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Interview: PDC world champion Gary Anderson

Sports Mole recently caught up with PDC world champion Gary Anderson ahead of the release of Fulwell 73's House of Flying Arrows documentary.

When 16 players decided to form the World Darts Council in 1992, it was created with the intention of establishing a greater image for the sport and to attract more sponsors, with the sole televised event at the time being the Embassy World Championship.

However, while the likes of Phil Taylor, Dennis Priestley and Eric Bristow were all confident of enhancing what was largely seen as a game played in a pub, they could not have foreseen the rise in popularity that has resulted in two men throwing arrows at a board attracting seven-figure numbers on satellite television and events around the world seeing demand outweigh supply.

While the crowds continue to flock to venues which hold as many at 15,000 people and sponsors insist on battering down Barry Hearn's door in an attempt to get a taste of a multi-million-pound industry, this sporting juggernaut will only move up a gear and whether you are a regular attendee at the ever-increasing number of tournaments or simply a casual viewer at home, Fulwell 73's House of Flying Arrows documentary will provide you with the ideal insight into how darts has transformed over the last 25 years.

While it is well documented that the stars of the sport are well rewarded financially, House of Flying Arrows will give you the opportunity to take a look at the mental and physical demand which is put on the players as a result of their increased exposure and how lives can be changed because they are able to take their ability and showcase it in front of thousands of spectators and a worldwide television audience.

Ahead of the release of the film, Sports Mole caught up with reigning PDC world champion Gary Anderson to get his thoughts on the progression of darts and his current form heading into next month's World Championship at Alexandra Palace.

Gary Anderson of Scotland celebrates winning his semi-final match against Dave Chisnall of England during the Betway Premier League at The 02 Arena on May 21, 2015© Getty Images

First of all, could you give a quick lowdown on the documentary and what viewers can expect to watch?

"The four of us have got together over the last 12 months and it's basically about what we get up to on the PDC Tour. It will also show people what we get up to away from the darts as well. I hope everyone will find it really interesting."

During your early years at Lakeside, did you ever think that darts had the potential to grow into what it is today?

"No, not at all. I wish that I had taken the decision to make the switch to the PDC much earlier. With the BDO, they are kind of stuck in their old ways. Don't get me wrong, I had some great times with the BDO and I had the chance to play for Scotland, but I just wish that I had come across a lot sooner than I did. I think I have been with the PDC for seven years but I wish it had been 12.

"I don't know why some of the top players in the BDO don't come over and give it a shot. It's got me baffled because even youngsters now aged 16 and 17, they want to play on the Challenge and Development Tours and they are making money playing there too."

Given the greater demands of darts today in comparison to 10 years ago, how has that changed your practice?

"I wouldn't say 10 years ago, it's probably been about five. If you had told us that we would be in Japan, Australia, New Zealand playing in big stages in front of big crowds, we would have probably laughed at you. Darts has changed so much. Barry has gone to town on the darts and there are youngsters all over the world getting involved. When you think it can't get any bigger, Barry comes up with something else and we are off on our travels again. It's absolutely huge right now."

How long do you feel it took for you to make the transition from playing two or three TV events a year with the BDO to playing regularly on Sky Sports?

"It helps because the lights at the Lakeside were atrocious! You get used to playing on the big stage. I was having a conversation with Michael Smith. He's only 25 but he gives himself a barracking if he doesn't play well on stage. It took me 20 years and I'm still learning. You never stop learning, especially on the big stage. Sometimes in the Premier League on Thursday nights, you are playing in front of 14,000 people. It can be scary at times but you learn to play on the big stage."

As a world champion, your PR responsibilities have increased massively. How difficult has it been to find a balancing act between that, family life and darts?

"What life?! It's been hectic but I have only ever been busy. It's only really been the World Series that has changed things to a certain extent because you are away for an extra six weeks. It's been hectic but it's been good. If I never do it again, I've had a great time and loved every minute of it."

Gary Anderson of Scotland celebrates winning a set during his semi final match against Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands on day thirteen of the 2015 William Hill PDC World Darts Championships at Alexandra Palace on January 3, 201© Getty Images

Last month, you reached the final of the World Grand Prix. After having some time to reflect on it, how would you reflect on the tournament as a whole?

"It was good, but it was just a pity I got battered in the final! I played well, especially with it being double-start. If you don't hit that double right away, you are in trouble. In the final, I feel as though I scored well but the way he was playing, 5-2, at least I got a couple of sets off him. It wasn't too bad but I'm warming up nicely."

Would it be fair to say he was unplayable at times during that final?

"He can be, but there are a lot of players out there who can match him. It's just about turning up. Everything is on the day. You play well one day and struggle the next. If I played like I did against Raymond, I would have fancied my chances. I was quite happy with making the final anyway."

Michael van Gerwen is the player to beat right now but he's had a couple of blips recently. Can you take any confidence from that or is it purely about concentrating on your own game?

"I just turn up. If the right Gary turns up, they better watch out. If the Gary of old turns up, it's going to be a struggle but it doesn't matter really. If you don't play well, you move on to the next one."

With the World Championship around the corner, do you feel under pressure to try to win a third or is the pressure on Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and the rest to take it off you?

"There will be no pressure on me whatsoever. I'm over the moon with what I have done in my darts career so there is more pressure on Michael. Everyone will be expecting Michael to win it, but you've still got Phil Taylor who is going for a 17th, Adrian wants his third and I want my third. Others will be wanting their first and you might get a surprise package come out of nowhere. I'm over the moon with what I have done so that will take the pressure off me."

House of Flying Arrows is now available on digital download and available on Blu-Ray and DVD from 14th November 2016.

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Michael van Gerwen of Holland celebrates winning a leg during his third round match against Terry Jenkins of England during the William Hill PDC World Darts Championships on Day Nine at Alexandra Palace on December 29, 2014
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