Andy Hamilton has urged the British Darts Organisation to resolve their glaring administrative issues and improve their communication with players and fans alike following the controversy that marred the recent World Masters at the Circus Tavern.
Chaos and confusion reigned at one of darts’ most prestigious events, won by a host of legends since it’s inception in 1974, with Eric Bristow MBE, Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen among those to etch their name on the roll of honour.
Farcical scenes saw BDO chairman Des Jacklin take to the stage and explain that the advertised format was wrong and a number of international players in the venue who had qualified for the event, were not registered to play, which meant they were forced to conduct a re-draw.
Nevertheless, further chaos ensued when it was discovered that fake names were placed in the draw, allegedly so they could be replaced with genuine players if too many turned up, whilst information on prize money was also withheld from the players.
It also emerged that players were forced to sign a contract stating they will not compete in December’s PDC World Championship should they qualify for either the World Masters or BDO World Championship and failure to comply would make them ‘ineligible to receive prize money from the World Masters’ and could result in court action.
Former PDC World Championship finalist Hamilton, currently ranked 12th in the BDO system – was one of several high-profile early casualties as he slipped to a straight sets defeat to Keith Geraghty in the last 64.
In an exclusive interview on the Josh’s Dartistry Podcast, Hamilton revealed that he ultimately lost interest in the event due to the shambolic lack of organisation and transparency.
“The BDO have got problems – I don’t know what they are,” Hamilton told Josh’s Dartistry. “There’s a lack of communication from everyone around the players, the fans – I think the board themselves don’t even know what is going on sometimes. Something needs to be done where it can move on.
“I think it has affected me this year and my motivation sometimes and one circumstance was obviously the World Masters where I just got really down about what was going on there and I lost interest in the Masters itself.
“I was meant to play my game at 2pm and all the top 16 players went down there – I don’t want to say what went on there but the whole situation of having a re-draw; I didn’t even know about the false names until afterwards and I think there were a lot more things which I won’t go into.
“It’s just wrong how it has all been done. It’s just wrong for a player getting motivated for a competition which has probably just been downgraded with what happened. It’s a shame really because we always want to play darts.
“We want to know what we’re doing, we want to know the format, we want to know the prize money, we want to know the draw. Some things are coming to the forefront but not quickly enough for the players, so as a result players are getting demotivated and just sometimes don’t want to be there,” he added.
Hamilton made his BDO World Championship bow at Lakeside in January, losing in the preliminary round to Canada’s David Cameron. However, the Stoke-on-Trent star will be seeded for the 2020 BDO World Championship at London’s Indigo at the O2, where he hopes such issues will not resurface.
“These things could happen again but hopefully they’ll learn from this mistake,” said the 52-year-old. “Somebody is at fault for what’s happened, I don’t know if it is a mistake or not. It needs to be resolved because you don’t want this happening again.
“It’s no good for the BDO organisation whatsoever. It’s just downgrading them for being unprofessional so hopefully they get it sorted for the World Championship because it’s very prestigious for every player and every fan out there. It’s got to be right so hopefully something will be done in the next few weeks.
“Every player and all the fans are there – they just needs communication – some correspondence that they can relate to. At the moment there’s nothing at all and all people are doing is asking questions. We should know them [answers] already.
“Hopefully down the line this can be resolved and we won’t need to ask these questions and the questions we’re asking will just be related to ourselves and not the whole organisation.”
Hamilton has featured on the BDO circuit for the last two years, after relinquishing his PDC Tour Card at the end of 2017. ‘The Hammer’ reached the PDC World Championship final in 2012 and also competed in the Premier League in the same year – reaching the semi-finals.
He consistently featured in the latter stages of major tournaments having also reached finals at the UK Open and Grand Slam of Darts in 2013 and 2007 respectively, but personal problems plighted his game which saw him drop out of the world’s top 64 after a 14-year spell in the PDC.
The Stoke thrower admits he contemplated retirement having opted not to attend Qualifying School in January 2018 but he expressed his pride at the way in which he’s got his career back on track.
“[Retirement] always crossed my mind. I was due to go to Australia in January 2018 while Q School was on. I decided not to do Q School because I would do myself more harm than good, so I decided to go to Australia for a few exhibitions,” said Hamilton.
“There were a few big professionals there including Phil Taylor. I played in some great competitions there playing class players. It got me back because I beat Kyle Anderson and I believed I had my game back again but obviously I couldn’t go back to Q School because it had already been done then.
“Any other player could just give in and say: ‘Right that’s it, I can’t do it anymore’. Obviously people give in because of the competition but I just dug deep. I’m doing what I normally do, just fight, fight and fight. I’ve proved I’ve got everything there still.
“I’ve proved I’m still playing good darts. I’m a bit inconsistent at the moment but it happens in life. If I get the consistency back again I’ll be a danger. I’m just looking forward to the future and playing in which organisation – whatever.”
The vast majority of the PDC’s elite began their careers in the BDO before crossing codes, although Hamilton’s career path has been somewhat of a role reversal.
Yet whilst he acknowledges fundamental problems within the BDO, he admits he’s felt very welcomed by players and officials alike and believes other established players who lose their PDC Tour Cards could follow a similar path, with Wes Newton and Jamie Caven among those to have played on the BDO circuit in 2019.
“I had never played in the BDO so that was a new challenge for me and it worked out well because I got to know some of the players already and I made new friends there; they welcomed me with open arms. Without that there, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“It’s a choice you can make in life. There’s options there which you can go and keep playing darts. If you want to play darts there are places you can go. If you don’t get your Tour Card there is still the Challenge Tour, there’s the BDO.
“You can do things in between because the BDO have let those doors open a little bit where they welcome players who haven’t got their Tour Card to come and play either side of opens as such, so it gives that player more of a scope to play more darts.”
As aforementioned, the next major BDO event on the horizon is the 2020 World Championship, where Hamilton will face the winner of the preliminary round tie between Darren Herewini or Simon Stainton in the first round.
However, the former Premier League star exclusively revealed that irrespective of his exploits in London, he will compete at Qualifying School in January 2020 because he maintains that he has still got unfinished business in the PDC.
“The 2020 BDO World Championship is the foremost thing at the moment – I’m preparing for that at the moment, doing a lot of practice. I have made up my mind – I am going to go to Q School because I think I need to have one more bash at the PDC.
“I started there and I want to finish there – nothing against the BDO. It’s a good step for me but again if I don’t get a Tour Card there’s still places I can still play darts but first and foremost I want a Tour Card.
“I believe I can [achieve in the PDC]. I’m not saying I am going to get there but as long as I believe I can get to my best, compete and beat big players then I’m sure I can get there again.
“I’ve got the experience, I’ve been there, I know that side of the game. I just need to get my consistency together properly which is only concentration. If everything is done properly and I have nothing else to worry about, just play darts, then I’m sure my game will come on four-fold.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC