JOE CULLEN admits that lockdown has made him fall back in love with darts again. The gritty Yorkshire terrier is in action tonight (Sunday) in the PDC Home Tour last 32 against Chris Dobey, Jeff Smith and Martijn Kleermaker.
But The Rockstar, 30, has revealed he’s ready to show his heavy mettle as he yearns for big stage glory.
He said: “There are a few announcements coming out now so at least there’s going to be some sort of normality.
“It’s hard to be motivated. The first thing you usually do is look at the calendar then start practicing. But it’s the same in all jobs, all walks of life I guess.“
The Home Tour has been good to keep us ticking over. Before the first group, I hadn’t practiced for 11 days. “I had an hour and 45 minutes before I played that night and that was the outcome. To be honest, I’m happy that I won the group.
“More so that I’d fallen out of love with the game to the extent where I couldn’t be bothered. But this has made me realise just how much I do miss it.
“Has this situation given me more hunger? 100 per cent. If I play in the Home Tour last 32 and lose all three matches, it doesn’t matter. What the Home Tour has done for me has given me a kick up the backside I needed. “If anything comes from lockdown it will give me the hunger and love back for the game.“
I know I’ve got the ability. I need to commit 100 percent to darts. I’d rather go and play snooker for two hours than practice darts, or play a game of five-a-side”.
“I need to get my priorities in order. Darts needs to be at the forefront of my mind. Darts pays the bills so I need to put it first!”
The Bradford battler has been through the mill of the past couple of years. He lost an epic World Matchplay quarter-final to Gary Anderson in 2018. Cullen may feel luck was not on his side when throwing for the match he missed double 18 before a fly flew across his eye-line and the Yorkshireman missed double nine. Then, after an innocent Twitter exchange, he was subjected to an incredible amount of social media abuse – also aimed at his son. It once again highlights the growing amount of stick players are getting from fans and Cullen believes it won’t go away.
He added: “It doesn’t bother me to be honest. I was actually speaking about it with Mark Webster. Obviously Paul Nicholson got quite a bit as well. “I always take it with a pinch of salt. There was one where I did react a little bit. One night someone said something to my 10-year-old son about me and Laura Woods. “Say what you want to me and I’ll take it. But as far as messaging my son, it’s not right. “It seems to be part and parcel of the game now. We get it pretty bad so I can’t imagine how bad the football players get. “Mark Webster has been playing on the Modus Tour and some guy said to him ‘how you became World Champion I don’t know, you’re s***, pack it in’. That sort of thing.”
Cullen produced three dazzling displays in his opening group, including a comfortable win over high-flying Gerwyn Price. He added: “It’s a funny one I actually got more nervous playing the home darts than what I normally do on stage. It’s a bit of a strange one.
“What I do like about it there can’t be any tactics. I’ve played players this year and they’ve tried slowing me down and do this and do that. That element is taken out of their hands.”
Pics: Taylor Lanning.