This Week – Pentathlon Kings and Fairy Tale Princes.

JUNE 21-27 has been a mixed week over the years, some remarkable efforts and some almost barren spells. But Darts World’s ‘This Week’ has managed to locate a selection that includes a ‘Founding Father’, a Fairy-tale Prince, a ‘Dark Side Darter’, and one who is ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ for one more title. A random Scandinavian also manages a guest’s appearance.

Forty-Four Years Ago:

John Lowe captured the initial staging of an event that would become almost his personal property. The British Pentathlon involves playing a selection of different darting games, including round the board doubles, and it’s your overall performance that counts. A player capable of the consistency level showed by’ Old Stoneface’ should and did thrive!

Lowe receives his MBE last year. Perhaps it should have been for services to The British Pentathlon?

During the first dozen holding of this challenging event (1976-87), Lowe won an astounding ten! He was runner-up on another occasion (1981), defeated by Eric Bristow, and only in 1977 did he not make the top two. Before the 1994 split, only two others had claimed the event more than once. Eric and Phil Taylor. Surely no other tournament has been dominated in such a way from its inception?

Twenty Four Years :

The British pentathlon seems to spawn remarkable runs of domination. Perhaps its that the event rewards a set of qualities that are often held to extremes by only one or two players in each era? This week in 1996 Martin Adams picked up his second Pentathlon title. Not for the last time Ronnie Baxter was runner up in a major trophy, Colin Monk, father of, recent 9-Dart hitter, Aaron, was third and the Norwegian, Thor Helmer Johanson was fourth. Adams went on to dominate the event in a similar way to Lowe, but has been stuck on nine since 2011!

Fourteen Years Ago:

Darth Maple, John Part, was striding forth in the second qualifier for the PDC’s Las Vegas Classic. Part qualified, after a failed attempt the day before, by defeating Darts World columnist Colin Osborne, and Steve Maish, in the later stages. The outstanding feature of this effort was not his qualification, but the fact that he went on to win the main event the next day!

Coral UK Open - Day Two Round-Up
John Part has managed many ups and downs throughout his career, but fourteen years ago he pulled of a very rare feat! (Photo: Chris Dean/PDC)

The double World champion (later to claim the hattrick) had many peaks and troughs in his career, but this was another example of his knack of delivering on home turf. The Unicorn man clinched the crown after defeating Barney 6-3 in the final.

Four Years Ago:

A Challenge Tour event in June 2016 does not seem likely to have been a major turning point in the history of the PDC. But the winner of that year’s thirteenth second-tier event was engaged on a project, whether he knew it or not, that would validate the entire modern PDC system. On the way to a fine first PDC tournament win, the victor also hit a nine-dart finish.

It is safe to say that for a player who had broken through only months before, this was a decent effort in itself. Yet , after only another few months he claimed his tour card, via the CT order of merit, and twelve months after that he reached his first World Championship. Perhaps we should mention that the winner of CT 13 in 2016 was……………Rob Cross!

Rob Cross sealed his first PDC title as he won Challenge Tour 13 ‘This Week’ in 2016. Photo : Chris Dean

Look back through previous ‘This Week’ selections here.

The Worst Final Ever? Saved By The Big Fish!

Speaking to Darts World this week, world number seven, Nathan Aspinall described how his 170 ‘Big Fish’ checkout rescued the game from being remembered as an appalling game:

To be fair to both Rob Cross and ‘The Asp’, it was clear that both guys were almost out of steam. The latter stages of ‘the Open‘ are draining with two important, and often long, matches on both Saturday and Sunday. Cross, despite being a World Champion, had little experience of this and Aspinall even less.

Both players had huge incentives to ‘finish the job‘ with Cross eager to prove his World Championship was no ‘one-hit wonder‘ and Aspinall clearly intent on claiming his first ranking ‘Major’. The combination of nerves and exhaustion resulted in both players slumping from their previous levels and it seemed that ‘The Asp’ just had more in the tank and would inch his way to victory.

The one question remaining was could Nathan hit a major winning double on TV? Here’s his answer!


Cross: It’s Head Down and Back To Work Time.

Defending Champion Rob Cross knows its time to get back to work if he is to retain his Betfred World Matchplay crown.

‘Back to work’ for reigning Champion Rob Cross.

‘Voltage’ said: It’s been a long time and at least now we’ve got something set in stone so I’ve got something to work to now.“

“When there’s no darts on and you’re trying to maintain your practice,

at the same time you’re not practising for anything” .

At least now it will settle us all, it’s settled me definitely.“ It has been very tough but at least now I can get my head down – I’ve got a fair few weeks to sort myself out and get myself ready.“

“Just going back to playing darts and playing the best players in the world again is enough for me, because then you’ve got something to prove to the world and prove to yourself again.“

“It’s motivation and at least we are going back, it might be under different circumstances but I think the biggest thing for me is that I’ll get back doing my job and do what I enjoy.“

“I’d like to have something in the background, I suppose, but at the same time I think the biggest thing is that:

I go back in there as defending champion and I want to win it again,” .“

Cross added: *So whatever the circumstances, I’m only going out to win. It will be a little bit alien at first”.

“If it is quiet I’ll get over it – I might have a nervous first leg but at the same time it’s something that you’ve got to get on with and be ready for either way.”


Cross Fears Matchplay Defence Will Seem Alien.

ROB CROSS reckons the World Matchplay could feel a bit “alien” if it goes ahead behind closed doors.The Hastings battler won his second major title with a comfortable win over Michael Smith at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool 11 months ago.

Cross will be back in the spotlight, with or without a crowd.

Now Voltage, 29, is ready to return to the big stage for the prestigious event and is only focused on his own form, not the venue or whether it’s held behind closed doors.He said: “There are certain issues that are beyond my control, I won’t let myself get distracted by stuff like that.

“I’m really happy that it’s going ahead, that’s the main thing.

Obviously I’d love it to be at the Winter Gardens with fans. But that’s not my decision.

“I’ll just crack on and turn up at the venue where I’m told to go and play the best I can.

“It’s been a long time and at least now we’ve got something set in stone so I’ve got something to work to now.



More from this story coming soon………

Pix: Taylor Lanning

Voltage – Digging For Glory!

REVVED-UP Rob Cross won a small fortune but ditched plans to buy a Bentley and went for a JCB DIGGER instead.The Hastings battler landed a fairytale William Hill World Championship just 18 months into his professional career in early 2018.

However on the eve of aiming to regain his World Matchplay crown, Voltage admits he didn’t splash the cash on four-wheeled glitz, he bought something for digging a ditch!The former electrician, nicknamed Voltage, said: “My mates thought I was mad, it was like I’d won the Lottery getting 400 grand at the Ally Pally after beating Phil Taylor.

“I was in a whirlwind for a month, like an out of body experience, seriously it was very weird”.

“My mates thought I had seriously lost the plot when I said I was buying a JCB.“To be honest, that’s just the way I am. I’m not a flashy bloke, I don’t wear jewellery or even an expensive watch. It’s not my thing.“All I had in my mind is that I wanted to invest in a new house and knew I’d need a new digger so I bought one.“The maddest thing of all now is that I’ve got the house and so much work is being done. My first instinct is to do it all myself like I would have in the past.“Now I haven’t even got time to do the wiring so I’ve had to get an electrician in to do my own job. How crazy is that?“

“But I’m really bad to work for because I check and double-check all the work done. If I don’t like it the poor guy has to start all over again. I’m a perfectionist and I expect everything done to my standard.” Cross, 29, was invited to JCB HQ in Uttoxeter at the end of last year after they found out his love for their diggers.

Voltage was undoubtedly blown away by the outstanding story of the family-run JCB company which was founded by Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE in 1945 in a garage in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. Now they employ 15,000 with a turnover of £4.1billion, making around 100,000 machines every year. The company makes their own engines – and they have just powered the JCB Fastrac tractor to a Guinness World Record as the world’s fastest tractor reaching 135mph!

JCB is a family business and the son of the founder Lord Bamford been at the helm as Chairman since 1975 and celebrates its 75th anniversary on October 23rd, 2020. Cross added: “I love to see British succeed. I’m very patriotic and this is a great British firm which has been built from nothing by one family to a major global company, supplying machinery all over the world.

“What a great story that is. The plant in Uttoxeter is so impressive. The likes of The Queen, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Nancy Reagan have all visited”.

The tour was conducted by a brilliant guy Les Humphries who had been with the company for 51 years! “Their media man Nigel Chell, another great character has been there for over 20 years. That shows how much they all love the firm and care for it. Some families have got four generations who have worked there.

“I was like a kid in a candy shop at JCB. What an amazing company and to see all the history of a family firm was fantastic. But I could have bought at least three diggers”!

“It seems a bit iconic considering how close to Stoke this place is, and that’s the home of darts legends like Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis.”

“The most amazing thing is that Eric Bristow’s son worked for JCB recently and so did Ray Reardon’s boy. I couldn’t believe that.“I suppose this is the perfect place for me. Even while playing I get myself into some right holes which I need to dig myself out of.“I beat Daryl Gurney in the World Matchplay semi-final 17-15 after being 15-9 down. I said that night I needed a digger to get myself out of trouble. I’ve always been like that. I did that a few times in my run to the World Championship in 2018.”

Cross has certainly buried any chat of his being a one-hit major wonder, adding the World Matchplay and European Championship titles in 2019 and reaching the Premier League and UK Open finals – taking his prize money to a shade under £1million in two years.

He added:

“I’ve done alright, I’ve proved myself this year I think a bit more. But there’s more work to do, I want to be World No.1″

“…… always set fresh targets.“I still believe I’m very inexperienced at the top level. My best is definitely yet to come. I certainly want to add more World Championships, many more. “I look at Lewis Hamilton winning six Formula One titles, that’s seriously impressive to be at the very top for so long in any sport. I don’t think anyone appreciated with Phil Taylor did in darts to win 16 Championships.

“….. I love my country, I love seeing my country doing well. I was buzzing to see us win the cricket World Cup, Ben Stokes was just unbelievable”.

“I must admit those sort of performances really get me fired up. I’m straight back on the practice board wanting to achieve more.” “That’s what makes me tick really. The motivation for me comes in all different ways. That’s why I know I can go on to achieve so much. I’ve done a great deal in a very short space of time. Now I can focus on a big future.“There’s a lot to win. And a lot more diggers to buy!”


A previous version of this article appeared in OCHE magazine.

Picture by Taylor Lanning

Cross ‘Over The Moon’ – Matchplay Defence Is On!

ROB CROSS admits he’s “over-the-moon” that he will get to defend his Betfred World Matchplay in July.

The PDC have confirmed this afternoon that the prestigious major will definitely go-ahead from July 18-26. The prestigious 32-player tournament is set to be the first fully televised PDC tournament to take place following the suspension of events due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

Following discussions with host broadcaster Sky Sports, the original dates of July 18-26 have been confirmed for the event to be staged. The PDC are continuing to work with the UK Government and other relevant parties to be able to stage the event at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens with a crowd, subject to any relevant regulations.

A decision will be made by Saturday, July 4 if the tournament is able to proceed with a crowd at the Winter Gardens. Should this not be possible, then the tournament will be staged behind closed doors at an alternative, appropriate venue.

Final details for ticket holders will be confirmed once a final decision is made in relation to being able to stage the Betfred World Matchplay with or without a crowd.

Reigning champ Cross said: “It’s great news, I’m over-the-moon. I know that the PDC has been working so hard to keep the sport ticking along despite such difficult circumstances”.

“It’s fair to say we are all desperate to get back to the big stage if it is safe to do so for all players”.

“It will be tough to come back and straight into a major event like the Matchplay. But it’s a sign that life is getting back to normal hopefully.”

The PDC also revealed that fans who have purchased tickets for the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay can obtain a refund from their point of purchase should they wish*. Should the event take place in 2020 behind closed doors, then fans will be entitled, following July 4, to defer their ticket purchase to the 2021 Betfred World Matchplay.

PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter said: “It is still our intention to be able to stage the Betfred World Matchplay with a crowd and we remain in talks with all relevant parties in a bid to achieve this.“We have worked hard with the venue, our broadcast partners and other parties to look at alternative dates later in the year, but with no guarantees of how restrictions may be lifted we have taken the decision to retain the original dates so that the Betfred World Matchplay can play a major part in our sport’s return to action.

“Giving fans the chance to apply for a refund for this year’s tickets or to retain their booking will give them a chance to make their own decision in relation to the event either immediately or when a final announcement is made in the coming weeks.

“The Betfred World Matchplay will be broadcast in full by Sky Sports as well as the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners, and with or without a crowd we’re working as hard as possible to make the 2020 tournament as special as ever.”

The PDC are also finalising plans to resume ranked Players Championship events from July onwards, subject to Government approval and clarification on any quarantine restrictions for overseas-based players. Further details will be announced in due course.


Pix: PDC

Official PDC Logo

PDC World Matchplay To Go Ahead – As Scheduled!

The PDC can confirm that the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay will take place from July 18-26.

ROB CROSS WINTER GARDENS (Pic: Christopher Dean)

The prestigious 32-player tournament is set to be the first fully televised PDC tournament to take place following the suspension of events due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

Following discussions with host broadcaster Sky Sports, the original dates of July 18-26 have been confirmed for the event to be staged.

The PDC are continuing to work with the UK Government and other relevant parties to be able to stage the event at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens with a crowd, subject to any relevant regulations.

A decision will be made by Saturday July 4 if the tournament is able to proceed with a crowd at the Winter Gardens.

Should this not be possible, then the tournament will be staged behind closed doors at an alternative, appropriate venue.

Final details for ticket holders will be confirmed once a final decision is made in relation to being able to stage the Betfred World Matchplay with or without a crowd.

However, fans who have purchased tickets for the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay can obtain a refund from their point of purchase should they wish*.

Should the event take place in 2020 behind closed doors, then fans will be entitled, following July 4, to defer their ticket purchase to the 2021 Betfred World Matchplay.

“It is still our intention to be able to stage the Betfred World Matchplay with a crowd and we remain in talks with all relevant parties in a bid to achieve this,” said PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter.

“We have worked hard with the venue, our broadcast partners and other parties to look at alternative dates later in the year, but with no guarantees of how restrictions may be lifted we have taken the decision to retain the original dates so that the Betfred World Matchplay can play a major part in our sport’s return to action.

“Giving fans the chance to apply for a refund for this year’s tickets or to retain their booking will give them a chance to make their own decision in relation to the event either immediately or when a final announcement is made in the coming weeks.

“The Betfred World Matchplay will be broadcast in full by Sky Sports as well as the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners, and with or without a crowd we’re working as hard as possible to make the 2020 tournament as special as ever.”

The PDC are also finalising plans to resume ranked Players Championship events from July onwards, subject to Government approval and clarification on any quarantine restrictions for overseas-based players. Further details will be announced in due course.

* Fans wishing to request a refund can do so via SeeTickets’ Customer Services team. Please note that refunds take up to 28 days to be processed. Fans who would still wish to attend the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay if possible or defer their tickets to 2021 should do nothing at this stage, with further details to be announced in due course.

Rob Getting Cross With Social Media Abuse.

ROB CROSS believes that constant online abuse from fans will “alienate” players from social media. The 2018 World Champion is bidding for a place in the PDC Home Tour final tonight (Thurs) against Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen, and Jonny Clayton.

Reigning World Matchplay champion Rob Cross is getting fed up with the increase in social media abuse. (Pic: Taylor Lanning)

But the Hastings star, 29, admits that he feels the escalating problem of online attacks on players will stop them interacting with fans – and that’s a big worry for the sport. Over the last month Jelle Klaasen, Kyle Anderson, Peter Wright, Paul Nicholson, and Cross have been given major stick on Twitter. 

He said: “It’s getting way out of hand. I think most of the charm of darts is that the players are down to earth, in the main none of us are divas. “I think darts is the working-class sport now. We love to be amongst the fans, we do exhibitions so much and we all love it. “But over the past few weeks it has got so bad online that I think players will stop using social media, it will alienate them. I know players that are just going to not do it anymore. That would be such a shame.

“I definitely stepped back from social media a couple of years ago when myself and my family were getting death threats. You just don’t want to see that sort of thing.”

Cross admits that he has been on the receiving end of insults despite winning both his Home Tour groups and suffering the loss of his grandad to coronavirus. But he has also praised the PDPA for being so proactive to protect the players and giving them advice. He added: “I’ve played in the Home Tour despite losing my grandad to Covid-19 just a few weeks ago. We’ve had a really tough time.“

“My nan has moved in since he died and straight up I’ve not practiced hardly at all. We’ve had the funeral to deal with and naturally all the grief. It’s been a horrible time for us all. “Yet after winning both my group stages so far, my social media has been full of insults at me! “A link was put up on one thread pointing out the PDPA online abuse statement, and the guy replied that I deserved all the abuse”.

“I just think players will stop talking to fans. It’ll be such a bad thing because the minority will ruin it for everyone else.”

“Most of it is people losing bets and then blaming the player for it. The stupid thing is that I can guarantee no player in darts ever goes out to lose a match, we want to win every time. “The PDPA are brilliant, I have to say that. They are always quick to get in touch if abuse has been excessive. It’s just a shame no one can solve the problem because Twitter won’t change it.”

Plenty to to think about for ‘Voltage’.(Pic: Taylor Lanning)

Cross is now concerned for pregnant wife Georgia who is suffering from SPD as she carries their fourth child. He added:

“She’s on crutches at the moment, so it’s really tough for her. We think she’ll be induced in August. If it gets any worse she’ll have to use a wheelchair until the baby is born”.

“Life certainly isn’t dull. We’ll crack on with the Home Tour. I don’t think I’ve played that well, I’ve just done enough each time but it has been difficult to concentrate on darts over the past few weeks.

“If I can win this Home Tour it will be nothing short of a miracle considering what’s been going on.”


Home Tour: Cross Progresses With No Fuss Win.

Rob Cross came out on top of Group Five of the Low6 Home Tour Play-Offs on Saturday night to reach the semi-finals.

Cross began the night with back-to-back victories over Sweden’s Daniel Larsson and Players Championship event winner Ryan Searle to take a commanding position at the top of the group.

Despite suffering defeat to Luke Woodhouse in the final game of the night, Cross won enough legs to ensure he ended the night on top.

Cross will return to Home Tour action on Thursday night for the second night of semi-final action, where he will be joined by the three group winners of the next three groups.

The Low6 Home Tour Play-Offs continue on Sunday night with Group Six, which will feature Joe Cullen, Chris Dobey, Jeff Smith and Martijn Kleermaker.

Low6 Home Tour Play-Offs
Group Five – Saturday May 30
Rob Cross 6-3 Daniel Larsson
Ryan Searle 6-4 Luke Woodhouse
Daniel Larsson 6-5 Luke Woodhouse
Rob Cross 6-4 Ryan Searle
Ryan Searle 6-4 Daniel Larsson
Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Rob Cross

Cross Ready To Kick Ass! But Voltage May Soon Become Eeyore!

ROB CROSS is ready to kick ass in the PDC Home Tour after becoming the owner of four new DONKEYS.

Cross is looking forward to getting back to ‘big-time darts’.

The 2018 World Champion has been handed a really tricky last 32 group with Ryan Searle, Luke Woodhouse, and Daniel Larsson for the online streaming event tonight (Sat). But the Hastings battler is convinced he can deliver more bulls than mules after making a home for his four new four-legged pals.He said:

“It’s actually a really emotional story. After my grandad died of Covid-19 a couple of months ago we took my Nan in to look after her.“

It’s obviously been such a stressful time for all of us. But we are getting there, day-by-day and settling into this new life.

“But out of the blue my Nan suddenly said that as a thank you for all the support we’ve given her and looked after her, she had bought four donkeys for her grandkids.

“My wife Georgia is pregnant with our fourth baby so that’s one each for all the kids. The kids are obviously so excited about this.

“It’s been left to me to build a stable, so the old JCB digger has been out again to get the ground ready to start work on it. “I’m also looking to put a giant extension on the house now that my Nan is living with us. Lockdown has been helpful in that way giving me so much time.

“We’ve not given the donkeys any names yet. We were thinking Snakey, MVG, Gerwyn, and Bully!

No seriously, the kids will get to give them their names.

“It’s been a fantastic distraction for the kids to have something so different to do. But for dad is been really hard labor for a few weeks now!” Cross admits that he is chomping at the bit to get back to big-time darts but is happy that the Home Tour is keeping him focused on practice.

Rob added: “I’m really missing the competition to be fair. You get so used to the traveling and rivalries, that’s what motivates me.“I’m not quite sure what will happen with the World Matchplay in late July, I was hoping to still be able to defend my title but that seems very unlikely now. “Whatever happens I won’t stress about it. I’m not that sort of person. Whenever it goes ahead, I’ll get the chance to defend it. 

What the hell’s that? It looks like four donkeys from here!

“The Home Tour has been very different. I think I was very lucky to get through the first group stage, I didn’t exactly set the world alight. But I got over the line.“I will have to up my game big time to get past Ryan, Luke and Daniel. They are such great players and people will realise that in years to come. Luke obviously hit a nine-darter in his opening group, he’s no mug!

“I think this is probably the tournament of the underdog. I know that Gary Anderson is through but so many top seeds have gone out, it proves once again just how strong the standard is in the PDC.”


Pics: Taylor Lanning