Welcome to another edition of ‘Darts Fans’, the feature where fans of the sport look back at how they became interested in the game, their favourite memories and much more. Joining dartsweb this time is Alex Moss, sports journalist and co-host of darts podcast ‘The Weekly Dartscast’. He began by explaining how his interest in the sport began, “My earliest memory of watching darts is the 2004 world final between Phil Taylor and Kevin Painter. I must have only been eight or nine at the time, so didn’t get to watch it until the end, but it was watching the two world finals at the start of 2007 that got me hooked on darts. Raymond van Barneveld’s sudden-death win against Phil Taylor at the Circus Tavern, followed a week or so later by Phill Nixon’s comeback from 6-0 down against Martin Adams to get back to 6-6. I can’t imagine how many darts fans came from watching those two games alone.”
“I started to follow darts more closely after that, and playing wise I joined a local pub team, started entering local events and even made a handful of appearances for Suffolk’s youth side. It was around my late teens that I realised I wasn’t anywhere near good enough to make it a career playing, so the next best thing would be reporting on it. After finishing my journalism degree at university in 2016 I’ve been freelance ever since, mainly focusing on sport.”
Alex first combined his love of writing and darts with the magazine ‘Darts Weekly’, which many followers of the sport will remember. “The idea came about after I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon at Peter Wright’s old home in Mendham towards the end of 2016, putting together a feature for his local paper, the Diss Express,” Moss told me.
“We threw some darts, Peter beat me with a 12 darter, and then we had a sit-down chat. Peter’s story was fascinating and I wanted to find out more about the players I watch week in week out. I was still at uni at the time, so had a little bit of spare time, and saw a gap in the market to put together a weekly publication on darts. Darts Weekly ran for around 15 or 16 months and I have to say a big thank you to all of the writers who volunteered their time to help out. The role of editor was time consuming, so as much as I enjoyed putting it together, when other commitments came into my life I had to pull the plug.”
He didn’t cease his darts-based work there though, starting ‘The Weekly Dartscast’ with Burton DeWitt three years ago. “I can’t recall who approached who about it, but myself and Burton DeWitt, my co-host, joked about if we started a darts podcast we’d call it Darts? Talk? Let’s! A play on the brilliant Let’s Talk Darts podcast which Chris Murphy and Paul Nicholson ran for a little while before us. Again, there was a gap in the market, to put out a weekly podcast about darts, but also bring on guests each week. It’s an independent podcast so we aim to cover as many organisations as we can, PDC, BDO, WDF, WDDA, the list goes on. We usually aim to have a guest on for 10 or 15 minutes and we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of the big names on, but also so many other players, pundits, commentators and darts personalities.”
“As far as future plans go, from my side I’m keen to get Co Stompe on, and Burton wants Mark Walsh on, our respective favourite players. We put together the show, along with our producer Hanna, because we have a passion for darts, so I guess turning it into something that paid a little bit of money would be brilliant. Myself and Hanna have used our own money for trips recently to events to represent the podcast, we were both at the O2 for the BDO World Championships last month, and two weeks ago I was in Aberdeen for the Premier League. Getting to the events, chatting to the players face to face, is something I really enjoy doing. Hopefully one day we can make something out of it, but if we don’t it’s still a pleasure to chat darts with another darts fan as enthusiastic as I am, who’s living across the pond, every week,” Alex explained.
Moss has referenced Co Stompe as one of his favourite players, and he went on to tell me a little bit more about some of his ‘favourites’ (journalist hat to one side!). “Listeners of the podcast will know I’m a big Peter Wright fan. I remember seeing him at a local competition which was held at Colchester United FC, I want to say in 2011, and I’d seen him play on TV a couple of times before that. Seeing a player local to me on the big stage I felt I had to cheer for him, and after meeting him a few times since then, and chatting a few more times on the phone, he’s very much down to earth, which is what I like about him. Before then, Co Stompe was a favourite of mine, and I always enjoyed watching Ted Hankey whenever he was on TV. Favourite venue? From the ones that I’ve been to, it has to be the Winter Gardens, in Blackpool. It’s just a very special place and if I’m there watching it usually means I’m with my best mates as well, so it’s always a good time. Just a shame the Monday night hotspot that is Home & HQ shut down last month!”
The Premier League is of course ongoing, and as one of the highest profile events of the year, has all darts fans talking. Moss reflected on the event so far, “We’re two weeks in now and the thing I’m most excited to see is the race for the play-offs. Michael van Gerwen has got off to a hot start, two wins out of two, and you would expect him to qualify, most likely in that top spot again. But after that I think you can make a case for any of the eight to get in the top four. Just looking back at the first two weeks, Glen Durrant played well on opening night, Rob Cross has started well, as has Gary Anderson. Michael Smith was phenomenal for the first half of his second game, Gerwyn Price has unearthed an ability of being hard to beat, and that’s without mentioning the reigning world champion Peter Wright, the rising star that is Nathan Aspinall, and Daryl Gurney, who’s had a rough start but could easily pick up results and move out of danger. So many quality players, all capable. I just hope we see, first an exciting battle to avoid elimination, and then an exciting battle to finish in the top four.”
And, finally, Alex told me a little bit about his darts-based plans for 2020, “As far as going to events, I don’t have anything pencilled in for the rest of this year, but I’m hoping to get to a few events, not sure which ones though. I really enjoyed covering the World Masters last year, put aside the controversy off the oche, but the access I had that week was first class, and I got to chat to a lot of players. I’m not sure what the future of that event holds, the WDF have said they’re planning to hold their own version of it, and we don’t know too much from a BDO standpoint. I just have the feeling 2020 could be a big year for darts, so from watching at home I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds, and rest assured myself and Burton will be covering it all on the Weekly Dartscast. Hang tight!”
Thanks to Alex Moss
Image Credits: Diss Express and the Weekly Dartscast Twitter