the social media stuff but I do. I feel it’s best to acknowledge the followers and supporters.
After another day or so in Blackpool, we headed back home for a couple of days break to reflect and then prepare for the next upcoming events. With it being the end of July, August is generally quiet unless you are in the top few players in the world with World Series invites, so exhibitions are on the agenda for the next few weeks.
My next PDC event is the European Tour event in Innsbruck, Austria on September 18-20, followed by a pro tour weekend in Barnsley a week later, and that is the cut off for the World Grand Prix, so I shall be aiming to take my place in the unique double start event in Dublin. Before that I have a series of exhibitions to keep me busy in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany and a couple in England too.
I will be attending the Granite City Open in Aberdeen, of which my sponsor CP Cases (Scotland) Ltd are helping to sponsor the event, and I won it last year so I will be hoping to retain it! I also have a soft tip small event to compete in and do an exhibition in soft tip so that will be interesting. I will certainly do an update in my next quarterly column, so until then keep the arrows straight, and good luck.
Jamie ‘Jabba’ Caven
You can follow Jamie on Twitter @jabba180 for the latest news on Jamie in the darting world and please also take a look at his website www.jamiecaven.co.uk where you can find the latest on his Darts Academy and keep up to date with the exhibitions that Jamie will feature in, as well as heading over to take a look at his shop with goods such as official match shirts, darts and flights all available.
Keep an eye out for Jamie’s next column later in the year where his preparations for the World’s will be well underway and don’t forget to follow @TheSportLowdown on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!