Interview with darts commentator John Rawling

John Rawling is a long serving and highly renowned sports writer and broadcaster, and has been one of the voices behind the arraz for a number of years. And, like for so many, his love for the sport started in darts’ 1970s/1980s heyday. “I watched darts as a boy on television. I guess it would have been on ITV. I remember seeing Leighton Rees, John Lowe, Big Cliff and the rest, and I always loved seeing Bobby George. He had so much ability and the personality to go with it. But Eric Bristow was the man. He was a bit of a darting hero to me, and it was great to have got to meet him and know him before his death.”

Through his coverage on a range of broadcasters – primarily ITV – John has commentated on some of the sport’s trials and tribulations of recent years, including both PDC and BDO action. And he has loved his time behind the mic. “I have so many highlights, it is almost wrong to pick one out. I have so much admiration for all the players. Our ITV team is special and I love bringing the fun to such a big audience.”

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John is one of the longstanding voices behind darts, commentating for a range of broadcasters

Fans of the sport will know of the fantastic commentary booth partnership that John strikes up with former pro Chris Mason. The pair bounce off of each other perfectly, and help to enhance the entertainment of a day’s action. Rawling explained the ‘magic’ behind the pairing. “Chris and I are great mates. He would always be there for me, and vice versa. We make each other laugh and have a passion for the sport. Our mutual love of boxing is another bond. As for commentating, he really gets the skill required. I guess I give the hype and he provides extraordinary knowledge. I have worked alongside many over the years and Chris is as good as any of them.”

Sports commentary of any kind is a difficult nut to crack, with an important balance between informative insight and letting the action flow required. And there have been many people who have graced the commentary booth for the arraz over the years, each adding their distinct touch. John offered his thoughts on what a good commentary requires, “I think you have to treat the audience as friends. Inform, don’t lecture. Have a sense of fun and never be afraid to laugh on air. Make the audience think they are watching with friends.”

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As well as his work for darts, Rawling is well-known for commentating and writing on boxing

The sport that John is perhaps best known for is boxing, commentating on the sport for radio and TV and, amongst other things, serving as The Guardian’s boxing correspondent. Boxing and darts certainly do enjoy a cross-section of support, but I asked John if he could draw any parallels between the two as disciplines. “In its way, darts is gladiatorial. You cannot hide, and boxing is the same.”

The Covid-19 pandemic put a massive stop to sport of all forms for a long period, and only now are many sports beginning to adapt to the new norms of testing and behind closed doors play, with darts being no exemption. Hopefully, in the remaining few months of 2020, we will see plenty more competitive action, and Rawling remains optimistic. “I look forward to the return of the crowd. It makes darts special. Hopefully we get the fans back soon.”

Image Credits: BT and Fiji Sun

Thanks to John Rawling

 

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