‘I started on £27 a week and hated my job’

Darts ti­tan Gary An­der­son picked up his first ar­row be­cause he couldn’t af­ford to play pool in the pub, he tells John Wright

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Money - Gary An­der­son will play in the Brad­ford Darts Masters on Oct 18. Tick­ets are avail­able at mjk­sport­sev­ents.co.uk

Gary An­der­son, 47, is a Scot­tish pro­fes­sional darts player who found fame in 2007 when he won the In­ter­na­tional Darts League, World Darts Tro­phy, Bri­tish Open, Scot­tish Open and North­ern Ire­land Open, end­ing the year as the of­fi­cial world num­ber one.

He won the Pro­fes­sional Darts Cor­po­ra­tion World Darts Cham­pi­onship in 2015 and 2016 and is a 10-time ma­jor win­ner.

To­day he lives in Burn­ham-on-sea, Som­er­set, with his part­ner Rachel, son Tai and daugh­ter Cheylea.

How did your child­hood in­flu­ence your at­ti­tude to money?

Mum and dad al­ways made sure you had some­thing at Christ­mas and birth­days. My dad worked for Bri­tish Re­lay as a TV engi­neer and my mum was a house­wife. So we’ve done all right. I lived in Mus­sel­burgh, East Loth­ian, un­til I was 24. My par­ents al­ways sup­ported me with the darts, es­pe­cially when I played for Scot­land.

I’ve al­ways worked, even when I was play­ing darts, so I wasn’t chuck­ing ev­ery­thing into a bag and gam­bling it.

What was your first job?

I left school at 17, did col­lege cour­ses where you learnt to weld and paint, gen­eral trades­man stuff, and were sent out to work for com­pa­nies. I got stuck in one for four months mak­ing fire­places, paid about £27 a week, but didn’t en­joy it there at all.

Then at 18 I got shifted to Fire­place Stu­dio in Por­to­bello, closer to my home town, and I worked there for 19 or 20 years, mak­ing fire­places.

I didn’t pick up a dart un­til I was 25. I was a late starter. I don’t think I could do a day’s work now. I love go­ing back home. I still like to get the tools out if any­thing needs do­ing – paint­ing and dec­o­rat­ing, wood­work, the bushes and the grass-cut­ting. I do it all my­self.

How much do you earn from darts?

When I won the World Cham­pi­onship in 2016 the prize was £150,000. This year, I won the World Match­play in Black­pool, win­ning £115,000, with an­other £45,000 for hit­ting a per­fect “nine-darter”. Win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League the other week in Brighton was £100,000. The Las Ve­gas Clas­sic was £20,000 plus ap­pear­ance money.

Are you a saver or a spender?

I kind of go with the flow. I try not to waste money. I bought an old Ford

Gary An­der­son earned £150,000 when he won the Wil­liam Hill World Darts Cham­pi­onsh­iop in 2016

Es­cort and put it away to show the kids what cars were like back in the Seven­ties and Eight­ies. To me that’s what cars look like.

Nowa­days it’s all com­put­ers and tablets – I’m more a pen and pa­per man. I get my wages ev­ery month and I put it in the bank and it sits there.

When I’m away trav­el­ling with the darts, ev­ery­thing goes through the busi­ness ac­counts. Pa­per­work comes through; I send it to my ac­coun­tant who does it all. I don’t get stressed. It’s in the bank. If I make noth­ing off it, I make noth­ing off it.

What were the best and worst things you’ve bought?

The best were my two Ber­nese moun­tain dogs and two bull­dogs.

The worst was a cross trainer be­cause it’s never been used. I bought it to get fit, but now I hang my coat on it. It’s star­ing at me right now. I keep hop­ing some­body takes it when I’m not look­ing.

Have you in­vested in prop­erty?

I’ve got my house, that’s it.

Have you ever had trou­ble pay­ing your bills?

No, even when I was a builder.

Is it true you took up darts as you couldn’t af­ford to play pool?

Aye, that’s when the pool tables were in the pubs and it was £1 a shot. So if you play 10 games of pool that’s 10 quid, whereas a game of darts costs noth­ing. I used to sit in the pub and play darts all night long – a cou­ple of cans of Coke, that’d do me.

When did you know darts would be­come your full-time liv­ing?

Ever since I picked up a set of darts. I could play the game well. The first year I picked up a dart, when I was 25, I was un­beaten in the lo­cal league. I did that for two years then started the big­ger tour­na­ments.

Does money make you happy?

It takes the pres­sure off, know­ing I can feed and clothe the kids. Me, I’m eas­ily en­ter­tained. A cof­fee and I’m happy.

Young­sters now are mak­ing so much money. When I started the prizes were a lot lower. You had your wages so the money you won at darts would be put away to pay for your next tour­na­ment and travel.

When I started as a pro­fes­sional I was still work­ing. That’s why I don’t get up­set when I get beaten. I’ve al­ways en­joyed it as my hobby – I’ve al­ways worked and played darts for fun.

Has pro­fes­sional darts changed in re­cent years?

Darts has be­come very big over the last five years. It’s like a job now. Play­ers take up the darts and think, that’s my in­come. Within a year they get their tour card, qual­ify for all the TV tour­na­ments and think they’re on the right road. But it’s harder to get into darts now be­cause a lot of young­sters have been watch­ing it for the past few years.

Have you saved for re­tire­ment?

Yes, prob­a­bly be­cause hope­fully I’m go­ing to be play­ing to 50-55 and see how it goes. Nowa­days it’s just about ev­ery day of the week you’re away trav­el­ling and play­ing. What­ever I’ve got sit­ting in the bank now I’ll put away for my­self and the kids, give them a wee boost when they’re older.

Have you ever gam­bled?

I’ve had a punt on the horses. The most I’ve ever bet was £50 and I’ve never won any­thing so I stopped many years ago.

How would you ad­vise peo­ple con­tem­plat­ing a ca­reer in darts?

Don’t just do darts – go out and get a proper job, even if it’s work­ing on a build­ing site or in an of­fice. If it doesn’t hap­pen for you in the darts, you’ve got a job to fall back on.

Do younger play­ers tease you about be­ing a wise old man?

No. When they start beat­ing me they can start tak­ing the mickey.

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