The Big Interview with RUSS BRAY

Unicorn Darts prize winners:
Marlo Montanaro, Peter Eikenhout and Josh Daynes
All win their choice of Unicorn Darts.


From Frederik Kevelam : How do you get your voice in good shape for a big televised tournament?

Russ Bray:I have recently been seeing a voice coach who has helped me exercise and train my voice for calling long periods in the day and maintain it for the duration of a tournament….so I have to exercise it some 40 minutes before I call which means I stand outside and shout out numbers and practice breathing….can be a bit bad when it is raining and cold.

From Peter (Netherlands) : Since Raymond van Barneveld joined the PDC there have been modifications in two Darts tournaments. (IDL International Darts League, WDT World Darts Trophy). Both touraments have changed the invitation system and now there are 4 places for PDC players and Raymond gets a wildcard. The International Darts League is allready played and was in my eyes it was a big succes, there were many atractive matches with a very good darts average and a new talent was recognised. Michael van Gerwen is knocking on the door. Maybe these changes are the beginning of a change into one worldwide darts organisation or not? What is your opinion for what should be the best for the future in darts Mr Bray?

Russ Bray: Good Question Peter, My personal opinion is there will not be a worldwide single darts organisation because for one, the PDC has advanced with the darts to an amazing level, what with the tournaments that are now there (with lots more to come), the opportunity for players to earn a good living on the professional circuit, lots of television coverage (Sky TV), and of course major sponsorships that have been contracted to the PDC. The best for the future in my opinion is, lots of TV coverage, top class darts tournaments and the players earning and getting the coverage and profiles they deserve, which is what has happened now.

From Dart-Schläng (Germany) : Hello Russ, First of all I think it´s a good to have the chance of asking you some questions, because you are very popular in England, but darts is not that big in Germany as it is in England. So here´s a question you may be asked a few times - What do you think is nessesary to be a good referee and when did you realize that you´re as a referee one-of-a-kind?

Russ Bray: Thank you for the compliment at the end my friend, but to be a good referee you obviously have to know the dart board inside out eg: all the shot outs and be able to count, multiply and subtract etc. Have a good idea which way a player will take his shots out, be confident in what you do and if you do make a mistake….forget it, don’t dwell on it. I became a county caller and went on to the PDC and my style of calling is just something that developed over the years.

From Warren (Australia) : G’Day Russ, just a few questions for you.
1. What was the most awkward moment on stage calling and how did you rectify that?
2. What advice would you give to up and coming callers/referee’s that may want to get into the game and take it on as it to them may be their (pardon the pun) calling?
3. In Holland, did you find the language barrier there hard? I mean for example you called in English and despite the scoreboards etc the public like to hear the calls. Did you get any feedback about the language barrier? If so what was it?

Russ Bray: G’Day Warren, first, most awkward moment that I can think of was with Peter Manley when he hit a score and I called ‘No Score’ He retrieved his darts and the other player threw his darts. When Peter came up to the Oche he said he had 16 left. Blind Panic now because my mind went blank on what he scored on his previous throw.
We went through what Peter had scored and he did have 16 left. I corrected his score and he hit the double 8….Got some stick for that off the lads, all good hearted though.
Secondly I answered that question to Darts-Schlang, confidence, knowledge of the board and plenty of practice, and finally, calling in Holland is not a problem because the majority speak English but I can call in Dutch if necessary but it does sound some what different. At an exhibition I'll open up in Dutch, but quickly revert to English as my Dutch is not good at all, but they do appreciate me trying.

From John Connors (Florida, USA) : When setting up the board for steel tip youth darts (under 18) competition, what are the following measurements?: Board Height, Throwing line, Throwing lane or is it the sames as adult competition?

Russ Bray: Hi John, although there are different throwing lengths for different competitions the height of the board etc is the same as for the adults.

From Jim MacDonald (Canada) : As a referee, (and the finest in the biz I might add), which player or match do you recall being the hardest one to score? I mean no disrespect to the player but only that he may be unpredictable or unorthodox in what he or she may shoot for. My guess would be Eric Clarys of Belgium (Get well soon Eric) because of his expert thinking on different or unorthodox outshots.

Russ Bray: Thank you Jim….without doubt the hardest players to call for are Erik Clarys (hopefully making good recovery) and of course a certain Mr Steve Brown who is living in the US........both throw unorthodox and unpredictable ways, but a little word with both of them before you call their game in as much as ‘if you go a different way please give me clue’ fortunately both are great guys and do oblige with that.

From Paul Whitworth (Manchester) : If an opposing team had a player who was barred from an opposing teams pub,and he was their best player and the two teams were due to play last game of the season for the league title. What would you recomend if the landlord wouldnt let the player in just to play his game?

Russ Bray: Paul, Hallo mate, you being a landlord I think you could of at least let the guy play and give them a chance to win the league, but if you banned him for being their best player, may the Salford Devil rise and rip off the most important part of your body…….your one single brain cell. l'll catch ya later bud.

From Chris Ward : In interviews I've read and heard over the years dart players have a period before a match where they'll hit the practice board or chill out before a big game, what do you do?

Russ Bray: Hi Chris, I don’t really do a lot, just sit and relax and chat with people, drink coffee and just generally chill out. Afterwards is a little different though.

From Marlo Montanaro (Eatontown, NJ, USA): Hi Russ, I'm curious what you think it will take to get darts really popular in the US, especially on television? The World Series of Darts was a good start, but the television ratings fell sharply after the last American was defeated. Should the format be changed? Should they just televise more international darts? Does it even matter? Is it a money thing, or will it never have the popularity it has in Europe?

Russ Bray: Hallo Marlo, Darts in the US is very big in fact, but with the World Series as you rightly say, once the last US player was eliminated then the ratings fell. Maybe the format could be a round robin style, where they all play each other till you reach a last 4 which would be the last episodes on the TV. All the previous episodes would certainly have US interest. Televised darts is without doubt the best way to get the game into the homes of everyone, so the more TV the better and yes televise more darts in the US. With the US being as vast as it is, darts can certainly be as popular as in Europe, but it has major competition with your main sports being, Baseball, American Football,Ice Hockey and Basketball. If there was something like a National Darts League across the States, televised as your other sports are, then I think you would have massive interest in the homes and of course then emerging US players that can compete at the highest level like Ray Carver, John Kuczyinski, Darin Young etc. AND IT DOES MATTER.

From Joshua Daynes (Ontario, Canada) : What was your feeling the first time taking the TV Stage as a Referee? Do you think a Referee makes the game of darts more interesting and what in your opinion can people do all over the world to make darts a household sport?

Russ Bray: Hi Joshua…..My feelings the first time on the stage was anxiety, nerves, excitement and Oh Hell I hope I don’t screw up here…feelings I will never forget..wonderful. If you are watching great dart matches on your TV then the game will become a household sport as in England and Holland. TV is very important.

From Daniel Chapman (Plymouth) : Hey Russ, Being no doubt the best referee in the business, how do you deal with the crowd shouting out? Do the players comment to you whether a section of the crowd is trying to put them off or is it down to your personal opinion?

Russ Bray: Thank you Daniel for your kind words. The crowd can at times become a little noisy and some of the time the players will say to me to have a word with them to give a bit of order when they are throwing and sometimes if I think it is too loud then I will ask for order. But in the main, the crowds we have are tremendous and very supportive.

From XC-600 (Canada) : Hello Russ, I've been using a Unicorn Eclipse for 2 yrs and recently bought 10 Eclipse Pro boards for our Club.These boards are awesome. My question is: Last year in the PDC I noticed that the wires on the Eclipse looked like they had a white powder coating on them. Our boards don't have it and my older board didn't either. What was the purpose of it ?

Russ Bray: Hi XC-600, The reason for Unicorn making that board with a white coating on the spiders was purely for Sky TV, who said that it would make the dart stand out more, once it had been thrown and entered the board. As this has to be coated on because you cant colour steel, the steel tip of the dart hitting the coating would chip it, thus making close up on the board not as Sky would want. They now have a nickel coating on them that does not chip.That is the difference between the boards my friend.