The Big Interview with JOHN LOWE
Unicorn Darts prize winners:
Mike Berg, James Taylor, Draconus
All win their choice of Unicorn Darts.
From Rudy (Holland) : Mr. Lowe, in your over 30 year-long career you have achieved countless titles and milestones and it's been not until last year that you've slided down the PDC rankings. Isn't it very difficult for a man who's been the best in the business, measured over your full 30 years as a pro, to experience this step back, knowing you could still do a pretty good job on the majority of the players ranked higher than you? Or has it been a well contemplated decision of yours to no longer participate in the hunt for ranking points?
LOWE : Rudy, you have asked a question that has been on many peoples mind over the last year, now I have the chance to answer truthfully to all those people. I carefully considered my future in the sport of darts last year, after 35 years of competitive play, 30 years of those professional play, I still found myself in the top echelon of the sport, competing, but not necessarily beating the best, ok, on my day I would put out the very best.
The time came when I had to make a decision, do I carry on seeking those ranking points as you put it, or do I find my rightful place within the sport, promoting to others, by this I mean, playing exhibitions, writing informative articles, doing presentations and taking part in promotions. I consulted my wife, who told me whatever I chose to do she would support me and respect my decision, so, after careful consideration to all avenues open to me I decided that if I was to remain within the sport I would have to cut back on the many thousands of miles of travel needed to earn those vital ranking points. Darts unlike any other sport does not protect it's champions of the past, I find that the status quo of dart playing is: you are only as good as you are, rightly or wrongly, that is how it is, so between us, that is myself and darts ruling body (in this case the PDC) it was not to difficult to make my decision .
I am still a member of the Professional Players Association and that entitles me to compete in any qualifying events I may chose to enter, undoubtedly I will take up that privilege and who knows, Old Stoneface may well make that walk to the stage to the tune of Smoke on the Water.
From Ben Roberts, Preston, Lancs : Your autobiography has just been released. Was it an easy decision for you to put personal life as well as your professional one in the public eye? Do you think you will go one step further and win another world title? and finally have you ever regretted leaving the BDO and starting with the PDC?
LOWE : Ben, Can I answer your questions backwards? I do not regret leaving the BDO, in fact I did not leave, I along with 15 other players were banned from competing in any BDO tournaments, I may add, illegally banned as the High Court in London rightly found.
I am a great admirer of the BDO system and many people within that system, however as time has passed that very system and the people who operate it have become tired, staid and blinkered to the modern times of the 21st century. The PDC have and are offering something new, something exciting, they are by their innovations bringing new followers of the sport, creating a spectator base that is the envy of many sports in the UK, they will not, dare not sit back and say “we have the magic formula” if they do they will eventually not only replace the BDO but will become just as tired, I trust that answers your question.
Can I win another world championship? Realistically, no, but then again life is not always realistic, is it? So in all truthfulness, the answer is, YES.
My Autobiography was always meant to be about me, my life within the sport and outside of the sport, I have become sick of reading sports autobiographies that tell only of “Look what I have won” just a way of writing 100,000 words, enough to fill a book, I wrote the book for myself, I did not like everything I read but I feel I am a better person for doing it, we all make mistakes, I chose to share mine with the world, for the ones who have not read it yet, it is available at: www.john-lowe.net.
From Paul Woolf, Chesterfield UK : When you finally decide to stop playing in dart tournaments and entertaining in the exhibition circuit do you think you will stay in this country or do you think you will consider retiring to another country, if so which country and why? p.s. If you do can I house sit for you!!
LOWE : Mr Woolf, for the ones out there who do not know Paul, he is one of the most dedicated followers of the sport of darts in the world and I am proud to call him one of my friends, your question is one that I have thought about for many a long time, I do own a green card, so I can live in America any time I wish, I also frequent the Island of Tenerife quite a lot, so much so that I have become well known within the community, darts and otherwise. I have my own John Lowe golf and darts classic there and yes I could easily reside there in future years. I also visit many other countries around the world, Thailand where my good friend David Brook lives, a wonderful country with wonderful people. To be honest I find all countries have something good about them, something others do not have, I am sure most people will agree South Africa is the supreme example of natures perfection, am I digressing? I guess not, you asked the question, I have tried to cover my reasons for not living abroad, well not just yet. The truth is, I am so busy with my involvement within the sport, this year I will be out of the country for no less than 20 weeks, most have that representing darts, I have no time to say, lets sell up and move, but that's not to say one day I will, so Paul you and I are no nearer knowing when, of course you will be the first to know when we need a house sitter.
From Draconus : Dear John,with the success of the Premier League Darts Competition on Sky, and the decision to officially classify darts as a sport, do you think it would be time to form a structured league for televised darts to give greater audience for new and upcoming players not just the top 8 seeds, allowing centre stage experience for players currently in the shadows.
LOWE : Draconus, You make a valid point, however what you suggest has been tried and in it's day was very successful, the BDO had the International matches between the home countries televised for many years, this in itself was a darts league with 15 players on each side taking part, it was innovative in it's day but it became old hat and to be honest boring after a while. The Premier League is good television with record audiences being received time after time, it must be pointed out it is not a PDC event, it is owned by Matchroom who specialize in providing SKY TV with varied sporting events, I have found it to be good viewing, however in recent weeks I have found that some of the players involved just seem to be going through the motions of throwing darts, the money is safe so to speak, no visual intention of showing they really do care about a non performance, if I feel like that, what do the general public feel? Barneveld has come to the rescue of the league in 2006, I honestly feel if it is to be successful in future years the bottom three players must step out and new players take their place, it cannot be the top six players from the PDC rankings plus whoever the promoter decided should make up the seventh, it is not a PDC event so the promoter should be free to introduce who he feels will keep the momentum going in future years, how about: Bristow and Lowe !!
From Miles Bim Liddell St Hubert Quebec Canada: Good Day Mr Lowe My question to you Sir is a 2 parter: Do you find the caliber of darts played today superior than when you started 30 years ago?? If yes,What would you say the key contributing factors would be?
LOWE : Miles, I have made a careful examination of the standard of darts played today compared to the standard of yesteryear. I find in general the overall standard has improved, however and this is a big, big statement, it is not necessarily the players who have improved, it is the new design standard of today's dart boards that have made the players look superior. Now I know that has made you wonder. When I completed the perfect game of 501 in 9 darts in October 1984 the dart board was a Winmau, it had big round wires and staples to hold the wires to the board, the supreme dart board of today is the Unicorn Eclipse, it's wires are wafer thin and there are no staples, the wires are so thin that the treble is almost one third larger than in 1984. My theory is justified when you look at the number of 9 dart games achieved over the last 5 years, also the number of 180's scored in televised events, it is like having the goal posts widened at football. So, I will let you decide for yourself, do you think the players are that much better, or like me do you think they have been helped by the larger scoring area?
From Mav 666: John, ever since I started going to the pub darts has been my game of choice. The 1st set I bought were your signature set from Argos back in 1989, and I remember they came in a blue case! I have just started playing with the new Phil taylor signature set as they fit my playing style now. My question is as dart making technology has developed how much do you think this has had an impact on players abilities today?
LOWE : I am a great believer in technology, I am known as the gadget man at home, whatever is introduced to the market I have to have it, I had a web site long before many players owned a computer, what's this got to do with darts? Simple, it's an illustration that technology waits for no one, if you do not keep up you get left behind. I suggest the reason you changed from the John Lowe signature darts to the Phil Taylor darts was because it is Phil Taylor who is doing all the winning these days. Many players buy Phil's darts because they are convinced if they work for him they can work for you.
Sometimes it is true, but it is the throwing action that make the darts work. Phil has a unique action that is very difficult to copy, I have a orthodox action that can be copied and can be taught. I believe brass darts had the best grip of any material used to make the barrels, now we have the Titanium Gold Darts that have almost the same feel and grip as brass, at the moment it is mainly the accessories that are developing, shafts, flights etc. I am sure technology will produce something in the near future that may revolutionise the dart as we know it, maybe a new material will be used, or a method of manufacturing that will allow the dart to propel itself to the target more accurately, whatever it is, it will happen and I will be the first to try it out.
From Jeffrey, Heerhugowaard The Netherlands : Dear Mr. Lowe,As for myself, I play Unicorn darts from the beginning. That means that since 1996 I play with this brand. Everyone has it's own choice in the huge amount of suppliers in dart articles. For me the looks, feel and especially the grip of a dart are the main things to make a final choice and I think Unicorn is the best in these subjects on the market. My question: what are the main issues for you, what a dart should feel/look like and why did you choose Unicorn ?
LOWE : Jeffery, You have asked the question and answered it for me. Unicorn are without doubt the leaders in world darts, they introduced the first tungsten darts. Barry Twomlow was the first player to compete in a major competition with them in 1969, since then Unicorn have led the market in innovation. Today's Tungsten Titanium Golden Darts are without equal, Unicorns Eclipse Dart board is also the brand leader and the board used by the leading professional players. Of course I believe a dart should look like the John Lowe signature dart in titanium, not only in the traditional steel tip range but also the soft tip, it continues to be a tested and trusted model for beginners and professionals alike, maybe you should try a set, who knows, you may find that missing link to your aim for perfection.
From Daniel Bebb-jones : Dear John, I'm only 11 but I'm a big unicorn fan and I would like to know how old you were when you started playing darts? Because I started playing darts when I was 10 and my dad says I'm getting better every day.
LOWE: Daniel, I started playing when I was 21, so you have the edge on me there. I am pleased you are improving, that is what keeps us all interested in the sport, I am currently writing a series of articles for Darts World, it is called: The Road Ahead, maybe your dad will buy Darts World for you, then you can read for yourself what it takes to get to the very top of the sport.
Keep using Unicorn darts, never be afraid to try different styles and always remember the three “P's” Practice, Patience, and Perfection. That should be your aim, it's not a bad idea to keep them in mind for your journey through life.
Good luck, one day I hope hear the MC call out on TV. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, Daniel Bebb Jones."
From Gerald Fisher : Hi John, I play darts in Johannesburg, South Africa and have always been a fan of yours and I have 2 people a brother and sister who play in our league who are also from Derbyshire. They are Bob Styan and his sister Rita Morris. They claim to know you and Eric Bristow and a few others personally. Bob Styan even sometimes brags about how he once beat you. Do you remember them. Bob Styan is affectionately known around our circles as "Uncle Bob" and he is a fantastic person.
LOWE : Gerald, If you had not told me he used to beat me I may have said I know him. But as you didn't, I am not so sure !! In all honesty I am sure they both know Eric and my self, we have appeared in many parts of the world including Chesterfield on more than one occasion.
From John Marcelli Casper, WY : First of all, thank you for taking my question. I would like to know what has been your biggest challenge both in the game of darts and outside the game of darts and whom or what has been your biggest help with these challenges?
LOWE : John, It's a pleasure to be able to answer your question. My biggest challenge within the sport as always been myself, the challenge to compete is always there for everyone, it's the challenge to win, to carry on winning, carry on improving and once you get there to remain there, that is a big challenge, I feel after 30 years I have met that challenge with vigour and consistency, outside of the sport I feel the challenge is just as important, I like to think I am a winner in life and I approach it with the same enthusiasm as I do my darts. We all need a little help and my help came from my great friend within the sport: Barry Twomlow, I am proud to say he was also my great friend away from darts, many is the time we have sat and played cribbage until the early hours of the morning accompanied by a Jack Daniels and a Cognac. I have another great source of help, yes, my wife is one, but there is another one very dear to me, it is a book written by Robin Sharma called: Who Will Cry When You Die, I recommend it to everyone.
From Sean Melody Cardiff : Hi John, I am 16 years old and got your autobiography for christmas. I think it is fantastic what you have achieved so far with some of the things you have been through. I was just wondering, have you got another major title in you? With yourself, Jocky Wilson and Eric Bristow pretty much dominating the BDO for years, is there any player you really rated that never got the big break they deserved?
LOWE : Sean, Thank you for the kind words, there are a few players who never got the break as you put it, not because they did not have the money to travel, or the sponsorship required, it was because they did not look for their break. The televised darts of today where players are seen to pick up huge cheques are a relatively new thing, I know many people say to me “You made a lot of money for that 9 dart game, £102,000,” but that was a one off, It wasn't my big break. I was always looking for success, most of the players in local leagues did not play outside of that league, now players are looking for their big break, confident they can make it, the cake is big enough to go round, so really I do not know of anyone who did not get a break, I only know of players who never looked for that break.
From Adam Greenhouse in Skelmersdale: It was noticeable in Phil Taylors final that he was wearing eyeliner (of course for the TV) have you ever been talked into some weird situations promoting darts?
LOWE : Adam, Now you have me looking at my DVD recording of the final, I was not aware that the Power scrubbed up for TV, I will of course have a word. I was once asked if I was interested in doing an advert for eye drops, I have always been known never to blink during throwing, nothing came of it though. I could quite easily promote my own shampoo now days, it would be called “Shoulders” I leave that one with you!
From Duncan Daniels : Hi John, I have been a massive fan of yours since I started playing darts back in the early 80's, on a yellow and black dartboard hung on the back of the kitchen door! I even got to meet you a couple of times at Purfleet. How do you maintain your concentration, shutting everything else out including your opponent and simply playing the board and your own game at your own pace? Very best wishes for the future John - look forwarding to seeing you at The Circus Tavern again soon.
LOWE : Duncan, Thanks for the support, it is people like yourself that have kept me in the sport for so many years, enough to want me to make that Circus Tavern stage one more time (who knows the PDC may one day take a look at golf and keep the golden oldies, well the champions invited back until they reach !!! ) Concentration as not been difficult for me until recent years, I could play darts for days and enjoy it, I still enjoy it but to concentrate for a couple of hours is now quite difficult. I was playing in a major tournament on TV only last year, I was winning 8 – 6 and I remember clearly thinking about my holidays, before I new it the score was 10 – 10, maybe you remember the match, I was still on the aeroplane when it was time to shake hands, I lost.
From Gregg Tong Boston, Massachusetts USA: Which part of the planet earth do you think will produce the next non-UK/EU world champion? Most would choose USA or Canada, but I am intrigued about the PDC's development activities in China, Japan and the rest of Asia. As a secondary question, within how many years do you think a US player will appear in the final of a PDC televised tournament and which American do you think has the best chance?
LOWE : Gregg, Big questions, I am not sure I have the answers. I know the Chinese will most certainly produce a champion of the sport, maybe a world champion in future years. Japan I feel will be the masters of the soft tip division, they are already playing to a very high standard and they do have the mentality to be succeed. I feel a little disappointed with America and Canada, being a visitor for many years (over 100 times to America) I have seen the sport grow and then slide backwards, soft tip did not help the progress of steel tip darts and I suppose there is a division now between the two, maybe the big money on offer this May will help to give the sport in America the boost it badly needs. The Dessert Classic is a great tournament but to be honest the prize funding in a city like Las Vegas is peanuts, punters are picking up more money on the slots and I can only surmise the Casino's would prefer it's visitors to be at the tables sooner than taking up space in the convention centre throwing darts. Well there I go again, I know I will not make many friends in the promoters circle with words like those, but that's where age does and can have a say. When you are young it is better to keep quiet, go with the flow. When you are, well, an older person, it is sometimes better to speak out for one and all. The last part of your question is unpredictable. I do not know, I would like to see an American in the final, I am sure you have some great players so far unheard of on these shores, but when it will be I do not honestly know.
From Mike Berg Rapid River, Michigan : Mr. Lowe, Though not competitive, I enjoy playing and watching darts. The U.S., lacking the long darts tradition of England, doesn't have enough darts exposure on television for my taste. Do you think a skins game format would interest players and the public? It sure seems to stimulate interest in golf. I think promotion would be fantastic as the legends of the sport would be guaranteed to be broadcast.
LOWE : Mike, I think a skins game would be fantastic, the format for each leg could be different, 501, cricket, round the board on doubles, a player having to win by a set margin or the money rolls on, what a great idea, I love it. Only if I get an invite to play !! You did say legends.
From Mike Kirby Boston MA, USA : Unicorn just recently signed a 3 year deal with Ray Carver - USA. The World Series of Darts in May 2006 will be held at Mohegan Sun in CT, USA and will be broadcast nationally throughout the US on ESPN. Texas Holdem just exploded in the US because of the "characters" of the game and darts seems to have similar "characters". Are these signs that darts is going to explode in the US in 2006?
LOWE : Mike, I hope you are right, of course it would help if an American did win, one million dollars would certainly get the public imagination, I have just answered a question similar to yours, America is a big country, it needs a big pay out to attract the youngsters to the sport, they say money doesn't matter, I say it does. So come on Mr Carver, go get that million.
From Jamie Hawkes : Hi John Lowe, i'm 18 and have just starting playing darts again for the first time in three years. My Dad says i'm better now than i ever was, and that i should start playing properly, i would like to know how. Also i would like to know what the pressure must feel like when you are throwing a dart to win the world championship. Thanks alot, yours sincerely, jamie hawkes.
LOWE : Jamie, I am sure most parts of your question have already been answered above, for the rest, go to: www.john-lowe.net take a look at: Tips from the Top, I am sure everything is there you need to know.
From James Taylor, President Northumbria University darts team : First of all i would just like to say that jonny lowe, you are a legend and will always be a legend in darts! My question to you is, Do you still think you can win a major tournament on the PDC circuit and how much practice are you still doing? is your love for the game as strong as when you were a World champ?
LOWE : Mr President, I have always wanted to start a letter that way, it sounds a lot better than Dear James. I practice every time I play an exhibition or do a promotion and believe me I do quite a few of both, my love for the sport is amazing, I am now becoming cynical in a constructive way. I wish no one within the sport any harm but I cannot help speaking out when I see players and organisers doing harm to the sport. Maybe you would consider inviting me to your University to conduct a question and answer session about the many aspects of darts (small fee of course). Can I win another championship? Well I am considering running a John Lowe Darts Classic on the Island of Tenerife. In the first year there will only be two contestants, one will be me, the other ? that will surely give me the win I need to make it four decades.
From Craig Knight Leicester : What is the single most important character trait one must possess to be a world champion?
LOWE : Craig, There is no single outstanding character trait, coordination cannot be achieved without involving more than one element, but you may have come up with the most outstanding contribution to being a world champion in your question. CHARACTER. You must have it on and off the board.