We have been lucky enough to gain an interview with Northern Ireland Darts Organisation Chairman and NI darts legend Geoff Wylie.
We know you are very experienced and have played many many international games and won the England Open and played in the PDC and BDO, but how did you start throwing darts?
It was a bit of fun at the start but then I noticed there was something there so got on the board and practiced. I enjoyed the winning part, even league games.
Who have been your role models or inspiration – not necessarily in darts?
A lot, but the one that stood out was out was Davy Rock, he was the best about in my early days and when asked to play pairs with him it was special – a hard master but great achievements are derived from that. Eric Bristow is another, always had time when making my first internationals and a lifelong friend. I still have his number on my phone to this day and have great memories. The main one was and still is my wife Ann, as she had to put up with all the travelling and time away listening to highs and lows, the shoulds and could haves and still 100% behind me.
What was your first competition win that stands out and who was it against?
Best that stands out was the England Open. I beat Roland Scholten in the last eight, Peter Manley in semi final and Raymond van Barneveld in the final. This got me my first full time sponsor plus the first player from here to win a BDO major. Then I started to room and played pairs with Mike Gregory for the next couple of years great memories.
Recently we have seen a lot of NI based players make the transition to the BDO and PDC, do you think the NIDO is increasing in standard and we are becoming more competitive to the BICC and PDC standard?
Yes for sure. There are a lot of good players that can mix it with the best but only if you dedicate and put in the commitment on the board will you get results you deserve. You must be fully committed to come close, you can’t pick one or two tournaments and hope, you must give 100% to what you want.
Your role as Chairman of NIDO must be challenging at times, what one thing would you like to change in NIDO, given the opportunity?
Being chairman is never easy if something goes wrong, it’s lies with me. We have had a hard five years with some people working against the grain all the time, but last year I put an executive in place, five people plus myself. From there we have gained new sponsors – Indigo and Smithwicks just to name a couple. We have a hard working team with a new venue so things are on the up and looking good for the future. I now want to put some more effort towards the youth, as to me there is not enough for them and remember they are our future in the sport.
The Celtic Challenge was from our perspective a great weekend of darts, will NIDO continue in this challenge with the other nations?
Yes for sure its guaranteed for the next couple of years and other teams already wanting in, so looks good for the present.
What darts do you use – flights, stems and barrel.
My darts are custom made, I always designed my own darts so they are made for me. With flights and stems I try different ones, but at present I am playing with cuesoul – thanks to Neil Duff.
What is your favourite double?
I like 16 and tops but it’s a strong part of my game so I don’t mind – its getting to them now lol
Recently the NIDO tournaments moved to the Nortel Social Club, what did the executive think of the move, was it successful?
Fantastic entry for our first day with over 174 entries in men. We were in a small room but this has now being sorted and will start and finish much earlier next time. Also the ladies and youth will have a bigger and better room. I think it’s a keeper.
Apart from the usual suspects, who should we look out for – new or returning players on the local ladies, mens and youth, circuit this season?
Too many to pick from and the standard is going up all the time. I think we are now in a good place to bring out the best going forward.
Wearing your Area 2 hat now, what do you think are Area 2s chances of winning the 1st division?
I have played for Area 2 for thirty plus years and will continue to do so till we don’t have a team. I don’t chase the glory as in Area 2 we have it already. I think we have a very good chance to regain the county’s championship as it was ours to win, but strange things happen in darts.
We have noticed that the NIDO Pairs is jot on the calendar, is that correct or is it to be decided?
Hopefully it will be back with the new venue as it may attract more entries.
What do you think NIDO should do to increase the participation in the tournaments?
One of the main things was the change of venue. The members now need to support the tournaments. It looks good from here forward.
What is your favourite venue to play in Northern Ireland?
I love all the venues as every club put in a lot of time to make things right so I enjoy them all.
Will the NIDO be using Gladiator boards, in future?
If we have to we will but at present Winmau is the one board supplier that gives us help at present.
Who has been your favourite pairs partner?
Few good ones here Martin Adams, Eric Bristow and Mike Gregory. Locally Davy Rock, George McDowell, John McGowan and big John elder all take a bow for putting up with me. All of them are all so special to me.
Toughest person to beat in a darts game?
Now everyone lol. But there is a lot of class out there, so l respect them all and yourself Johnny when you have the dart head on.
Best finisher on the circuit?
Myself 15 years ago. Nowadays Kyle, Chris and Neil, but so so many to mention.
Most likely to hit a double double finish?
Darnell McCrory would be the one to try it most hitting it ????
Most likely to get a bounce out?
Geoffrey Matthews gets a few of those, as does Chris Gilliland with his light throw.
Most likely to miss count?
Freddie McMullan was always at it, and I am sure hasn’t changed lol.
Best marker on the circuit?
Alan Brown or Tony Rimmer.
Biggest moaner on the circuit?
Come on now how long do you want the list to be and by the way for all the smart asses out there, I have changed! But Neil Duff and John Elder must be close contenders lol.
Would like to thank everyone for the great years in darts I have had so far, at home and all over the world and hopefully will live to enjoy a few more years in one of the best games ever played. Thanks so much Johnny you are doing a great job.