Our long-running feature ‘Darts Fans’ is returning with a new guest in the hot-seat. Joe Reid is a 21-year-old darts player and writer from Bedfordshire who is a frequent reviewer of darts and represents his county at a senior level, having also done so at a youth level. He has also played in BDO level events and is an aspirant professional. He began by explaining how he first became interested in darts, “I simply received one of the Phil Taylor cabinet setups for my birthday one year and started playing. I’d always play when we had the World Championships on the TV, and by February, the board stood forgotten. December would roll around, the darts would be back on TV, and I’d dust off the darts again and start playing. This cycle would repeat for about three years… start playing in December, by January I’d improved massively, by February the board was forgotten… rinse and repeat! One year, I simply decided to keep playing all year round, and haven’t looked back since!”
Reid continued to reflect on some of the players he looks out for as a fan and favourite moments following the sport, “To be completely honest, I don’t really have a set ‘favourite’ player, but I have a few I’ll always wish well. Devon Petersen is one of them, as well as Jonny Clayton, James Wade, Adrian Lewis… the list goes on. I’ve also always supported players that I’ve seen come up through the BDO system. Martijn Kleermaker, for one, I’ve followed since his impressive performance at the Six Nations back in 2018 – I’m thrilled he’s finally showing the world what he can do, now that he’s in the PDC. Another couple of examples are Jim Williams, who once gave me a signed set of his L-Style flights at a local exhibition, and Richard Veenstra, one I highly tip as a future PDC title winner.”
“In terms of viewing moments, sitting in the crowd at the England Open 2018 and watching Richard Veenstra hit a 100.20 average against Jason Lovett is one I’ll always remember. It was the first live ‘professional’ darts match I’d ever seen, and the standard blew me away completely! As a player, hitting a 31.31 average at Superleague is something I’ll always hold in high regard, as I had no idea I had the ability to produce a standard of darts that high. Winning a ‘Man of the Match’ and ‘Divisional Average’ award at county with a 27.83 was another special game for me, as it was good to know I could produce that sort of performance on stage when the pressure was on.”
Joe is certainly a skilled thrower who has demonstrated his quality at a number of levels. He explained a little bit more about his transition from casual interest to county player, “One thing about starting to play darts competitively was, for me, I never really had time to settle. Within a couple weeks of playing local leagues, I’d been asked to play for Bedfordshire Youth County. Around a month after that, I was asked to play for my local Superleague team. A year later, I made my debut for Bedfordshire Senior County. It was a mad couple of years! I can’t really comment on my own ability – as long as I throw the last dart of the game, I’m not too fussed with what happens in the middle!” A great motto to follow for any player.
And what does Joe throw with, and what ambitions does he have for the future? “Up until the pandemic, my equipment had always remained consistent. Harrows Supergrip 21g darts, medium nylon stems, 32mm points and No. 6 100 micron flights. Since the pandemic, I’ve changed a few things – I’m now using 41mm points, and I’m currently in the process of trialling an L-Style setup, which, so far, I’m absolutely loving. I’ve never really experimented with barrels for personal use. While I have grip issues with my darts, I’ve never found anything I throw better, and so always stuck with them, bar one or two matches in which I decided to experiment. In terms of ambition, the obvious one is to be World Champion! In the mean-time, I’ve not really set many goals, as I’m waiting until leagues resume so I can re-assess the level I’m at now, and the level I want to be at in six months, one year, five years etc. For now, I’d like a singles tournament win. I’ve made one or two finals in the past, and won a few pairs and triples tournaments, but never won a singles final, so that is definitely a short-term goal for me.”
Through organisations like Darts Performance Centre, Joe has also written reviews of darts and dart products, offering detailed and thorough analysis. The ‘dart bug’ and the fascination of the art of darts is something which has caught lots of people not least Joe. “My interest is only half in the equipment, and half in the reasoning behind it. I’m not too concerned from a personal point of view with experimenting with grip styles and barrel shapes – if I buy a set of Phil Taylor darts, I know full well they won’t fly well for me and using them will be a struggle, no matter how long I persist with them for. With that being said, the decisions behind the barrel have always been equally important to me. Going back to using Phil’s darts as an example, I’m always interested as to what changes have been made from his previous release, and how it benefits him at the oche. I’ve recently written a ‘Weapons Evolution’ piece with Devon Petersen, where I looked back at every set of darts Devon had used as a professional. It was fascinating to see the gradual evolution of his barrels, and what changes he made along the years to perfect his equipment.”
I also asked Joe to offer some words to potential new players on what they should look to assemble in terms of equipment. “Start simple. Straight barrel dart with a full length ring grip, for instance, the Red Dragon Pegasus, which can be found on the Red Dragon Amazon store for little over £20.00. Don’t bother with player branded darts, or intricate styles of grip – plenty of time for that later. For a new player, it’s all about developing your own style of grip, and throw. I personally feel medium nylon stems and No.6 flights will more than suffice, as well as standard 32mm points. Again, plenty of time to alter the setup at a later date, once you fully understand what you require from the equipment you use. Once you understand your own throw and the equipment you use, then, and ONLY then, should you look to change equipment. Identify the issues, and resolve them gradually. You may find that, as you make a change to resolve one issue, a second issue simultaneously rectifies itself.” Sage advice for any new throwers.
Reid’s interest in analysing darts has also seen him publish reviews of products in publications like Darts World Magazine. He explained how this came about, “I sort of… fell into reviewing. It wasn’t something I’d planned on. I believe it was shortly after I’d signed a sponsorship deal with Performance Darts that they sent out a set of their un-released 50/50 darts for me to write a little piece on, in order to promote them when they were released. I wrote a full review, and it was received well – I was sent out three more sets shortly after! I sent out emails to every company I could think of, in the hope of writing more reviews, as I genuinely really enjoyed what I was doing with Performance Darts, and wanted to expand on that.”
“Loxley Darts were the only company to reply to those emails, and since then, I’ve reviewed seven darts shirts and eight sets of darts, with talks in place for more later on in the year! I’m lucky in the sense that I am one of the only darts reviewers – though I prefer the term ‘Product Analyst’ – that write, as opposed to creating YouTube videos, and so I have a niche service to offer to darts brands. I really have Paul Woodage and Callum Harris-Hulme to thank in regards to my work for Darts World. It was by chance I discovered through Facebook that Paul was a writer for the magazine, and so sent a message to him asking how to apply. He forwarded my work on to Callum, who decided to take me onboard! I feel proud to write for such an established brand, and really looking forward to what’s to come in the future.”
Joe also has an impressive collection of darts, totalling in the hundreds column. “Funnily enough, I never set out to be a ‘collector’ – I’m more of a… hoarder,” he explained. “I’m not thinking about owning as many darts as I can, I just don’t like getting rid of sets I own, regardless of whether I use them or not. I do, however, collect player branded darts flights. At last count, I own 151 sets of darts, and just under 340 sets of player branded dart flights.”
Finally, with the World Matchplay upon us, I asked Joe to give me a few predictions about how the event may turn out. “Ah, you’ve put me on the spot there! Looking at the draw, I’d say Gerwyn Price has a fantastic chance of making the final, providing he can negotiate a tough second round tie against the winner of Jonny Clayton and Devon Petersen, should he defeat Jermaine Wattimena in the first round. Joining him I feel will be Jose de Sousa, but it won’t be easy, with a potential run to the title seeing him face the three most recent PDC World Champions in consecutive games! I’d have to say Price for the title, winning 16-11 in a hard fought contest against ‘The Special One’. I’m looking forward to what promises to be a thrilling event!”
Image Credits: Joe Reid
Thanks to Joe Reid