Arrowing in on darting world elite with help of Ripley league

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A darts wizard who has already achieved the Holy Grail of his sport is arrowing in on more success by sharpening his game in Ripley – halfway around the globe from his home.

Kyle Anderson, 28, the first Aboriginal Australian professional player to be part of the PDC pro tour and a former number one in his home country, plays in the Ripley Elite Darts Singles League when not competing in major championships around the world.

“It is a good standard and only going to get higher. The other week there were five averages in the 90s, which is very decent for a league like that,” said the Aussie, who is around the 30 mark in the PDC rankings yet still competes in the league’s Martindale Premier Division.

“This is my second full season in the league and I am loving it. I played in 2014 and again last season, but had to pull out because I was away for most of the tournament.

“I came down to watch without any ambition of rejoining, but then asked Daz (league founder and chairman Darron Brown) if I could play again and work around me being home for August and some of June and July. He said yes, which was great.

“Anderson, who first joined the league through his then stablemate, Aden Kirk, added: “He said it was a good league and I would enjoy it. I made friends as soon as I walked through the door and they havn’t forgotten who I am when I come back, which is great.

“I am looking forward to playing again next year too. They are a great bunch of lads and it is a good night out.

“We have a chat and a laugh, They don’t treat me like any sort of celebrity, which I like. I like to be low key, go into a bar, have a game of darts and enjoy it.”

That high standard in the league Anderson referred to was highlighted a couple of weeks ago when the Aussie, obviously favourite for the title, landed a 10-darter — 174, 131, 180 and double 8 - but was also beaten for the first time this season.

Anderson, a former World Youth Champion, shot to fame in 2014 when he landed a nine-darter at the World Championships at Alexandra Palace, London — the ‘Ally Pally’ — in front of the TV cameras.

Now, after steady progressions over the past two years, he has his eyes on more national success and a regular place in the top 32 of the PDC rankings.

“My ultimate ambition is to win a major championships,” he said. “But my goal for the end of this year was to reach the top 32 in the PDC and at the moment I am around there. Anything else for this year will be a bonus.”

Anderson, who lives in Nottingham, came to England in 2013 after claiming his tour card by winning a Q School qualifying event, where he was approached by Nottingham’s Protege Events.

Q School is an annual four-day darting scholarship set up by the sports well-known figurehead, Barry Hearn, to find the world’s best players. Around 400 players battle it out for 20 to 30 tour cards to play alongside the world’s best.

Anderson had no ambitions to leave Australia, but when he picked up the sponsor he took the gamble to leave his Queensland home, saying: “I had to take the plunge. I would have regretted it forever if I hadn’t made the move. I had to believe that I had what it takes to succeed in the PDC.

“It has definitely been worth the gamble and I’m just happy it is starting to pay off now.”

The only downside for the down-to-earth Aussie is missing his partner, Tara, and five-year-old son, Charles, who returned home after spending a few months in England.

He said: “It is difficult. I speak to some of the boys on tour and they get anxious and fretful when they are away from their families and children for five days. I say to them that is a walk in the park compared to my five months.

“At least I get spoiled rotten when I get home. While I am at darts my mind is purely on darts and playing, but when there is down-time I then start to think about home.

“So playing in the Ripley league let’s me get out and have a good laugh when I might be feeling down and out.”

He left Protege for The Sportsman Management Company last September – teaming up with PDC stars Kim Huybrechts, Ronny Huybrechts, Jelle Klaasen, Mensur Suljovic and Kyle Anderson, and the BDO’s Glen Durrant.

However, he has retained his link with Unicorn Darts and is very much part of Team Unicorn with Keegan Brown, Arron Monk, Joe Cullen, Chris Dobey, Ronnie Huybrechts, Dimitri Van Den Bergh and Devon Petersen.

The Australian had a terrific start to his professional career with that nine-darter against Ian White at the 2014 World Championships that catapulted him into the limelight.

He has since made a steady progression, getting further in the major championships over the past three years.

Last year he recorded the highest-ever average in darting history in a Players Championship event in Barnsley. Anderson defeated Terry Jenkins 6-1 and used just 77 darts after piling up a remarkable 134.84 average. His winning legs consisted of three 10-darters plus 11, 12 and 15 dart legs.

Last year he also reached the last 32 of the World Championships, a feat he repeated in 2016.

In March he made his first TV quarter-final appearance at the Coral UK Open.

And Anderson has just returned from the World Matchplay at Blackpool where he went one better than last year, where he reached the last 32.

The Aussie upset the form book, defeating Vincent Van der Voort 10-4 to launch the competition in its television stages. He was then beaten in the last 16 stage by defending champion Michael van Gerwen.

Anderson also made the last eight of the World Cup Of Darts this year.

Now he is preparing for the International Darts Open in Riesa and the European Darts Trophy in Mulheim, both in September, having just qualified for the prestigious events.

“I feel my game is starting come together now,” Anderson said. “When I first came across I was starstruck, as you are, but six months after that I started playing well enough.

“I was getting nervous towards the end of matches, though, and it has taken me a good two years to start to get over that finishing line fever.

“I am getting to grips with that, starting to throw well and getting into the later stages of tournaments. Now it’s just about trying to get some more doubles. If the doubles start to come in the world is your oyster.”

It is all a far cry from when he started playing darts at home as an 11-year-old with his brother, Beau, who is also a top player in Australia.

“My brother and my father got me into darts and everything I do, I owe to them. They pushed me when I was younger.

“I didn’t like the sport then, but my mum and dad played and I found myself at games nearly every night of the week.

“One night a team was short and I jumped in and played for them. They asked me to play every week and I said no, but mum jumped in and said I would play - and I fell into love with it since then.

“I made the youth team for Western Australia, made a lot of friends and it went from there.”

Anderson said he enjoyed the showbiz razzamatazz that Sky TV has brought to darts. Nicknamed The Original, he walks out on to the oche to the strains of Solid Rock.

“It is a remake of an old Australian classic. It is more of a new day remake by a couple of Aboriginal boys,” Anderson said.

“I can relate to some of the lyrics like “Standing on sacred ground.” That is what we are all about.

“It just gives me goosebumps and makes me proud, not just to be an Australian, but to be an Aboriginal Australian — to represent my people and to show that the negativity in some of the media is not always right.”

Darron Brown, Ripley Elite Darts Singles League founder and chairman, said it was “an absolute honour and pleasure” to have Kyle Anderson play in the league.

Brown first met Anderson at the Q School where Anderson earned his tour card in 2013.

“Kyle came across as a very genuine, decent and modest person with an obvious gift for the game. I practised before and between games on the same board and what this man can’t do on a dart board is scary,” he said.

“To come from the other side of the world, leaving your family behind, must be the hardest thing ever in life, but the man will make enough money to get into the world’s top 20 and who knows what might then happen.”

Brown said it was an absolute honour and pleasure to have the popular Aussie playing in their popular and highly competitive premier division.

“He is always at the centre of the laughing and joking on Wednesdays and gives everyone his time,” he said.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to call Kyle a mate - a brother as he calls his closest. The sky really is the limit for this humble Aussie.”