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New deal for Wadey!

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Wednesday, 8 June 2022 10:30:00 Europe/London

JAMES WADE admitted that he’s “winning in life” after signing a contract with Unicorn which will take him past 20 years with the top darts firm.

The Aldershot hotshot has rediscovered his very best form over the past couple of years and has qualified for the Premier League finals and World Cup for England. 

But Wade, 39, kicked off his busy schedule by signing on the dotted line for Unicorn for another five years, having first joined the team back in 2004.

He said: “I'm winning in life, and I believe I've got loads more major titles left in me. I've never reached what I know I'm capable of, but there's a lot more in the tank.

“I don’t think people understand totally the importance of having consistent and solid backing from the people around you. 

“I joined Unicorn back in the early 2000s and they have been solidly behind me since then through thick and thin. It’s vital to have that security. 

“They are a great team, absolute gentlemen and can’t do enough to make sure I’m happy and the products are all top draw.

“Loyalty doesn’t really exist in sport nowadays which is a shame. But Unicorn and I have had total loyalty for a long time now. 

“Longevity in any sport is also not seen anymore. I’ve shown that I can stick around in a tough sport and Unicorn have played a huge part in that. 

“It just goes to show that if you stick at what you’re good at with the right team around you, it’s possible to stay successful.

“It’s amazing to think that the new deal with Unicorn will take me past the 22- year mark with them. But long may it continue, it’s been a brilliant partnership with brilliant people.”

Wade takes part in the Premier League finals at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin on June 13 - ironically 13 years after he first won the title. He will face Michael van Gerwen in a tough semi-final.

He added: “I've won the Premier League once, back in 2009, and it's only certain other people who don't think I can do it again.

“I always think I can win it – it just depends which mindset I've got when I turn up – and I've been a lot more stable with my personality, on and off the board, in the last six months, which is always a good sign.

“If I can be less up-and-down, and maintain a consistent level of ability, I'm hard to beat.

“Ten years ago I was on stage when Phil (Taylor) hit those twin nine-darters in the Premier League play-off final, and I like to think it's a testament to my ability, stubbornness and me being pig-headed, but I know I've still got my best stuff to come.

“I've been proving people wrong for 10 to 15 years. I will continue to do it for as long as I want to do it.”

Story by Phil Lanning

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New York glory for Smith

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Monday, 6 June 2022 08:59:14 Europe/London

MICHAEL SMITH admitted it was “unreal” to win the US Darts Masters at Madison Square Garden.

The St.Helens ace defeated Michael van Gerwen 8-4 to take the title in New York on Saturday night. 

Smith, 31, beat Scots Gary Anderson 8-3 and then World Champ Peter Wright 8-6 on the way to the final before a powerhouse performance to KO MVG in the famous venue and take the £20,000.

He said: “I've won tournaments before but it's unreal to win at Madison Square Garden. Everyone wanted to win this event and it's unreal for me to be that person.

“I've just won a tournament in the most iconic venue in the world, and I'm the first person to do it. I'm ecstatic.

“I wasn't playing my best darts, but I put in a decent second half in the final. I did that earlier against Peter too and long may it continue.

“Michael's the same, we're capable of putting in four or five legs on the spin with no reply, and luckily I did.”

Smith had lost in the World Championship and UK Open finals earlier this year, but has won the final Cazoo Premier League night in Newcastle and a European Tour title in the nine days before his Madison Square Garden success.

He added: “I'm playing well and picking up titles, and it's unreal the way things have swung in my favour.

“Since I won the last night of the Premier League, my confidence has grown and grown. I wasn't chasing results, I was chasing wins and I've just won the first ever tournament at Madison Square Garden.

“Now that I'm making finals each week and winning them - and the way I'm winning them - is massive for my confidence and self-belief.”

By Phil Lanning

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GARY ANDERSON has vowed to “keep battling on” despite patchy form and wants glory in New York!

The Flying Scotsman has found life difficult so far this year, winning just five matches in 14 nights of the Premier League. 

But on the verge of the penultimate league night at the O2 in London tomorrow night (Thursday) where he faces Joe Cullen, Ando is still determined to get it right. 

He said: “Darts has been a struggle this year, probably the year before as well but yeah just keep battling on. Hopefully it'll come good one day.

“I'm still in that bubble, before darts was my life 24/7. Everything was about darts but now we've been locked down, I've come to realise it's not all about darts. I've got young kids, I spend a lot of time with them. 

“We've got the wee business we run, I'm there everyday I'm not at the darts. It's a bit hard for the darts circuit.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for his career, Anderson still has the appetite to win trophies. 

He added: “I've always wanted to win the Grand Slam. That was the first tournament I played in when I came across. I played it while I was in the BDO. I got so much dogs abuse, I loved it.

“When I play my game how I used to play, I win. There's weekends I turn up and I play really well and there's weekends I turn up and I'm absolutely awful.”

Anderson is also looking forward to his first ever trip to the glitz and glamour of New York for the World Series next month.

He said: “I'm in New York for the World Series, a place I've never been to so I'm looking forward to that. 

“Sitting watching the documentary on Muhammad Ali and Madison Square Garden so to be there where he fought, it's something special.”

By Phil Lanning.

Image by Taylor Lanning.

0 Comments | Posted in Unicorn Darts By Matthew Rankin

Anderson ready for Glasgow return

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Thursday, 5 May 2022 11:02:44 Europe/London

GARY ANDERSON admits he needs more nerves ahead of an emotional homecoming to Scotland. 

The Flying Scotsman has won just four matches in 12 Premier League clashes ahead of Night 13 at the OVO Hydro tonight (Thursday).

Ando, 51, faces fellow Scot Peter Wright but believes he needs an extra edge in front of his Tartan fans. 

He said: “Every time I went onto the stage before Covid, I used to get really nervous.

“These days, though, I feel as though I am just turning up without a nerve in my body.

“I used to go to the events and be really nervy. I’ve known myself to be sick backstage with nerves on really big nights.

“Maybe those nerves will come back when I see so many Scottish fans coming out to support us. I’ll be nervous that I don’t want to mess up.

“If I am going to get beaten, just make sure you play well. Don’t let yourself down. 

“For example, it was a great night in Aberdeen, only for my result to be terrible. 

“It’ll be good to get back up again to Glasgow and I’ll do my best to try and kick into gear.”

Anderson has endured contrasting fortunes in this PL campaign, one night win in Nottingham but only one other victory over Michael van Gerwen. 

He added: “I’m really looking forward to the night, I’m just a bit gutted that I’m playing absolute guff. 

“I just cannot seem to hit a barn door on the stage at the moment.

“It’s just one of those things and I’ve reached a stage where I have settled for what’s happening in some ways.

“If I want to get right back into it, I have to give it 110 per cent and, right now, I just can’t. I’ve actually found I have a life to live and it’s enjoyable.”

Anderson, stuck at bottom of the table, has been centre stage on some of the great Premier League nights in Glasgow. But he knows he needs to find that old magic for the Hydro. 

He added: “I have to apologise for the way I am playing just now. I just can’t seem to get myself out of the hole.

“But the thing is, if my game suddenly turns up in Glasgow, I’ll win it. 

“That’s what happened in Nottingham a few weeks. It can happen again.

“I’m going to try a heavier set of darts. They are going fine in practice.”

Night 13 – OVO Hydro, Glasgow, 7pm Sky Sports.

Quarter-Finals

Peter Wright v Gary Anderson

Jonny Clayton v James Wade

Gerwyn Price v Michael Smith

Michael van Gerwen v Joe Cullen

Story by Phil Lanning. Image by Taylor Lanning.

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Wade just happy to be "onwards and upwards"

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Friday, 29 April 2022 11:16:41 Europe/London

JAMES WADE admits he’s just super happy to be moving “onwards and upwards” after a classy second Premier League night win.

The Machine moved into third above Scot Peter Wright in the table after beating Jonny Clayton to win Night 12 in Dublin.

Wade, 39, has now reached five finals with two wins and also hit his highest-ever average of 114.73 in a 6-1 semi demolition of Gerwyn Price. 

He said: “I’m super happy. It’s not very often I’m short of answers. I’ve played among the greatest darts players tonight and I’ve prevailed to the top. I’m moving onwards and upwards which is quite surprising.

“At times even people like me get fortunate. But what you are doing in darts, the younger and less experienced players have to learn that if you are constantly putting yourself in the right position, you get to a point where you can choke or move on.

“I think I’ve proved that for the last five or six weeks. It’s great to have a positive interview. I’m far happier than most people in the Premier League right now. 

“Sometimes you stand back and look at the dartboard and you think ‘just show yourself a bit of respect, just have a go at it’. When they go in you think ‘bloody hell all those hours of practice’. It all pays off.

“But another night you couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo. It’s all relevant but tonight it all went my way. 

“I feel it was fair. Jonny went in front but I didn’t feel he was the superior dart player. I just think at the end of the night, I think the best dart player on the night won.”

Wade will now play Clayton again in the quarter-finals of Night 13 in Glasgow next week but dismissed any dreams of landing his second Premier League title. 

He added: “I don’t dream. I just know where I should be.”

By Phil Lanning

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Wade close to his best after Manchester glory...

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Tuesday, 19 April 2022 14:00:00 Europe/London

JAMES WADE feels he is on the cusp of big things after delivering a first Premier League night win of the season. 

The Machine KO’d Joe Cullen 6-5 with a 105 average to win the final in front of a record 12,000 crowd in Manchester on Thursday night.

But Wade, 39, believes he is close to even better form after reaching his fourth final of the campaign. 

He said: “I've done it at last - I'm super happy!

“I feel like my form is close to ‘here I am’. It’s there but it’s not there. 

“I’m a little bit negative at the moment. I don’t know why but I am. It happens with everyone with things they do at times. 

“I’m being a little bit cruel to myself. But I’m still in it, I’m not a million miles away, it’s going OK so far.”

Wade beat Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price 6-2 in the quarters and semis before his last leg decider win over Cullen.

He added:  “You're playing against, in my opinion, the eight best players in the world every week, and it's hard work. If you hit a 60 at the wrong time, you get bashed.

“I nearly gave it away on two occasions there but I was fortunate enough and I prevailed. I think I was the better player so it was all good.

“I'm trying as hard as anyone, probably harder than most people, and I believe I'm one of the best. I'm here for a reason.

“I'm enjoying myself, playing good darts at times. I'm playing against the best eight players in the world, which is an honour for me.

“I feel I'm mixing with them and I'm glad to be here. I'm so nervous up there but at times I'm close to my best game.”

Image by Taylor Lanning.

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Smith vows: “I’ve just got to wait my time”

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Monday, 21 March 2022 11:50:02 Europe/London

MICHAEL SMITH has vowed to wait his time after making four finals already in 2022.

The former World Youth champion continues to deliver consistency at the highest level after moving up to World No.4.

Smith, 31, has finished runner-up in the World Championship, UK Open and two Premier League nights and admits he is learning to deal with oche setbacks. 

He said: “I take my confidence wherever I go. I’m getting really good at recovering from events. If I’ve lost, give me half an hour and I get on with the day after. I think that’s what I’m blessed with, I can forget things so easily. 

“I was even No.3 for a short time. I’ve been in two major finals already this year, I know I’ve not won them. If I can make all the major finals, my bills are paid, my mortgage is paid.

“Obviously I want to win them, but I’ve just got to wait my time. When that first one does come, there will be a lot more.”

Remarkably Smith is the victim of a lot of social media angst but believes he now knows how to shrug it off.

He added: “I used to comment on everything. The best thing you can do is mute them. The minute you block them they don’t know.

“I’ve been playing darts for 12 years and made nearly £3million and never won anything. Who’s more the fool, them or me?

“I’ll keep going and keep going. I’ll probably make another four and a half million by the time I retire. I’ll take that all day long. 

“The only thing I’m fussed about now is a major. Money is not an issue. I’ve got my houses, my wife, my kids, a great manager and family backing me. 

“As long as I keep competing and keep focused, that’s all that matters.”

Smith lost out to Unicorn stablemate Gary Anderson in the Premier League final in Nottingham - and now faces Michael van Gerwen in Rotterdam on Thursday night. 

He added: “Gaz played amazing up there. For someone who hasn’t thrown a dart for six months, it wasn’t too shabby was it? He knows when he’s playing me, he steps up. 

“I had a chance early on and didn’t take it. I started too slow at 5-4, it’s one of them, it happens.”

Words: Phil Lanning

Images: Taylor Lanning

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Diamond Rocks

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Wednesday, 16 March 2022 13:24:40 Europe/London

IAN WHITE admits the “great relationship” with Unicorn is the reason behind his long consistency in the sport. 

The Stoke star has vowed to battle back up the world rankings after illness hampered his form last year.

White, 51, has shown flashes of his brilliant best over the past few months as he celebrates a decade with Unicorn.

He revealed: “It’s a special thing, 10 years has flown by since I started with Unicorn. It’s been a great relationship, they’ve stood by me and it’s been nice to have someone to give you everything you need.

“Over these past few years there’s been some hard times but Unicorn are a nice company, nice people and will do anything for you. In sport you need that support around you. 

“It’s getting harder and harder each year with these new lads coming in and wanting to prove a point. 

“To be doing it on the floor over all these years, it’s a good feeling.

“I’m a Liverpool fan, it takes me back to Bill Shankly. He always used to say the bread and butter was the old Division One, it was never Europe. 

“To me it’s quite similar, the bread and butter of darts is the Pro Tour every week. That’s where you’ve got to be good, hopefully the rest follows with it.

“I’m glad it’s come back to being two days again now. The four or five days just killed me, sitting in a hotel eating out of a cooler box and not being able to go out was just hard work.” 

White produced a dazzling win over Luke Humphries in the UK Open, only to be edged out in a thriller by Polish sensation Sebastian Białecki.

He added: “I just want to be back up there and enjoying it again. It’s hard work when you are further down the rankings. You are not seeded and you are swimming against the tide. 

“This year I’ve got to get back in the TV tournaments, these ProTours I’ve got to really start kicking in. 

“I wanted to last year but with the illness, it just killed me. Every time I was playing I was in agony with the kidney stones. 

“Once I’d finished a game I was curled up in a hot bath, it was just so sore. 

“I just had to get the op done privately and get it sorted or it wouldn’t have even been done now. 

“I started to improve towards the end of last year when I got to the quarter-finals of the Grand Prix.

“In the UK Open I let Sebastian go 7-3 up which I shouldn’t have done. I got back to go 9-8 up and in the decider I just didn’t kick in. 

“Fair play to him he went on to beat Ryan Searle, the lad played well. Every other TV tournament is the same. I hit a lot of 100 averages and lose.”

Words: By Phil Lanning

Images: Taylor Lanning

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Wade targeting second Premier League title

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Tuesday, 15 March 2022 13:57:48 Europe/London

JAMES WADE does not believe he’s a “dark horse” to pick up his second Premier League title. 

The Aldershot hotshot has made a typically steady start to the campaign including reaching one final.

Wade, 38, is confident that he can add to his league title last won 13 years ago - which underlines his evergreen longevity in the sport. 

He said: “I don’t see myself as a dark horse. In the second week I had some problems at home, no excuse why I lost to Joe Cullen. I wasn’t there as a person. That’s why that second week was so poor.

“If I get the bit between my teeth, if things go my well, there’s no reason why I can’t get in that top four. You’ve got to grind out results at times. But I’ve also proved I can average in the hundreds.”

Wade has won 10 TV titles, the third most decorated player in the sport, but feels he is mainly understood by fans and the media.

He added:  “I’ve been around for such a long time and I’ve beaten so many players in hard games and the crowd has been against me. I still find it quite a surprise when people are shocked when I do win something. 

“At the end of the day I’m in top form and won a few things. People also forget the amount of finals I’ve been in. If I’ve won 10 titles I must have lost in 20 finals because of a little Philip Taylor. That kind of frustrates me a little bit. I guess with the new age and new era of darts fans or the people who watch darts, because I’m not pushed or promoted like players who are well under me, they don’t know me.

“They think I’m just a miserable bloke with a beard that looks quite sulky. But there is more to me. It upsets me as well. I’m not a bad person. 

“I probably do more than the average Joes in the way of helping people and doing things and donating and bits and bobs.

“It annoys me that people don’t see that side. I do care about other people and what other people think of me. 

“I don’t have a problem with the big press. It’s the pop up people and podcasts who can do or say whatever they want, and they do it without any thought either. They don’t care as long as their followers are going up and earning their bit of money.

“But they do portray me differently from what I actually am. I can be the biggest pain in the arse but I’m not a bad person. But that all depends on the mood I’m in and what sort of place I’m in at that time. The older you get you try to be a better person.” 

Words: Phil Lanning

Images: Taylor Lanning

 

 

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Smith opens up after UK Open final defeat

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Wednesday, 9 March 2022 13:27:23 Europe/London

MICHAEL SMITH has opened up on his heartbreak of losing another major final at the UK Open.

The ex-World Youth champ has suffered 10 final defeats in recent years and suffered another tough setback with his latest loss to Danny Noppert on Sunday night. 

But Smith, 31, remains defiant about how far his career has come and rising to World No.4.

He said: Yes it hurts bad losing finals and still not having that major in my locker.

“But I’m married, I have two kids and living a life I didn’t think was possible all those years ago. And this isn’t a flex, this is a positive post. 

I lost the Premier League final and was overjoyed just to be there but did wonder if I ever make another final will I ever get that chance to compete at that level. 

“But time and time again I have my wobble and then straight back on the board and keep fighting the way I know how just always remembering what and how it felt not having anything and struggling.

“I’ve always gone to darts and give more than 100 per cent to get what I’m worth and not what I think I deserve. Things are ain’t so easy in life if you think you deserve this and that. 

“You have to fight and wait your turn in the line. One day I’ll get what I’m worth and one day this post will be irrelevant. 

But for now I keep fighting and remember trolls are trolls not people I hold close to my chest like my family my wife my two amazing kids. 

“And some great friends I’ve made not just life long friends but new friends we have met over the past two or three years who will also be life long friends who show there support who share those bad times just as much as I do but always there and that’s all that matters. So thank you and much love.”  

Words: Phil Lanning

Images: Taylor Lanning

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