Nick Matthew column: Squash star can’t help loving the darts

Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor

As a keen sports fan myself, the Christmas period is a great time to watch sport.

I have watched quite a lot of cricket in the last couple of weeks. The Big Bash competition seems to be on TV whenever I have gone to the gym.

It has been impossible to miss the darts. The timing of the PDC World Championship is perfect between Christmas and New Year because people are able to take time off during the day and holiday season to go watch it.

I try my best not to like darts but I get sucked into watching it. At the end of the day, I feel like it is a pub game but I get drawn into watching it by the music and atmosphere. People let their hair down and have a few pints at the darts.

My wife, Esme, and I have already said we want to go watch it in the future. It’s about value for money in sport and punters find darts entertaining.

Darts players are skilful at what they do. You’ve got to have the nerve, ability and technique to hit the doubles under pressure. There is a lot of tension and pressure to keep that consistency going for a long period of time. If you lose your rhythm at any point, you could be out of the game.

Phil Taylor deserves a huge amount of credit for raising darts’ profile. He is an icon with 16 world titles and there are few people in sport who can come close to matching that achievement.

You have even got some people now calling it for to become an Olympic sport. Darts is good fun and is good entertainment but if it becomes an Olympic sport before squash then we all might as well go home. I enjoy watching it but that is where I draw the line.

PDC chairman Barry Hearn has done a great job in taking darts to the masses. Hearn did a similar thing with snooker in the 1980s and 1990s. He seems to know how to promote a package of sport.

Hearn gets bums on seats in massive venues, makes sure TV coverage goes up and increases the prize money for tournaments so everyone loves it. He turns the players into celebrities.

I would love to get a Barry-Hearn-type figure involved in squash to try to take our sport on to the next level. When I see the darts, I am really jealous of the atmosphere and the good time that people are having at the events. It would be great to get some of that razzamataz in squash.