John Part only thinks about finals. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images
Alright John. How about a game of round the clock? Okay.
You have to go around twice and I go around once. Well, let^s see how you play first.
So it^s the World Championships? The big one? The one you prepare for all year? Yeah, it^s the big one. It^s the timing of it — they allow you a few weeks off where you don^t have to worry about being here or there.
Where does last year^s victory rank among your three titles? That^s a difficult question. Between 2008 and 1994 it^s hard to say between one or the other. It^s nice because they were opposite situations and I won both, which was cool. I was the young guy against the old guy [Bobby George] in 94, and I was the old guy against the new guy [Kirk Shepherd] last year. So they^re different things, but kind of complimentary to other. People ask me which win means the most and I always just think about the finals — I don^t have an extensive look at the run. From memory you just think about the final, you don^t think about the other matches. [Turns to board] I didn^t already do these ones, did I?
No, but you^ve done them now. If Small Talk could only hit three we^d be in business. So, what do you like to do outside of darts? I waste a lot of time watching films and television.
What do you like to watch on TV? I like some of the HBO type shows: Deadwood, Sopranos, that kind of thing. I watched Heroes, that^s kind of goofy.
Small Talk is a big fan of Deadwood, Al Swearengen is a hero. Deadwood is great. Unfortunately it^s dead.
Yeah, too expensive to make. Alright, Small Talk has got to pick up it^s game [wildly sends three darts anywhere but towards the seven]. What films do you spend all your time watching? I like anything that^s quality, The Wild Bunch is my favourite.
There^s a big Western theme to your viewing habits. Yeah, I^m a big John Wayne fan, I love all his films. Clint Eastwood, Burt Lancaster, all those guys.
Cheese or chocolate? Hmmm, cheese. There^s very little between them though. I^m partial to a nice Parmesan that has aged well. I try to stay away from chocolate — you eat a lot of chocolate a lot easier than you would eat a lot of cheese. I don^t really have a sweet tooth but when I do I tend to binge on chocolate. I don^t want to do that.
You^re on two or three. Oh yeah, I went bull, one, two, didn^t I?
Small Talk wasn^t going to remind you, but yeah, you did. What part of Canada are you from? Toronto.
Do you ever go to Newfoundland? Yeah. St John^s, Gander.
They^re strange people, aren^t they? Yes. They^re very proud of their heritage. They have for the most part a good attitude.
No argument here, they^re just buck mental. Oh yeah. Do doubles count?
Yes, although we should be handicapping you at this stage. Don^t take offence, but Newfoundland is kind of like Canada^s Ireland. It^s quite separate from Canada and has it^s own distinct personality. You have a chance here, I^ll go on doubles.
Small Talk is on 12, you^re on 13. I^ll try to throw doubles, oh there we go [Hits double 13]
Who would win in a fight, a lion or a tiger? A Tiger, it^s bigger and more aggressive.
Can I ask where you^re nickname [Darth Maple] came from? Are you a Star Wars fan? To an extent, I wouldn^t say I was overboard.
You wouldn^t have time to play darts if you were overboard. Who would warm you on those cold nights on the starcruiser, Princess Leah or Padmé Amidala? Princess Leah, but I^d call her Carrie Fisher. She had a good slave costume in that last film, The Return of the Jedi. [Small Talk hits 15,16 and 17 at one visit to the oche] Whoa!
Pressure is on you now, John. That^s good, that^s when I excel.
You started playing darts in a pub called the Unicorn and you are sponsored by Unicorn darts — is that a coincidence, or do you also have Unicorn wallpaper at home? Just a coincidence. That^s a good bar, live bands, the darts are still there. I think it used to be owned by the Irish Rovers.
Ha ha ha [Small Talk hits 19 and only needs 20 and the bull at the next visit for an historic victory] You have played against Anastasia [Dobromyslova], haven^t you? Yeah. She beat the hell out of me and she still lost 5-1. I could live with losing to her. Like I said before the match, ^I^ve lost to everyone else, so why would this make a difference^.
Do you think she has a right to be in the World Championship, on merit? Well, that^s a weird call. She is the reigning women^s world champion. Did I do 16?
No, you didn^t. You^ll never get the bull.
Small Talk is having trouble hitting 20 right now. But if Small Talk hits the bull it is doing a victory lap. How do you rate your chances this week? Pretty good. It^s there to be done.
Who are you most worried about? Me. Or Mark Dudbridge. Oh ho ho ho, you nearly beat me there.
[Agonising noises as the darts come tantalisingly close to bull] I^ve lost to him twice before, in consecutive years. Yay! [Genuine relief at hitting the bull and beating Small Talk]
Well done. Small Talk enjoyed that and it is probably the most significant warm up you will have. Thanks Small Talk.
Sky Sports is showing the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship exclusively live and in high definition
Story By: Guardian.co.uk