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Article: Mervyn King Interview

Mervyn King Interview

Q. When did you first take up darts, and when did you realise you wanted to be a professional darts player?

I first took up darts when I was 12 playing with my Dad, who used to run a kids Christmas party. I was given an old rolled cardboard dartboard that had plastic dividers instead of wires and stuck that up on my wall.

My Dad told me that it had to be at right distance and the right height and nothing less.

I wanted to be a pro by the age of 13 as I was playing in the local Superleague often beating local Superleague players and County A players and then got selected for the county B at 13.

My first county A game came at age 14 and I also won the local men’s singles league at 14, which was played at the Corn Exchange with over 1500 people watching, I was petrified but managed to win the final 2 – Nil.

Q. What’s it like at the weekend tournaments with 100+ players packed into an event? Do you socialise with the other players or keep it totally professional?

The Pro-Tour events are so tough and packed with class players that you’ve got to come out of the blocks running, it’s so competitive you haven’t got time to socialise, as at the end of the day it is our job and the main platform to build your rankings on.

Q. Who would you count as your best mates in the game?

Peter Wright or my little Pony as we like to call him with his multi-coloured hair!! We live close so we practice regularly.

Q. A month or so ago you were the talk of the darts forums as "the clear number 2 in the world", but results seem to have been tougher to come by recently. How do you think things are going for you so far in 2010, and what targets have you set yourself for this year (and onwards?)

The games are all really really tough and form is changing all the time, as you can’t legislate for how someone throws against you. My ultimate goal would be to be the World Number 1 and I do strive for this, but I know it’s an amazingly hard thing to achieve.

Q. What’s your view on the current state of the sport of darts and where the PDC has brought it?

Darts has never been better and is riding high, as it has been for the past 4 or 5 years. The profile is improving all the time and you can associate this with the involvement of Barry Hearn and some of the amazing talents on the tour like Phil Taylor, James Wade, Barney and Simon Whitlock etc etc.

Q. (and) Where do you see it in 10 years time? (Can it keep growing?)

I’d like to think that it will keep growing in ten years as there must be a great International flavour, where countries develop super dart players like we get in the UK and Europe. It would be great to see more John Parts crashing on to the scene to keep moving the ceiling up.

Q. "The Whyte & Mackay Premier League" – how has playing it in affected you and your career? It’s obvious that some ‘fans’ are spoiling the experience for you, and if so, would you consider refusing being part of it again next year if you qualify/are invited?

Definitely not. I’m there to entertain to put on a show for the true fans and the people at home. It’s a great experience the PL, even though a minority tends to belittle the event, by not showing respect for the players. Its still an amazing event and one that we cannot do without as sponsors like Whyte and Mackay are vital for our Sport and their continued sponsorship should be helped at every stage from fans to players alike.

Q. We often hear from TV commentators and fellow professionals that you are one of the most dedicated and professional players on the tour, and that approach is obvious when you walk-on at TV tournaments. What would you say your attitude to darts is, and do you feel it’s one of the things that gives you an advantage over other players?

I’ve got to be I the right frame of mind and be 100% focused on my game to play my best, sadly I can’t laugh and joke about and then switch back to my game face. It’s a really pressured environment and you need to be yourself to perform. Some guys naturally relieve pressure through humor, dancing etc but I need to be calm and clear with a strong clarity of what I need to do. This in no way reflects any deference to dart fans, it’s out of utmost respect that I do this so that they can see the very best possible darts from me.

Q. Would you consider sacrificing that dedicated approach (and appearance) to try and make you appear more approachable by the fans? (I am assuming that your ‘game face attitude’ has caused some of the bad behaviour towards you – which I must say I find appalling and un-warranted myself!) Or maybe you have more plans on how you are going to deal with the ‘boy boys’?

As pro sportsman I cannot change my approach, but behind the scenes I’ve always been approachable and will continue to do so, so if you see me grab an autograph.

Q. We hear about players practicing 18 hours a day, 365 days a year (OK maybe that’s just what Sid says about Taylor); How much practice do you feel helps your game? Do you follow rigid routines or is your practice based on how you feel at the time?

With the amount of darts that we play it’s nearly impossible to follow a strict routine and I adapt my practice depending on how I’m playing at the time before that event. I’ll do 4-5 hours before the PL and 3-4 hours before the Pro-Tour events so that will average out at 2 hours a day per week.

Q. What’s the best advice you could give someone who is considering becoming a pro darts player?

Learn to be a good loser, and understand why you lost and work on these areas. No one likes losing but you’ll lose more than you win in darts and if you can take the positives from this it will inevitably help you win.

Q. You have torn through the PDC rankings table since joining from the BDO – are there many differences day in day out between playing in the two organisations? Have you changed your approach at all since playing in the PDC?

Yes I have, the BDO didn’t have enough highly competitive darts week in week out and this degree of professionalism over the family BDO feel is what I’ve adopted into my game. The BDO has many talented players, and if you can’t win in the BDO system you’ll struggle on the PDC Tour.

Q. You’ve got a very specific ‘public’ image – but I believe that’s a professional side you project (I could be wrong of course!) – could you share one thing about yourself that might surprise the darts fans out there?

Everyone knows I’m a golf nut, but I’m also really passionate about fast cars and I’m a petrol head, I like nothing more than driving and being around cars.

Q. How do spend time relaxing when not playing or practising? (I see golf seems to be a hobby – I love the game myself, after thinking it was just for businessmen and aging comics for years – if you’re ever near Peterborough and fancy a game, give me a shout!)

Playing golf, walking the dog and driving cars.

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