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Article: Mile High talks to the PDPA Fanzone

Mile High talks to the PDPA Fanzone

Hello Mark, welcome to the PDPA Fanzone, it’s great to be interviewing you as you get TO THE POINT, you’re having a great 2011, how do you feel its gone for you?

 Yeah its not been too bad really! I have really enjoyed it so far, we set certain goals at the start of the year and it’s almost unbelievable that they have come together so well, like a dream come true really. I really enjoyed the UK Open adventure and Dublin for the World Grand Prix as I had looked forward to it for a long time. However reaching the later stages of many Pro Tour events has also been inspiring and personally satisfying.


You’ve made a huge impact on the PDC rankings, helped by some quarter-final placings in the TV majors, is playing in front of the TV cameras something you enjoy ?

 Playing in front  of the camera’s is always a challenge and very demanding, the incentives are higher as are the stakes and it seems to bring the best out of me. I really enjoy the whole experience of major competitions, for me it is the ultimate test. Coming late to the professional game I do not have the luxury of taking too long to adapt to the big stages and occasions and it has been truly wonderful to find that they play to my strengths. The preparation is always demanding and thorough and I therefore feel relaxed and ready for anything ! The adrenaline and buzz from the stage and crowd is addictive and irreplaceable.


Before you joined the PDC what were you doing in the darting world and do you wish you had taken the plunge and joined sooner?

It was `the hardest game in the world’, Andrew 30 years man & boy! Enough of the Harry Enfield, I was playing Pub League and Open darts with good success and had gone part time at work in order to see where darts would take me. Luckily I was spotted at these Opens and took the plunge with a lot of help and support.

As for joining sooner, in an ideal world of course, maybe i would have silverware by now! You can never be sure looking back, so I look forward and am grateful to have the maturity, experience and backing to make the most of every opportunity I now gain. Life is not straight forward and with family, career and financial implications perhaps my opportunity came at the only time it would have worked, who knows.


Who or what got you interested in Darts to start with, did you play as a youngster or were you a late starter ?

 I started at the age of about 11 playing in the garage and my bedroom, my Dad was a good local darter and I soon joined his local team, at 15 I won 36 out of 38 games in my first full season  and that included missing one for a school field trip !  I progressed through the normal pub, super league, county routes and represented both Clwyd and later my home county of Staffordshire, that is one of the reasons  for my UK themed darts and web site

Lionel Smith really helped me to take my game seriously and playing with him was a true pleasure.


 Did you always believe that you were good enough to make an impact in the professional side of the game and what does it feel like to be up there playing with the World’s best on a weekly basis ?

 I always knew deep down that I had the ability and the game to play at that level but you never know for sure until you have made the step, the proof as they say is in the pudding. It is a little intimidating first, if  like me you have watched them all on the TV for 20 years, to be playing them one on one is something that needs to be getting used to. Then results pick up and you gain the confidence to play your own game in your own way, next its all familiar and in many ways its you against yourself!

The weekly basis is something that needs to be guarded against because it is easy to fall into patterns, some people get used to losing and can’t get out of it, the winning habit is more difficult to sustain, some folk can get a little complacent and with the standard at the moment you will soon be caught out !


What would you say is your greatest achievement to date since you joined the PDC ?

Of course there  have been individual highlights and overall my TV form would be one of them. Games against Simon Whitlock, Colin Lloyd, Steve Beaton and Peter Wright stand out. The award of New Player of the year from The PDC would also stand out. Ultimately becoming an established professional heading upward all the time and progressing in such a short time is the real reward for the time and dedication I have always committed to darts. The ability to win tough games against unheralded players on the pro tour is as rewarding as without it you get none of the higher profile opportunities. Another superb moment was learning that darts that carry my name and have been designed by me are available to buy, when you grow up and see Eric’s, John’s and Jockey’s in the shop you could barely dream that one day yours will be there!


At this years World Matchplay in Blackpool you gave Phil Taylor his toughest match throughout the event, that must have given you great satisfaction and also what was going through your mind as you were edging closer to him ?

 Of course it is satisfying to play good darts on a debut in a new venue, one of the greatest in darts, I was full of confidence I had prepared well and was in good form, I felt little to no pressure. Being expected to lose can be quite interesting. I believe I showed I can play with the best, but ultimately I was very disapointed as I believed I was able to win and should have done so. I was very disappointed with the middle session. I decided to play one leg at a time and never accept the game was never over. I felt my true game was on show and tried to take full advantage.

I take a lot from the game now and used it both in later floor events and during the World Grand Prix, especially against Mark Walsh.


If there was one particular match that you’ve been involved in that you could change the outcome of which would it be and why?

A few stand out, but obviously the recent defeat to Richie, victory would have meant a major Semi and another clash with Phil. Who wouldn’t want that? However I give Richie full credit he played very well and was in superb form all week. I shall learn a great deal from that one match and I suspect be grateful for it!


We’ve read on the Fanzone about your practice routines and how thorough they are, is this a side of the game that you enjoy?

As you will remember I centre my practice on a lot of real play, I am very grateful to all those who play with us and it’s very much like a team effort. Hopefully they all get as much benefit as i do from it and the little games we play as well keep us all sharp. It is great to keep it fun and to concentrate on what I am trying achieve overall as well. This week for example it has been a pleasure to be assisting Ian White in preparation for the Grand Slam and passing on a few tips after my experience last year.


Who are your best mates on the Pro Tour?

I will always to grateful to Andy Hamilton & Colin Osborne for their assistance when I first joined the tour. I get on with all the players and indeed the officials, I find its helps to enjoy yourself and treat everyone with equal respect. I have spent many hours with Ian White and Andy Hutchings this year and would class them as good friends as well.


We’re getting closer to darts’ biggest event the Ladbrokes World Championship, when will you start your preparations for this and what are your aims for the biggest few weeks in darts ?

 As ever we will be preparing well in advance with various other parties, usually in the last stages of the Pro Tour we have already started to play some sets format games and get sharper and work on stamina and conditions that we expect. Like all players I will be aiming to achieve the very best possible this year but have deliberately not set a round or money target. I intend to go as far as possible and who knows!


Being a darts pro means your away from home for long periods, when you do have spare time how do you like to relax away from the oche ?

 The time away can be useful, I caught up with old family friends in Holland recently and will more friends in Germany. Away from the Oche I spend time with my Partner and try to ensure I pay as much interest to her interests as she does mine. Pub Quizzes with family and friends are a favourite, I even played one in the hotel the evening before playing Phil in Blackpool (don’t tell anyone but I won the Bingo as well!). I still like to keep in good shape and used to be a regular Gym goer, these days it’s more walking the dogs in the country and some swimming and light workouts, perfect for darting fitness.


Aside from the World Championships, of all the other PDC TV majors you’ve played in which is your favourite and why ?

Difficult as I have played them only once each as a professional. I suppose I will always have a soft spot for the UK Open, it has rewarded me well in many ways and was a fantastic experience as an amateur and professional. Dublin was tremendous and if only I had been 100% fit things may have been even more enjoyable. It was difficult when you have to rest up and recover instead of relaxing and enjoying yourself a little.


You’ve played in the Grand Slam of Darts where players from both codes (PDC & BDO) compete together in round robin groups, how did you adapt to this style of event and playing different players?

To be honest I did not have a lot of time to think of that, it was my first TV major last year and I was keen to do well and learn as much as possible from the event. The noise on the opening night was quite a shock despite all the preparation. After that I settled but was always up against it, I knew a lot of lads from the BDO playing county etc. So it was nice to catch up with them and they were generous in their appreciation of what I had done up to then. I have played quite a few round robin type events but these are small groups with no east games. My best wishes to those who have qualified this year especially Ian who is a great player deserves every success.


Your one of the most popular players on the tour and with your trade-mark ‘walk-on’ winning you more fans along with your performances on the oche, how far do you believe you can go in the game, could we see the words Mark Hylton World Champion or World Number 1 in the near future ?

Due to my late start I have been very careful to plan every stage of my career so far together with those who support me. My manager Callum started by saying that I was a top 16 player who just did not know it yet and that after that the sky was the limit. Not sure I believed him then but I do now. the popularity thing is great , especially abroad fans where doing the walk on on tables at the German events recently and it has proved very catchy. Really though its all part of who I am I do not manufacture anything, I enjoyed my job very much so a little nod to it seems right. I prepare as thoroughly as any player and try to adopt a professional Sportsmans approach.  My team and I find the positives in everything and we are the same people win or lose. As for World Champion or World No.1 I can definitely say I have my aims and I intend to finish my career having completed them in full and have no regrets whatsoever. I will have certainly given it 100% and tried to make the most of every opportunity


Many thanks Mark for getting TO THE POINT, we at the PDPA Fanzone wish you continued success for 2011 and beyond and all the very best for the upcoming World Championships.

Thanks Andrew, I would like to thank you for your support and the many out there who have believed in me, especially Red Dragon Darts, and Wingate Electrical and who have backed all my TV appearances. Thanks to all those who have helped in countless ways , Nick & Mick who have driven round Europe in a fuss free way, Ryan, Ian, Simon, Cap and many others who have practiced, emailed, telephoned and generally given their time, patience and skill to assist me in many many ways!





Interview brought to you by Andrew Devonshire, PDPA Fanzone.

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