Interview; Nigel Heydon – The Undertaker

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Continuing the Darts, Beers & Cheers tradition of bring you the best darts interviews around (see our full list here), I am proud to bring you the words of Nigel ‘The Undertaker‘ Heydon – who has been making waves in the PDC pro scene since joining this year.  His name is often mentioned on darts forums as a ‘dangerous’ player – and he’s been taking some scalps on the pro tour.  Nigel is already ranked 61 – which is pretty amazing in year 1!  His position in the player championship order of merit means he will ‘probably’ qualify for the World Championships in December – and you may have seen him play in the UK Open (last 16 there). So mark my words, Nigel is a class player who you may be seeing a lot more on the TV.

Anyway – I’ll shut-up and bring you his answers…

Q.  Nigel, the poster created for the ‘face off’ exhbition list you in the ‘promising local amateur’ side the names – things have changed since then for you haven’t they?

I still feel a promising Local Player at this time of my career, I still have a full Time job as an Undertaker so really Semi Pro .When you see the card for Face Off I haven’t earned (Yet) to be classed with the likes of Phil Etc.

Q. When did you first start playing darts – and when did it get ‘serious’ for you?

I started at the aged of five on a stool on a Sunday Afternoon in my families living room , Father and Mother were mad on darts and played local leagues.  Started local league at the age of 14, played superleague for three years in my 20’s but not making the county etc.  Then I met the wife and she had 4 children and we had one child between us so life changed for awhile.  I got back to playing superleague 2004 and 2005 and made county where I stayed till last year winning my last 15 games.  Now in 2010 its serious; it’s not a hobby anymore it’s a job.

Q. It feels like you’ve ‘come out of nowhere’ in 2010, shooting up the rankings, and appearing in huge TV tournaments twice (UK Open and most probably the worlds later this year) – has it been a fast climb for you – or isn’t that a fair statement?

Yes to the public I have come from nowhere but pro’s have been getting used to me, I’ve been playing against them for about 4 years in local comps where I have a good record.  Played BDO tour 08/09 in England but only got last 32’s and around there (would of been in the 12 man England Squad if I had stayed this year).  This year has been awesome felt at home straight away with results showing that.  This Is Darts (my sponsor) saw I had the game to do well PDC and I must thank him for his support because there is no way I would in the position I am today without his backing.

Q. I’m not sure if you follow or use any of the online darts forums?   (I’m sure I saw you post once of twice on the stars of darts forum?)

Yes I do go on a few of them don’t know if that’s a good thing sometimes, but they can be quite interesting.  Good for finding the next comp to goto etc.

Q.  .. either way.. do you realise your name is often put forward on the forums as one of the ‘dark horses’ on the pro tour – a player to be watched out for?

Yes, I was at the beginning, up to the UK open where people backed me there as 1000/1 was a nice price for a  consistent player.  I’m still in the lower order but I am one of the players the pro’s don’t enjoy first round in the pro tour when we get our board draw.

Q.  When I look across your 2010 results, you’ve been extremely consistent in winning money at nearly every pro tour event (more so than most non seeded players) – would you say consistency is one of your strengths?

For sure, I am a strong scorer which gives me a few more chances at the double which is where my game needs to improve if  I am going to make the next step up (Top 50).

Q.  How do you think 2010 is going for you?   Better or worse than you expected… and have you set yourself any targets going forwards?

Well to start the way I did was awesome to get to a semi in my first weekend.  To get to Reebok and make last 16 (shame I didn’t get main stage would have been great experience). Blackpool would have been a bonus but at the start we said Top 50 and make the Worlds so its looking good.  Looking forward is just the Worlds and making sure I am at the top of my game come December, form has dipped the last few weeks so working hard to get it back the next few weeks ahead.

Q.  Speaking of targets – things are looking pretty good for you for a place in the worlds (I have you in the ‘fairly safe’ bracket now – but I know nothing is certain)…  how much are you looking forward to playing at Alexandra Palace in front of that crowd and TV audiences?

Everyone says I am there but like you say nothing is certain as yet, I can’t wait.  You join the PDC knowing its on the cards and I love the buss and the atmosphere, the crowd seem to be changing over the last year so that might get some getting use to.

… and have you got your TV walk-on all sorted?

If I can use it, it will be The Undertaker Walk on, its just a bit of fun will see how it goes at Face Off? (the exhibition end of Nov that Nigel is part of)

Q.  The UK Open was probably one of the first times a lot of darts fans will have seen you (and as a lot only watch TV darts, heard of you) – where you happy with your last 16 finish… and what was the experience like?

I felt I let myself down in the last 16 game with Wes, first time on the stage with lights etc and boy it was hot.  Learned from that and will be ready next time for sure. But to play in the latter stages of the TV comp was a help for the future I feel.

Q.  What sort of character are you – are you a different person when ‘working’ on the pro tour weekends?

I am one who enjoys a beer, a game of darts, and a game of pool.  I am just a local Pub dart player (A good one yes) who has the chance to make it to the big stage.

Q.  Fans are often surprised by which players are friends – who are the players you hang around with on the pro tour?

We have a great team in THIS Is DARTS so we all travel together and room. I have a great friends in (Team sponsor Stuart Bliss) players; Tony Randall , Ian McFarlane, Kirk Shepherd, Scott Rand, Andy Hutchings, Nick Fullwell, but must say everyone has made me feel very welcome which has been a great help.

Q. If you’re not playing – are there any other players who you just have to watch their games?

We tend to watch the players listed above but enjoy watching Andy Smith and Jamie Atkins (profile here).

Q.  You were obviously using the nickhame ‘the butcher’ – but recently changed to ‘the undertaker’ – what’s the story behind the change?

I had been a Butcher all my life till 6 years ago changed jobs to work in the Funeral Service. An Undertaker being called the butcher isn’t great so between us we decided to change it, a few ideas were put forward and the idea of ‘The Undertaker’ with the music etc sounded good fun?

Q.  And finally looking to the future – where do you hope to be in 2011/2012.. or are you the sort of person who just see’s where things will take you?

I am going to enjoy the rest of this year with the chance of making the Grand Slam come Nov and the Worlds come Dec, next year we will see?

A great interview I’m sure you’ll agree – thanks to Nigel for taking the time out to answer my questions, and best of luck to him!  I’m sure I’ll continue to bring news of his successes in the coming months and years!  You can find Nigel’s own website here for more information and a chance to sponsor him.

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