Gary Anderson in it for the long haul as PDC darts star takes aim at critics

All the world's a stage – and every year at Alexandra Palace, Gary Anderson would watch his favourite platform being built before owning it like a king.

Until his unfamiliar early exit in the third round last year, the Flying Scotsman had won more matches on the Ally Pally stage than any darts player.

On the north London summit where Anderson has so often planted the Saltire like the rest of us plant hyancinth bulbs in midwinter, it normally takes archeological-grade excavation to remove him.

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And ahead of his 15th assault on the north face of Muswell Hill – after winning two world titles, reaching three other finals plus two semi-finals since 2010 – Anderson revealed the secret routine behind his preparation.

‌“I don’t just rock up there and say, ‘I’m going to do this or do that' – it just happens, it’s weird.

“My birthday is just before Christmas, so I normally spend it in a hotel room. When I turned 50 during lockdown, I was sitting in my hotel room having a cup of coffee watching some rubbish on telly.

“But I always book the three weeks covering the whole tournament in the hotel, no matter what happens at the tournament, and I go up a good few days beforehand to get ready.

‌“I used to watch the stage being built at Ally Pally – I just love sitting and watching it all getting built. Nobody ever shows that, but I like watching how things are done.

“The boys who set up the stage never get any recognition, but It’s a cracking operation.”

‌Although he has slipped down to No.21 in the PDC order of merit, in-form Anderson is a modest 14-1 shot with the bookies to win the Paddy Power World Championship – and a week before he turns 54, there is no sign of him pulling up the ladder on his gilded career.

‌When he's had enough, he insists he will just exit, stage left, and retire to his fishing lakes in Somerset without a whimper, let alone a fanfare or lap of honour.‌

Anderson, who starts his latest campaign on Saturday night, said: “I’ll definitely not announce it, I’ll just be gone. That will be it. I’m not one for people knowing about my life blah, blah, blah. I like the quiet life.

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“Anyone who says ‘That’s him, he’s done' hasn't got a clue because they don’t know what goes on in my head or what's going on in my life. Not a clue.

“Ex-darts players, if someone is that rubbish or that good, why are they talking about it for a living? They should play themselves and prove us wrong, show us how it’s done properly. But they can’t, so they sit and talk about it.

“I don’t listen to them. I think they are full of poo. People have good days and bad days. Sometimes they are not very well but they turn up and struggle.‌

“I just try my damnedest to prove them wrong. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I'll never back down. I’m not bothered if I’m going to win or get beat, but when I’m on that stage, I want to play darts.

“The best moment? Playing Phil Taylor in the 2015 final and beating him – because that was his stage.

‌“People say I’ve never made it to world No.1, but Taylor was that far in front. I won two world titles back-to-back and lost in a third consecutive final, and I still never got close to his ranking.”

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