GARY ANDERSON believes a stage lollipop man won’t catch on when darts returns to the big stage. Helpers with Stop-and-Go signs have been trialed in darts events in Germany to ensure players know when to throw and keep a safe distance.
The PDC is set to announce their schedule for future tournaments, and it’s likely the World Matchplay in Blackpool will take place without fans. There will be strict social-distancing measures in place to comply with government rules – and a stage lollipop man. But Ando, who plays his PDC Home Tour semi-final tonight (Weds), isn’t keen, admitting:
“I can’t see that catching on. You have to throw your darts, take them out of the board and get off the oche at your own tempo without waiting to be told. I don’t think it’s for me.”
“In darts, as much as any other sport, the fans are part and parcel of the whole occasion.“We’re up on stage doing our jobs, but they generate the atmosphere by enjoying themselves and wearing their gear.
“I watched some of the snooker the other night and that seemed to have the same kind of atmosphere behind closed doors as it has in front of a crowd – it’s a quiet sport by nature. “I can’t deny I’ve loved the peace and quiet of being at home for two months, but it’s a bit weird playing online against somebody who could be thousands of miles away.“
“Even in Pro Tour events on the floor, there is usually a bit of noise in the background, and I’m still getting used to competing when there’s just silence all around me. “I like to think I play the right way: I throw my darts, get out of the way as quick as possible and let the other guy have a go – but it’s weird when the other guy isn’t there, it’s not easy to get into a rhythm.”
Ando, 49, takes on Jelle Klaasen, Dave Chisnall, and Mike De Decker in the online streaming event semi-final and is yet to lose a leg over the past two groups. But he’s also not keen for life to get back to normal just yet, adding: “It will be strange if we bring darts back on stage behind closed doors, but the country’s in a mess.“I’m one of those folk who thinks we should stick at it (lockdown) until the virus is wiped out completely unless we want to go back to square one again.
“We’re being told to send our kids back to school, but if MPs are not willing to go back to the House of Commons yet, why is it safer for teachers and their kids”?
“You try telling a five-year-old kid he’s going back to school but he’s not allowed to play with his pals in the playground. It’s not going to happen.”
Anderson originally could not get strong enough WiFi for the Home Tour and it would be typical if he now went on to win the event. Gary also admits he’s enjoying time at home and away from the tour. He said:
“To be honest, I’m quite happy with my own company – everyone knows I’m at my happiest when I’m back home, so I’ve quite enjoyed the last couple of months.”
“When I practice at home, I’ve normally got a couple of mates who come round, and obviously that’s not been happening lately so I haven’t had a lot of practice. “In that regard, I’ve been quite pleased with the way it’s gone on the Home Tour – I was pleased with how I played against Luke Humphries the other night, and at times I’ve felt like I’ve been getting my throwback to what it was.”