The Betfair Big Interview: Peter Wright tells how Ally Pally saved his career

I want this . . .Peter Wright with the PDC World Darts Championship Trophy
I want this . . .Peter Wright with the PDC World Darts Championship Trophy

If there's one sports event that sets the standard for razzamatazz it's the PDC World Darts Championship. And if there's one player who sets the standard for showmanship it's number three seed Peter Wright. Betfair sat down with the man of the multi-coloured hair to share his thoughts

"You watch all these amazing players on the telly and you think: ‘Can I be as good as that, can I be anywhere near them?’ Well now I think: ‘Yes I can, and I can be better too.’"

Hi Peter, first just tell us about the atmosphere at Ally Pally and what it's like to play in.

Just amazing. It starts when you are in the taxi coming up the hill, and you see the arena itself with the great glass window You get butterflies in your stomach thinking: 'Oh oh, here it comes again'. It's just the best atmosphere from the crowd, everybody is having a good time, dressing up. So much positive energy - it is simply the best party place there is.

So as a bit of a showman that must bring an extra level from you?

Oh yes. You don't want to let your fans or the crowds down, or the viewers. You go up another notch. You become, I don't know, just a lot better, and more focused than at any other tournament. I can't really explain how or why because it is a really weird feeling, but it is true.

Of course it was the scene of one of your best moments when you were runner-up three years ago. How do you look back on that?

It was huge for me. At the time I'd decided to quit the sport, so it was going to be my last tournament.


Yes. My situation was I had no sponsor, the money situation wasn't right, and I was ready to call it a day. But then I did really well and everything changed. If I'm honest even though I got to the final I wasn't ready to win a world championships then, but I've learned a lot since and I think I am ready to win it now.

So that year pretty much turned round your career?

Absolutely. Confidence is so huge in sport, and after that I felt I belonged at that level. My ranking has been going up ever since. It's the hardest thing, to believe in yourself. You watch all these amazing players on the telly and you think: 'Can I be as good as that, can I be anywhere near them?' Well now I think: 'Yes I can, and I can be better too.'

So how's the preparation going for this one?

Good. For the past couple of months things have been alright. I have got darts I am happy with now, I've been with them about six weeks, and had really good results so far. I'm looking forward to the worlds to step up with them.

It seems a big thing to have new darts so close to the biggest tournament?

It's something I have always done. I said when I first signed for Red Dragon that it would be a long journey but if they stuck by me it would be worth it, and finally we have managed to make something I am happy with. I put a lot into the design myself, we work together.

People will talk about getting your hair right for the tournament, but we're guessing that hides a lot of serious preparation?

Oh yes. Obviously on a match day the routine calls for just a bit of practice, then have my hair done while I'm relaxing, which can take two or three hours. Then I'll go to the venue three hours before and do a bit more practice, but the serious work has already been done.

What does that involve?

You've got to have a really solid month before. Spend a lot of time. You do the main work then at home or in your local club, and then what happens at the venue is just helping you brush up. But the last couple of months I've really put the hours in.

We don't want to put you on a downer but tell us about losing 16 times in a row to Michael Van Gerwen. Is he still the big barrier to you winning this?

I'm ready to change that. If you don't believe you can beat anybody then you shouldn't be playing. I'm getting closer to him and this year I think it could be the time to get past him.

Phil Taylor dominated the sport for years, and now Michael is the new number one. What's so special about him?

He's special because he is young. When you are young nobody in the world bothers you. You think you can beat anybody and that's what he is doing. But he doesn't have the consistency that Phil Taylor has. Phil rarely dips, but Michael will burst a great nine darter or two and then go off. That's where I think he can still be caught.

You've got James Wade and Gary Anderson in your part of the draw.

I'm not bothered. You have to beat them at some stage, and right now I'm more worried about being spot on for my first match on Friday night against the winner of Jerry Hendriks and Warren Parry. I'll be watching from the back room seeing how they play, how they handle the crowds, and make sure I'm up to the mark.

We hope it goes well - and finally we can't get away from the hair. What colour will it be?

Ha, I've not got a clue myself, that's part of the fun. That's up to Jo my wife and she hasn't told me yet.
We're sure it will look amazing. We've a free £50 bet for a favourite charity to say thanks for your time
Superb - I'll nominate Newlife which helps provide equipment for disabled and terminally ill children. And I'm going to back Liverpool to win the Merseyside derby on Monday night at even money.

* The William Hill World Darts Championship will take place at Alexandra Palace, London from December 15-January 2, and will be shown live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel as part of a festive season which includes Premier League football, EFL and Test match cricket.

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