Mark 'Top Banana' Holden
17th March 2007
Bigwigs, Audenshaw @ UK Open NW Regional Finals
DartsMad - Hi Mark, sit yourself down and let me get you a pint. Thanks for talking to us having been pounced on unannounced! So, you’re back playing and pounding the circuit. Tell us what you have been up to since we last saw you on the oche and why we haven’t seen you for a while.
Mark Holden - Well I’m back playing again after 18 months out. Basically, I was a landlord and running the pub was taking all my time, which meant I couldn’t dedicate myself properly. It was a pub that needed very tight control and whenever I was away playing darts something would happen. It was getting that I was unable to leave the pub for any length of time and I just ended up not playing. I’ve given the pub up now and am working for Littlewoods Catalogues. I have more time to practise and concentrate on my darts.
DM - I saw you at the Oldham Open recently where you got to the final and looked to be playing well. How’s your comeback going?
MH - I’m practising hard and very confident that I can get back to where I was…and more. I’m enjoying it and feeling good. I don’t fear anybody and know I can beat anybody on my day so I’m going to give it my best and see where it takes me. The Oldham Open was my first real game for 18 months and I got to the final. Dave Chisnall played well that day and deserved to win – he even went on to beat Bob Anderson in the Champions Challenge! And he missed a 9-darter on the double so fair play. But it gave me a lot of confidence and I’ve gone on from there continuing to play well.
DM - Have you set yourself any targets?
MH - I haven’t set myself any targets – reaching the UK Open finals would be great but it hasn’t been a target for me specifically. My targets are more basic really – I just want to get back amongst it and be competing with the top guys again. I know I’ve got the ability and if I work hard enough I can get back up the rankings again. I’m definitely looking for sponsorship so if I did set a target it would be to try to get backing this year. Hint hint to everybody reading this!
DM - So how have you done today?
MH - I didn’t do too well today as it happens…typical! But I should have enough to qualify for Bolton and a win or two in the Midlands heats will cement my place. I enjoy the finals at the Reebok so I’m itching to get back there.
DM - It will be good to see you back on the major stage, playing on Sky again. The game needs characters so I hope it goes well for you.
MH - Cheers. I’ve got my own copyrighted walk-on song and I can’t wait to play it again. It was recorded for me by a mate who used to play with Simply Red. It’s only ever been played once, at the Winter Gardens, and nobody else is allowed to play it. The next time you hear it you will know I’M BACK!
DM - Right then, some lucky dip questions now. Pick three random questions from this list.
DM - Dennis Priestley with his Indian summer revival and Terry Jenkins with his late PL qualification must give inspiration to everybody. Who do you draw inspiration from?
MH - Eric Bristow. He’s a childhood hero of mine. I grew up watching him and then I was fortunate enough to get to know him. It isn’t often in life that you get to become friends with the person you admire in your sport. It’s a privilege for me and he’s definitely my inspiration.
DM - Best nickname in darts? Worst nickname in darts?
MH - Easy! Mine’s the best and Wes Newton’s is the worst. Avit!?? Rubbish. I told him ages ago what his nickname should be but he wouldn’t have it. The Codfather. He’s from Fleetwood and they love their fish and chips up there – it’s made for him but he went with Avit.
DM - When I’m at home I relax by picking up my darts and having a chuck. What do you do to switch off from your ‘day job’?
MH - Well I’m doing 2-10 shifts at the moment so I get home from work about 10:30 and practice until 2-3am. I’ve got six kids and it doesn’t leave much time for anything else so they are my distraction. My 14-year-old, Katie, is a solo artist so I’m enjoying helping her get her singing career going. She performs around the pubs and clubs and is on the books of Natural Talent in Hyde. She’s entered the X-Factor and is very good so watch this space!
DM - Cheers Mark, thanks for your time today. We here at DartsMad.com wish you all the very best in your comeback. We will be watching and following your progress closely and we’ll catch up with you again at the UK Open to see the progress you’ve made.