Keegan Brown will go through the same preparation like always; he will wear his familiar pink t-shirt, pick up the same 22 gram Unicorn darts he would for any other tournament and he will have the same desire to win but he does all of this as one of our NHS heroes.

It was second time lucky for Brown on Monday as he began his charge on the PDC Home Tour event; a blip with the equipment cut short the former World Youth Champion’s attempts during night 12. After a Wi-Fi upgrade Brown took his place alongside Jose de Sousa, Reece Robinson and former UK Open winner Robert Thornton.

Brown was victorious against Robinson (5-4) and Thornton (5-2) but lost to eventual group winner Jose De Sousa (5-0). The Special One won all three games, ending the night with the best leg average (+14) of the tournament so far. The Isle of Wight gets a third chance on Sunday evening as he became second during his last attempt.

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Thoughts on PDC Home Tour

Brown, world ranked number 30, gave Darts News his thoughts on the competition. ‘I think it’s brilliant that we are able to showcase our talent during the pandemic. Lot of sports would love to be in the same situation as us but, because of social distancing ruling, they are unable to play or perform.’

Like many of us Brown is essentially doing the day job at home and is enjoying the new way of working. ‘It is surreal feeling playing darts at home whilst your opponent is miles away in Spain, Scotland and Hull! It is a new way of playing but it’s one that is being experienced by everyone playing. Like I said previously, it’s good to be back playing any darts.’

Life right now is not all about darts for Brown – he answered the call to arms from the NHS to support their fight against the Coronvirus epidemic. ‘I usually work three days a week in the lab, but I now do a minimum five days, including overnight shifts as the operation has moved to a 24-hour service. It can involve anything from receiving samples, booking in, centrifuging samples, using automated analysers and working alongside my colleagues as a team to identify health problems. Most medical conditions will be detected in this way. I am in a biochemistry and haematology laboratory identifying health problems and monitoring chronic diseases as well. We are completing our day-to-day tests as usual and now following procedures in the chain of testing for Covid-19.’

Balance between work and darts

There is now a tough balance between darts preparation and working around the clock for the NHS. Brown takes the challenge in his stride. ‘It is hard to practice in between shifts. I hope that I will be able to pick my practice routine up when normal life resumes. At the moment it’s about working in the laboratory.’ Fittingly Brown is known by his nickname ‘The Needle’ and when it is put to him he is one of our NHS heroes, a modest Brown says. ‘It is a good feeling but honestly I am just doing my job. It’s just in slightly different circumstances and on a 24 hour rota!’

None of us know what the future will hold. Many lives have been lost as the world finds itself gripped by the pandemic. The normality of everyday life has been put on hold as we live in lockdown but Brown believes we may see this new concept of darts post Coronavirus. ‘For the time being yes, but everyday rules and regulations are changing. It is definitely a case of watch this space.’

Brown has already had a taste of glory on the big stage winning the 2014 World Youth final; the match staged before the Premier League final at London’s 02 Arena. Brown edged out Austrian Rowby-John Rodriguez to claim the crown. Brown’s best run at a major tournament on the main tour came the same year, at the Grand Slam of Darts. He defeated Adrian Lewis and five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld amongst others.

Foto: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Tribute for NHS staff

Although he is dismissive of the hero tag the work Brown does away from darts is commendable. We might not know all the names or recognise the faces of the people we show our appreciation and support for each Thursday evening but it is the determination of people like Keegan Brown who keep the country running as they fight to end not just the Coronavirus epidemic but a whole range of illness and disease.

The clap for carers may be a simple tribute for the NHS staff but Brown admits it drives him on “When you can hear clapping, banging on pans and fireworks, it makes it worthwhile going to work daily in these difficult circumstances. It is not just the healthcare but all the unsung heroes that are risking their own safety every day to keep the country running. I was just arriving home from a shift last week and it really got me, my neighbours were great.”

So, what does the darts future hold for Brown? ‘Get back to playing on Pro-Tour & Euro-Tour and just keeping winning as many games as possible, and that is as simple as it gets!’

Simple aims for a man who lives a demanding life on the Isle of Wight – Keegan Brown has a big future on and off the oche.

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Author: Dan Cummerson