Rob Cross did our Big Interview before Ally Pally and waltzed away with the trophy, so now Jamie Hughes takes his turn to see if he can catch the same Betfair stardust ahead of the BDO World Championship...
"Glen Durrant doesn’t seem to have a bad throw, and he always seems to take his shots out when he needs to. He hurts the opposition, if you make a mistake he doesn’t. He just grinds you down."
Hi Jamie. So the PDC version with all it's razzamatazz is over, tell us about Lakeside as a venue.
History, that's the word. I think that's what people turn up to it for, it's the home of world darts and has been for more than 40 years now. It has the most history so that's what gives it the appeal, all the wonderful things that have happened there, going back to the days when the likes of Eric Bristow were huge stars.
So can you feel that around you when you play?
Absolutely, especially on the opening weekend. The first session on the Saturday there is almost like an electricity in the air, and it is the same on finals night. There's an anticipation that something special is going to happen.
If the first day is so special is it frustrating you don't start until Tuesday?
To be honest in three of the last four years I haven't played until Tuesday night, so I am quite used to that. I think it kind of gives me a bit of time to acclimatise and get settled. I'll go and watch the first afternoon session and immerse myself in the atmosphere, and then after that I'm just kicking over myself, practising whenever I find a gap and getting ready for my game.
You're in decent shape aren't you, you won the British classic and three semi-finals recently?
Yes but to be honest it is all on the day. Anything can happen. That said I'm feeling confident because I have put a lot of good work in. I have done a lot of good practice with another player who is from Tipton like me, his name is Scott Baker, so that's helped to have quality practice.
So do you like to have competition when you are practising, rather than just going through routines on your own?
Definitely, especially for this because it is the only time on the BDO where it is best of five a set. The only other tournament we play sets in is the world masters, which is best of three. It's a lot different to what we are used to playing, so when you have another competitive player, and you can go through that set format with them, it has been beneficial to both of us.
Tell us about your career?
When I was little, my uncle worked for British waterways, and he found a set of darts on the tow path one day when he was working on the canals. He gave them to me and I started throwing with them and really liked them, and it started from there. I just kept playing, and practising to get better, and then started playing really competitively about 10 years ago.
You've been on the BDO circuit for five years, what's the secret to building the consistency?
Just hard work and dedication. I have probably played on average five times a week over those ten years in all, so it's a very high level of dedication. Put the hours in and you take back.
Glen Durrant is a huge favourite in our market for Lakeside and we know you are friends with him. Tell us about him.
To be honest he is head and shoulders above everybody, really. He has been for the last two years, as he has proved with his results, and the icing on the cake was winning the world championship last year. I think he's been a great champion during his reign too. What he brings is that he is so consistent on his scoring and doubles. He doesn't seem to have a bad throw, and he always seems to take his shots out when he needs to. He hurts the opposition, if you make a mistake he doesn't. He just grinds you down.
Who should we look for among the younger players?
Well the more I have practised with Scott the more dangerous I think he might be. He's won a couple of tournaments this year. He's making his debut, not a lot of people know much about him, but if he gets through his first round - he has a very tricky game against Andy Baetens on Monday night - he could go very far.
What about yourself? You've been in the semi-finals the last two years, what will make the difference to go further?
This year I keep away from Durrant! I wouldn't meet him until the final if we both got that far, and that will be a help. He's been a bit of a thorn in my side just recently, and the last two years. I've just got to concentrate on my game, but hopefully the preparation I have done this time will prove key and I'll be in the right mode for competitive darts. All about keeping focused for each match.
That's almost exactly what Rob Cross said about his preparation - fingers crossed it has the same effect for you.
I certainly hope so.
Meanwhile we've a free £50 bet with winnings to a favourite charity to say thanks for your time.
That's great. My charity will be Heart of Darts so that's the easy bit. I'm a big Wolves fan but at 1/10 there's not much to be made on that, so I'll let you choose the bet. If you happened to back me at [17.0] to win at Lakeside I won't argue!