Few in the world of darts have had as busy a January as recently crowned three-times BDO world champion Glen Durrant. Perhaps few in the world of sport. Michael van Gerwen had his PDC World Championship business resolved by 1st January. And when it comes to mileage – and emotional and physical toil – Duzza really stands out. dartsweb takes a look back on not only the last few weeks, but the last few years, and the emergence of Durrant as one of the game’s very best.
-2017: Heartbreak and lessons learnt
When dartsweb last left Glen’s story, it had been a challenging few months. A gutting loss to Scott Waites in the 2016 BDO World Championship quarter-final from 4-2 up had left the Teesside thrower disconsolate and irreconcilable. But the game, as well as its 2015 semi-final precursor vs. Martin Adams ended up being turning points in Glen’s career. “The Adams match was and will always be the defining match of my career. That night, I knew I could play with the best and win that BDO World Championship. The Waites match haunted me for a long time. But, I believe, without those losses, I would not have beaten Paul Hogan and Mark McGeeney when, to be fair, I was a beaten man.”
“If I could turn the clock back to one match, it would be the Wright quarter-final [in the 2017 Grand Slam]”
Two other big wins which proved to be pivotal in helping Glen’s stage game and cutting-edge ability in big TV games were his 2015 and 2016 Winmau World Masters final victories. In 2015, he faced seasoned American darter Larry Butler who was looking for his first ‘major’ darts victory since his 1993 World Matchplay crown. But with great composure, Glen vanquished Butler and Mark McGeeney, his opponent in the next year’s World Masters final, to win his first two darts majors. “It was a magical feeling after beating Butler. My friends and family were out in force and I was no longer the choker. I was now a BDO major winner.”
2017: Relief and ecstasy – a first Lakeside crown
“I had dreamt of that moment a million times but never once did I fall to my knees in celebration.” It was clear to see what 2017 BDO World Championship final victory meant to Glen Durrant. It was the culmination of numerous years of hard work, numerous years of local comps and BDO opens and the icing on the cake to an indomitable few years at the zenith of BDO world darts. “To this day, it is the best moment in my darting life,” said Glen. But, he didn’t get there easily. It was a challenging week in Surrey. A late into the night, second round clash with Paul Hogan is one firm in the brain of not only the two competitors and many spectators at the Lakeside Country Club that January evening but the vast number of viewers at home, including many wincing Durrant fans who thought their man was on his way out of the Worlds, for which he was the number one seed. “I was absolutely down and out. All I felt was utter frustration after a dominant year. I was asking myself, ‘How do I recover from this?’. But the next hour, after being 3-0 down, proved pivotal in my next phase.” It was quite simply ‘Teesside Steel’, as Glen said.
“Had the BDO regulations not changed, I would still be a BDO player ‘for life'”
As well as continuing to establish himself as the head and shoulders best thrower in the British Darts Organisation, Glen also participated in his second Grand Slam of Darts and was one of the strongest performers of the week in Wolverhampton as he reached the quarter-finals before being edged out by Scot Peter Wright. “It was a fabulous week but also the beginning of the intense scrutiny on me as the BDO world champion and world number 1. If I could turn the clock back to one match, it would be the Wright quarter-final. The missed doubles early killed me. But, again, I learnt lots about myself in that week.”
2018: A second Lakeside crown and PDC pressure
Durrant’s BDO dominance continued into 2018. He arrived, once again, as the huge tournament favourite and lived up to expectations, this time facing his biggest challenge in the final. The epic closing encounter, in which Glen’s opponent Mark McGeeney missed two darts for the championship, saw Glen lift his second Lakeside title, and is a classic match many still savour. “This is the game most people want to talk about,” the three-times world champion admitted. “I was full of head cold the night before. The game had plenty of highs and lows, particularly the moment when Mark missed 36 for the crown. But my memory was his reaction to the loss. He was an absolute gentleman. Thanks to the win, I can now pay off my mortgage!”
But the tournament had its negative undercurrent too. After saying he wanted to ‘honour the trophy’ the previous year, pressure was now tolling on the BDO’s number one to decide on his future after his world title defence and, ultimately, make a decision as to whether or not he wanted to head to PDC Q-School or not. And, rightly unwilling to sacrifice any prize money won from the semi-final stage onwards (as was BDO ruling), Glen made the decision to declare himself ‘BDO for life’. He reflects on that period. “I was sick of the PDC question. I must admit, I did not envisage the rule change only 8 months later. If it had not changed, I would still be a BDO player ‘for life’ without this amendment.”
“I love the BDO and I will sing that from the rooftops if required but this is purely about a new challenge.”
Things were to quickly change. The announcement of Sue Williams that she was to step down as BDO chair was soon followed by the election of Des Jacklin as the new head of the organisation and a rapid transition period ensued. One of Jacklin’s formative decisions was to abolish the prize money restrictions on those wanting to go to Q-School, and this was the driving force in encouraging numerous BDO players to committing to a trip to Wigan to try and secure a place on the PDC tour, knowing any Lakeside earnings were protected. “There was real doubt from some about a 2019 BDO World Championship. I was pretty confident it would go ahead. I think Des [Jacklin] is a breath of fresh air and strategically he has a vision and I wish him all the very best for the future. I am a very proud three times BDO world champion and I will continue to showcase the magnificent Lakeside trophy at my exhibitions in 2019,” said Glen of the BDO’s new leadership.
2019: A busy fortnight and pastures new
When Durrant arrived in Frimley Green to defend his BDO world title, there was much more than the potential five games ahead on his mind. The looming PDC Q-School, which Glen had entered, was also preying on his mind. But that didn’t allow Glen to go off focus. Victories over Mark McGrath, Scott Baker, Kyle McKinstry, Jim Williams and finally Scott Waites in a 7-3 final victory helped Durrant to a third consecutive BDO world title, becoming only the second player after Eric Bristow in 1984, 85 and 86 to win three on the bounce. And, although the delight of the accomplishment was clear to see in the Middlesbrough man’s celebrations, it was back to business for Glen the next day as he returned to work. “I had a moment of self reflection this week in Holland. I am a very proud champion. It was a conscious decision to refuse media obligations and get back to work 12 hours after winning with Q-School being the objective,” said Durrant. And Glen felt like he left no stones unturned as he departed the organisation for what would be the last time to battle it out at Qualifying School. “I didn’t feel too emotional as I left. I love the BDO and I will sing that from the rooftops if required but this is purely about a new challenge. I could have stayed ‘BDO for life’ but that nagging question about the PDC may have haunted me.”
“It was another ‘Hogan’ moment when Dennant missed 3 darts to end my PDC dream.”
As Glen began to fight it out for his tour card, it was hardly plain sailing in the first couple of days. Early losses to Darren Herewini and Vince Tipple on days 1 and 2 respectively left Glen in a challenging position as he aimed to win his place on the Professional Darts Corporation circuit. “They were very bad losses and, emotionally, it was tough on all around me,” responded Duzza. But, the BDO’s number one motored on and an impressive run on day 3, where he got to last 4, only to be defeated by Reece Robinson to thwart chances of an automatic tour card win without having to return. And it was a moment on day 4 that very nearly ended Durrant’s chances of a 2019 on the PDC circuit as Matthew Dennant missed match darts to defeat Glen in the last 128 of action. “It was another ‘Hogan’ moment when Dennant missed 3 darts to end my PDC dream. From that moment, I showed real bottle and resolve,” Glen admitted. And, despite loss to Kirk Shepherd in the last 16, it was a win over Adam Huckvale in the last 32 that ended up guaranteeing Durrant’s position in the PDC for 2019/20.
“All I can feel now is pure excitement. I need engine in my tank so I need a few days of relaxation before giving the PDC my very best.”
Image Credits: BDO, BBC and Mac Elkin’s Twitter
Thanks to Glen Durrant