DARTS: OUT FOR THE COUNT
BDO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP I used to drink 13 pints before a match but fangs are different now, says Dracula
Darts Dracula Ted Hankey has unveiled a sunnier side to his vampire alter-ego - after admitting binge drinking was turning him into a monster on the oche.
Hankey, nicknamed ^The Count^ because he takes to the stage in a dark cape and fangs, sailed into the quarter-finals at the Lakeside BDO world darts with a 4-1 win over Scotland^s Ross Montgomery last night.
It was all plain sailing and no crucifixes for Hankey, who clinched the title nine years ago with a 170 checkout and a record breaking 48 maximums.
And his demolition of ^Ross the Boss^ was a far cry from the booze-fuelled controversy 12 months ago, when Hankey angrily flung a dart to the floor - one of the great taboos in darts - when he was booed and heckled by the Frimley Green crowd. The incident earned Hankey a public rebuke from BBC pundit Bobby George, who accused the Count of "playing up like a big baby" during his bad-tempered win over Andy Boulton.
And it forced him to address his staggering booze consumption - up to 13 PINTS and a couple of chasers before going on stage - which was spiralling out of control.
Hankey, 40, revealed: "I don^t drink as much as I used to - I^ve slowed my game down a bit and I feel more in control of my game because I^m more in control of myself. When you are drinking as much as I was, you can^t concentrate on the game as much as you need.
"All it took was one comment from the crowd and I was blowing my top like a bottle of pop.
"What happened last year wasn^t very pretty and I^ve apologised to everyone involved. I made a bad mistake, but I^ve learned from it and a lot of the players here have noticed that I^m more relaxed.
"I feel a lot brighter, both mentally and physically, on stage when I^m not drinking, and when I tot up the amount I was getting through, it^s not hard to see why.
"Think about it - if you^ve had 13 pints, a couple of bottles of this, a few bottles of that and a couple of shorts for good measure, you^re not going to be in charge of your emotions on that stage.
"That^s roughly the same amount that Andy Fordham was drinking before he was forced to change his lifestyle. I know it sounds obvious now, but it^s bound to take its toll and make you feel tired.
"The strange thing is that I would only drink when I played darts - I don^t go down the pub or the clubs, or drink socially for the sake of it.
"Just about the only time when I would drink was before I went on the oche, as if I thought it would give me a confidence boost.
"But I^ve been coming to the Lakeside since 1998, and anyone who saw me swagger into the place 11 years ago would never accuse me of lacking confidence, so I^ve no idea why I thought I would find it in the bottom of a pint glass."