80s throwback who ‘hates’ watching darts vows to put family before PDC return

  • Bookmark
  • Offbeat news from the world of sport

    We have more newsletters

    If Conan Whitehead had a darts time machine he would happily transport himself back to a smoky pub in the 1980s to take on icons of the era like Eric Bristow, John Lowe and Jocky Wilson.

    Amid the expansion and increased professionalism of the game, darts has largely ditched its pub game reputation. There might still be a few beer bellies about but the days of pints and players puffing on cigarettes are long gone, at least at the top level.

    But Whitehead, a former PDC Tour card holder and the recent winner of the inaugural MODUS Super Series, is nostalgic about the ‘good old days’.

    READ MORE: Scott Williams pondering drastic outfit change in bid to revive Grand Slam hopes

    “100 per cent, that would have been my perfect era to play in,” he tells Daily Star Sport.

    “There’s things that have changed for the better, some that haven’t. Sometimes you can be too professional. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good for the sport but not for certain people. There’s good and bad.

    “I’m a people person. I like being around other people, having a chat. I’m what you’d call an old-school player. I like to be in loud pubs playing darts. I love the crowd as well.”

    The pub remains the home of the grassroots player but that came to a grinding halt during the pandemic. Many players turned to online darts, with many using the extra time on their hands to improve their game.

    But it wasn’t Whitehead’s cup of tea and led to him falling out of love with the sport for a spell.

    “I’d lost my interest, my love for the game,” he admits. “I think it was just playing too much. During Covid, it was all online darts and I hated it. I like the socialising as well as the playing. When you can’t socialise, I was thinking ‘what’s the point?’.

    “I gave up darts for 10 months. I didn’t even pick one up. Then the Super Series came along and I ended up winning the first event. It was a break I needed, I think.”

    The MODUS Super Series has indeed breathed new life into his career. Taking place at a purpose-built arena in Portsmouth and broadcast online, Whitehead surprised himself by going all the way by winning the £20,000 top prize.

    It’s also been a huge year away from the oche for Whitehead, who has become a new dad to a baby girl.

    “When I entered this tournament my baby had just been born, which took the pressure off of me, so I’ve just been back enjoying the game,” he said after winning the MODUS Super Series final.

    “My family has been everything to me, without them I wouldn’t be here. It was my partner that pushed me back into darts, I was ready to give it all up. It’s been a hard slog these past 13 weeks, everyone that plays in this competition knows how tough it is. But after winning the final, all that hard work has paid off.”

    Family is at the forefront of his mind as he weighs up whether to try and get his PDC Tour card back. Whitehead, who has had two previous stints on the main tour, is certain he has the game for it but the time spent away from home presents him with a dilemma, especially when a good living can be made with success on the vibrant amateur circuit.

    Was darts better in the old days? Tell us in the comments section below.

    While Whitehead gave up his job as a bricklayer earlier this year to focus on darts, a PDC Tour card still isn’t the be-all and end-all for him.

    “At the end of the day, the pinnacle of darts is the PDC,” says Whitehead. “But I’ve been on that side of it, and it’s hard. You’re away from the family week in, week out. It’s harder than people think. They think it’s a life of luxury.

    “Places like Germany and Holland are nice places to visit but you don’t see the outside of the hotel room. It’s not as good as everyone thinks it is. With a newborn, I can’t be away from home for three or four weeks.

    “Nothing is off the table. I’m confident, if I go to Q-School, I’ll get the Tour card. It’s whether I want to do it for two years.”

    He says many fellow players are asking themselves the same question.

    “I reckon there’s a lot more than there was,” he adds. “I’ve spoken to a few people and they’re talking about not even attending Q-School.

    Whether Whiteheads gets back on the Tour or not, one this is for certain, he won’t be following the sport on TV.

    “I hate watching darts, with a passion,” he declares. “I’d rather play. I watch darts and I think ‘they’re a load of rubbish, I’d be smashing them if I was playing’. I like watching snooker although that’s boring to a lot of people. I’m a film buff, I’ll watch three or four films a day.

    “I did watch Ross Smith at the European Championship recently because he’s a good mate of mine. But to be honest, I think watching is boring. Playing’s not though.”

    Conan Whitehead was speaking to the Daily Star in conjunction with the MODUS Super Series.


    • Read the latest darts news from the Daily Star here
    • Darts star apologises for 'Stone Cold Steve Austin gesture' after Grand Slam defeat
    • Fallon Sherrock claims she receives ‘hate’ on ‘hostile’ women’s darts tour
    • Raymond van Barneveld rolls back years by stunning Gerwyn Price at Grand Slam of Darts
    • PDC chief left red-faced after dropping ball during Grand Slam of Darts draw
    • Darts

    Source: Read Full Article