Darts players’ old jobs – from postie to life on dole before millions

Darts players’ old jobs – from postie to life on dole before millions

February 17, 2022

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Surrounded by roaring fans clambering for a high five, darts players must feel like a million dollars as their theme tune begins to thump out before being cheered towards the main stage.

And the current crop of Premier League Darts stars are now enjoying this adrenaline rush each Thursday night in cities across the UK.

But being paid to throw darts in front of raucous crowds is a remarkable contrast to the traditional jobs many players used to have.

And as we approach night three of the Cazoo Premier League at The SSE Arena in Belfast, we take a look at the different gigs these darting pros paid their bills with before making it to the oche.

Peter Wright

Peter Wright’s name is now indelible in darting history after becoming a two-time world champion earlier this year.

And despite now being a multi-millionaire, his journey to the top has been rocky.

He said goodbye to the sport not long after qualifying for his first World Darts Championship in 1995.

Desperate for cash, he fitted windows, hauled concrete fence posts and grafted on building sites and holiday camps.

He then had a stint on the dole before returning to darts almost 20 years after his first appearance.

And Wright – who also changed his name to 'Snakebite' – is now reaping the rewards.

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Jonny Clayton

Unlike many of his fellow pros, Jonny Clayton has refused to become a full-time darts player – despite winning four premier events last year, including the Premier League.

He still earns money on the side as a part-time plasterer even though he claimed £400,000 in prize money in 2021.

But the humble Welshman still puts in a shift for Carmarthenshire County Council.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Star last month, he said: "I would be a liar to say I have not considered it. But in a way, I am scared to give up my job, because things are working for me at the moment. I have not changed anything and I am doing well.

"I do not know what would happen if I finished my work and concentrated on my darts. If things went wrong, I don't know how I'd take that.

"At the moment, I would be a liar to say I haven't thought about quitting my job, but I am not going to at the moment because I just feel that things are working for me.

"I have always played the game darts while working so I am not changing that at the minute and I don't plan to anytime soon."

Gerwyn Price

Fist-pumping showman Gerwyn Price is no stranger to sporting adrenaline.

In 2021 he became the first ever Welshman to win the world title – but his past occupation was also in pro sports.

The swaggering star – who calls himself 'The Iceman' – used to play in rugby league and rugby union.

And the former hooker starred in the Welsh Premier League and in the Pro12 before reaching the pinnacle of darts.

He once told Sky Sports he had no regrets about quitting a team game for throwing arrows.

He said: "I don't think I would give up everything in darts for that one cap for Wales.

"Maybe if I was going to have a long career – an Alun Wyn Jones career – 100 plus caps and a British and Irish Lions player – a Welsh legend – maybe I would give it up then, but I'm happy playing darts, and I'm enjoying it."

Michael van Gerwen

Energetic Dutchman Michael van Gerwen has been one of most feared darts players since winning his first World Championship in 2014.

But before becoming a superstar, he once tiled Dennis Bergkamp’s bathroom.

MVG – who wore overalls to work – told the Daily Mirror: "When I was a teenager, I used to work as a tiler back home in Holland, and the biggest job I ever had was putting up the tiles in Dennis Bergkamp’s bathroom.”

And he added: “When I was fitting those tiles, I never thought I would be a millionaire by the time I was 24.

“But it proves that if you work hard and do well at the major tournaments, you can make a good living out of being a professional darts player. I don’t think I would have been this rich if I had worked as a tiler until I was 70.”

Van Gerwen, now 32, is a multi-millionaire and has three world titles to his name.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith was one win away from glory after losing to Peter Wright in the PDC World Darts Championship final earlier this year.

He has now set his sights on the Premier League – but performing in front of thousands of fans is a much noisier environment to what he was once used to.

That’s because Smith, who is from St Helens, used to work on a cattle farm, which is where his nickname 'Bully Boy' originated.

He told The Mirror: “It was nothing to do with darts. When the cows gave birth, the farm owner – who used to be a bouncer at my auntie’s pub – got me to help with tagging the new-born calves.

"For 35 minutes, I got slammed in cowpats and cow’s muck. They didn’t always like it and I had one on its back, my fingers in its nose, legs in the air. He called me a bully, and that’s how the nickname stuck.

"For the record, I’m not a bully or an aggressive person by nature – far from it – but when I needed a nickname, that’s what came to mind.”

With the money he’s collected from darts, Smith, 31, has converted one of his properties into a farm.

Gary Anderson

Darts legend Gary Anderson is a two-time world champ who has raked in millions of pounds in prize money.

And the smiling Scotsman has worked many different jobs over the years – including as a builder.

But he also ran a boozer called The Wellington Arms in Somerset on the behalf of fellow dartsman Steve Grubb.

There pub landlord Anderson managed a darts team made up of ladies champion Trina Gulliver, ex-pro Justin Pipe and former world number one Mark Webster.

During his career, Anderson has received acclaim from other sporting greats – including Real Madrid ace Toni Kroos.

The footballer once tweeted: “Congrats Gary Anderson! Great final! #lovethedarts #180 #power.”

Joe Cullen

Joe Cullen is making his Premier League Darts debut this year and has already impressed by coming from 5-2 down to beat world number one Gerwyn Price in Liverpool.

But before he himself became an established sportsman, the Bradford player worked as a postman.

He gave up delivering parcels in 2009 to follow his dream of making it in darts.

And just one year later he beat Phil Taylor in the John McEvoy Gold Dart Classic in Killarney.

He went on to publicise that his big goal was to one day reach the Premier League, where he is now playing.

James Wade

James Wade is a Premier League Darts regular having competed in 12 campaigns to date.

He won the competition back in 2009 but is still searching for his second title.

The Englishman – who is married to former walk-on girl and model Sammi Marsh – has earned a fortune in prize money.

And his rags to riches story started in 2006 when he quit his job at a garage before playing in the World Matchplay days later.

But the mechanic – also a patron of the Bipolar UK charity – returned to fixing cars during the pandemic to help NHS staff and key workers.

Nicknamed 'The Machine', he also founded Precision Auto Services with his father back in 2012.

  • Gerwyn Price
  • Michael van Gerwen
  • Peter Wright
  • Darts

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