Goodbye and Good Riddance to 2012
First up came two Pro Tours in Crawley. It seemed at first that I could not catch much of a break. Tough draws mean less match practise and so each game becomes even more vital than usual. Dean Winstanly edged me out 6-5 in round one on the first day. Has to be said it was a very good game and Dean was in superb form, as he later demonstrated in the Grand Slam and The World Champs with his 9 darter! It was a shame that no Grand Slam Qualifer took place this year, as another opportunity to get match practise would have been very useful and who knows the fact that I have succeeded there before may have given me a good boost. Day two saw an encounter with former World Semi finalist and Red Dragon colleague Andy Jenkins. Andy was well placed to get into the World Championships and I probably needed something special. After playing very strongly early on I began to run out of steam and Andy ran out the winner 6-4. Congrats to Andy he then went on to qualify for the Worlds and hopefully his career will get stronger again.
So for the first time since turning professional I had to attend the qualifier on Monday. I had avoided this before with strong end of year form in 2010. Being No.1, I was hopeful, that some of the good signs would present themselves again and, I could give the event a real go. I had a tough first round against Dave Smith and to be honest the game was awful. It meant a huge amount to us both and thus affected our performance. As it turned out it was Dave^s last game in the PDC. He is a super guy and a great darter. I wish him well in the future. Then another old friend Joey Palfreyman. I had helped Joey get ready for the UK Open this year and we had cheered him on in his first round game, thus it was slightly odd to play him here. After a patchy display I began to find a little form. In the end we both missed match darts but I squeezed home. Next in my quarter was Stuart Kellett. Stuart has done superbly since his late start and deserved to win. We played a few times in the last 12 months and I was slightly ahead. This time however Stuart was very solid and did not falter even when behind, he then came through and played strong consistent darts. He went on to win the event and a place at Ally Pally beating John Bowles in the final.
Just about the only highlight of the end of 2012 was our Find A Pro event. This was held for The "Mile High" Trophy and a introductory PDC sponsorship. Congratulations to Jamie Gemmell for winning a tough day of darts. Also to Let^s Play Knockout Darts for running a superb day and Red Dragon for supporting my idea to give something back to those who work hard to get a little break in darts. Keep your eye out for Jamie around the tour this year, we shall support him wherever we can and hope you can do the same.
Thus ended the Annus Horribilus that has been 2012, it has been a very tough year in all ways. Personally, family, health and professionally. Still I am hoping that they are all out of the way now. I am very grateful to Red Dragon ,European Textile Recycling, The Mile High Club, my management and all those who support my career through thick and thin. It is one thing to be supported when you play well and win, but quite amazing to be supported even more strongly in the lean tough times. It is humbling indeed.
They say that when the times get tough the tough get going. Well I aim to get going again quickly, I have hit the open circuit hard again over the festive period. In addition I have put many things right and new things in place. Positive times ahead for Mile High!
Watch this space for more news in January.