Darts Fans: Phil Haigh

Answering the questions in this edition of ‘Darts Fans’ is Phil Haigh. Phil is a sports journalist for Metro, who specialises in snooker and darts. He began by explaining how he first became interested in darts. “I didn’t actually start to be interested that early, as I only started watching when I was maybe 15 and started playing regularly at 18/19.”

Phil continued by discussing some of his favourite viewing memories, “Dennis Priestley was my favourite player when I started watching. He was already a bit past his best but he’s a Barnsley fan, like myself. The first time I saw anything live was 2009 Ally Pally. Taylor hammered Painter, Wade beat Eccles and Barrie Bates whitewashed Mark Dudbridge. A load of us dressed up as artists for Painter. Loved it.”

And what about Phil’s own darts skills? “Absolutely nothing special. Average about 50. 60 if I’ve been practicing,” he said.

As mentioned at the beginning of the piece, Phil is a sports writer for Metro who covers snooker, darts and other sports. He explained how he entered the world of journalism. “I actually went to university to do law but it was so boring I swapped to do journalism, specifically sports journalism. I did all sorts of writing bits as a freelancer after that and ended up at Metro. Then I managed to persuade them to let me cover darts and snooker. I don’t get to go out to many events in person but I’ve done the World Champs and Premier League finals.”

Snooker and darts are two sports often discussed in parallel, with similar roots and developments over the years. Both have also faced their own unique struggles over time, so I asked Phil – who co-presents the excellent ‘Talking Snooker’ podcast with Nick Metcalfe – to comment on the two sports’ standing. “Yeah they are easy to compare for the reasons you mention and are often lumped together but are obviously entirely different. I think both struggle for coverage in ‘traditional media’ but darts coverage has embraced ‘new media’ a bit more. There is certainly better video content, for example. Snooker does need to attract younger fans and younger players, which darts doesn’t have a problem with. It is tricky because you don’t want to alienate the current, older audience at the same time. It’s a difficult balance to strike.”

Finally, with the prospect of darts over the remainder of 2021 salivating to the say the least, I asked Phil to divulge what he is looking forward to most. “The Grand Prix is always a highlight but that’s just coming to an end. I’m afraid the Grand Slam isn’t quite what it used to be, for me, because the BDO players coming over was always really interesting. It’s still good, but not what it used to be. Boring answer but by this time in the calendar I’m really starting to look forward to the Worlds. Price looks very, very strong (at the time of writing) but it would be an unreal statement to retain after winning for the first time. It’s going to be fascinating.” It will indeed!

Thanks to Phil Haigh

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