”I always book the three weeks in the hotel no matter what. I go up a good few days beforehand. I used to watch the stage being built at the Ally Pally”
GARY ANDERSON holds the record for the longest winning run of the World Championship – now he’s hungry for more.
The Flying Scotsman begins his bid for a hat-trick of titles at the Ally Pally tonight (Sat) against either Simon Whitlock or Paolo Nebrida.
Ando, 52, surrendered a 3-1 lead to Michael van Gerwen in the third round of the World Championship on December 28, 2013.
The Flying Scotsman was so angry by the manner of his defeat he didn’t lose again for 17 matches until January 2, 2017…to Van Gerwen once again.
Not only does he hold the longest run of wins in N22 but also has hit the most 180s at the Palace, standing at 513 before this year’s tournament, ahead of MVG at 482, Adrian Lewis 385, Michael Smith 351 and Raymond van Barneveld 310.
Ironically last year’s tournament, a third round defeat to Chris Dobey, was the earliest exit for the Scot since that pivotal defeat to Van Gerwen in 2013.
But that old Ando hunger is back for more glory. After falling out of love with the sport during the pandemic, he is now loving life back on the oche and winning big matches. His face also lights up when he thinks of driving up Muswell Hill again.
Asked whether he could have quit the sport last year, Anderson said: “Oh yes quite happily. I kind of did for a bit.
“But to get on that Ally Pally stage, to drive up the road and see it on the hill, that’s when your wee bum cheeks start to go!
“It’s a feeling that you cannot explain.”
Anderson also revealed his passion for the Ally Pally even includes watching the stage built.
On his usual preparations for his annual stay in London for his birthday (December 22) and Christmas, he added: “I don’t go there and say ‘I’m going to do this or that’. It just happens, it’s weird.
“I usually have my birthday in a hotel room. When I turned 50 I was sitting in my hotel room having a cup of coffee watching some rubbish on telly.
“I always book the three weeks in the hotel no matter what. I go up a good few days beforehand. I used to watch the stage being built at the Ally Pally.
“I just love sitting and watching it all getting built. Nobody ever shows that. I like watching how things are done.
“The boys who set up the stage never get any recognition. It’s a cracking operation.”
Anderson is always a threat at AP. He’s now had five finals, losing three to Adrian Lewis, MVG and Gerwyn Price.
But whatever happens, Ando is happy with what he has achieved on the biggest stage of all. The stand-out moment was beating Phil Taylor to win his first title in 2015.
He added: “Playing Phil in the final and beating him on that stage. That was his stage.
“Nobody will win it as many times as Phil. Unless young Luke Littler comes along and starts winning the World Championship now.
“If he wins it now he’ll need to keep winning until he’s 32. He’s got a chance!
“People say I’ve never made it to World No.1. Taylor was that far in front. I won two world titles back-to-back and lost in the third and I still never got close to his ranking.
“Now it’s a bigger pot of £500,000, you leapfrog people. But if I win it now, I’ll still be about 10th!
“I got to No.2, I’ve done alright, won a few titles. I’ve won a few ProTours this year which I’m impressed with.
“I’ve probably done a lot more than I expected to do. One regret, I never actually took darts as seriously like your MVG, your Eric Bristows, your Taylor. They were darts, darts, darts.
“What will be, will be. I’ve always had that attitude. But I’ve done well.
“I played the BDO for many years, PDC, seen the world. Managed to take the family all over the world; Dubai, China, New Zealand. Lifted a few titles.
“If I finished playing darts, I’d be more than happy.”
Words by Phil Lanning