Dennis Priestley Interview

We spoke to Dennis recently in respect of something to be featured on DartsMad at a later date, however the conversation turned to general darts chat so I took the opportunity to do a wee off the cuff interview.

DM: Is 2011 the end of the road for for your professional career, there was talk of things winding down last year I believe?

DP: Yes it’s the perfect year for winding down, to be honest I’ve not found it enjoyable, and it is starting to become a chore and hard work.

DM: But no official retirement date or announcement is planned though right?

DP: No the plan is to gradually wind it back, I’ll still be doing exhibitions and things like that but not all the travel and hard competition. Its all right for the lads in their 20’s and 30’s. I didn’t turn pro until I was 40, and it was easy then but 20 years of darts has taken it’s toll!

DM: You didn’t make the GSOD this year, is there any disappointment there?

DP: Having only competed once in the very first year, I cant really say that I’ll miss it. I’m not really a fan of the format to be honest, round robins can be manipulated as I found out when I did play.

DM: As the Slam kicks off at the weekend, do you have any insider tips for our readers?

DP: You have to look at the obvious candidates, start with Phil Taylor and work back from there.

DM: Do you think Scott Waites can retain it?

DP: I would be very shocked if he did, it would be nice for a Yorkshire lad to win it. I think he took everyone by suprise last year but I don’t think he will do it again.

DM: Will you be looking to get to the World Championship via the qualifier  this year?

DP: Yes I shall have a go in Wigan, try and go out in a grand array at the World Championships.

DM: Good luck with that, we would really love to see you get to Ally Pally, but it’s not an easy route is it?

DP: No it’s not as I found out at the recent GSOD qualifier,with the number of entries being twice as much as a pro tour, by the time I had I had won my board of 16 I was cream crackered!

DM: We attended the Bullseye Theatre Tour last week in Derby, what do think to bringing Bully back, whether it be the theatre/TV whatever?

DP: I think it would be great entertainment, it’s something I would like to be involved in…… but I wasn’t asked!

DM: Maybe that’s because your still playing, perhaps in the future….presumably you are good friends with the likes of Bristow, Lowe and Anderson. So that type of thing, and exhibitions will be a big part of the future for you?

DP: Yeah to be honest I still enjoy that part of darts (exhibitions), people who have seen you on television get a chance to meet you in person and it’s quite an enjoyable event. It’s nice to go along and play a little bit, then mess about and entertain. You have to play it by ear you know which ones are serious and which ones are just there for the craic.

DM: So does the Menace have a signature trick shot that he brings out in exhibitions?

DP: Well you go for the double doubles etc, leave the 150 finishes. I have only done it twice but I have hit three bulls through a piece of paper which is a crowd pleaser.

DM: Nice! Looking back at your serious playing career, then is there any defining moments or events that you are most proud of.

DP: Obviously winning the Embassy gave me the opportunity to become a professional darts player, and a 20 year career. And then to be the first PDC World Champion, its always nice to be the first. And also the winner of both World Championships.

DM: Of the current crop of newer players do any stand out head and shoulders above the rest to you?

DP: Phil is still a notch above but there is a fairly even playing field below him, two nice fluent players are Lewis and Anderson when on song are very good players. But there’s others…..

DM: You have always been known as a steady player, but what do you think about Justin Pipe?

DP: Obviously he’s slower than I ever was, but he gets the job done and good luck to him. I spoke to him at the weekend and we were saying that it takes so much out of you playing the way we play, than the fluent players like Gary and Adrian. So its all about concentration and is a hell of a lot harder, Justin has the determination and is a lovely kid and I wish him all the best.

DM: Back to your own game, at the CLOD recently you had a decent run didn’t you?

DP: Yes that Crondon Park thing, I was very pleased and pleasantly surprised how I lasted the pace, I had a lot of 6-5 wins and ended up playing 94 legs that day. Which is too much for at 20 years old let alone 60 odd, I set off well in the finals winning the first 3 but then fatigue did eventually take over. It’s a shame I didn’t qualify a couple of days earlier or something like that, instead of on the last day with the finals the next.

DM: So what does the future hold for you post professional darts?

DP: I’m planning to fade into the sunset and enjoy my retirement!

DM: Would you consider coaching or anything like that?

DP: I would consider anything if the demand was there, even commentary or something like that. I’ve never been asked to do anything TV wise, I dont know if its down to the broad accent maybe.

DM: Well Sid Wadell has made a career out of exaggerating his regional accent hasn’t he! It would be a logical step and you have the experience to draw on. I hope some kind of offer does come along, there’s a few ex pro’s having a go at it…but if not just enjoy the retirement eh? Thanks very much for talking to us.

DP: Alreet bud, cheers – all the best……