INTERVIEW: Hamilton on returning to PDC Tour: "It was a long road but I wasn't going to give up"
Andy Hamilton is a player who has seen both the highs and lows of top level darts reaching the PDC World Championship, Grand Slam and UK Open final previously and being a main part of the Premier League.
Hamilton's form dwindled though and he lost his Tour Card at the end of the 2017 season deciding to take a year away from the PDC Tour and this prompted him to rebuild and play in the BDO.
'The Hammer' is now back in the PDC after finding his form again winning through Q-School and he sat down recently with DartsNews.com to reflect on his return to the tour and being back in familiar surroundings.
"It’s a pleasure to be back in the PDC, I’ve worked really hard over the last few months, I’ve had a long time away and it feels better than ever to be back, it was a long road but I wasn’t going to give up," said Hamilton to DartsNews.com.
"I loved my two years playing on the BDO tour, I met some really great people and made some brilliant friends, I learned to love playing the game again.
I went into it on the back of a really poor two years of PDC, I had to do something right for me not just darts wise but mentally too. The PDC is great, one of the best things is the consistency, you have the same set up every week (same boards, oches, lighting etc), you can really get used to things."
"I play local league in Stoke on Trent with Ian White in the week so it’s been a real comfort going back into the PDC with a good friend there too, I feel really fortunate to have gone back in and be able to spend time with positive people that make me want to play better (Ian, Adrian Lewis, Michael Smith, Gary Anderson & James Wade)."
Improvement in standard
Being away for a few years, the game has seen a massive upturn especially on the Players Championship series and this is something that Hamilton can see and that spurs him on to get better.
"To be honest the game has progressed massively in the two years I was away, I wouldn’t say that there are more spectacular performances overall, (we didn’t have the chance to record averages before) but the consistency of the quality in most games is that little bit higher," said the Stoke-on-Trent ace.
"I’m losing with 90+ averages, but from where I’ve been I’m glad that I’m playing better, I haven’t had the best of results so far but I know if I keep working hard the results will come my way."
Darting action has been disrupted for a while due to COVID-19 also known as Coronavirus meaning that many people have to stay at home and events have been cancelled.
For 'The Hammer' while he'd rather be playing, he says there is a bigger picture and that he has to find new ways to practice now.
"I’m gutted about not having the opportunity to play for now but what is most important is everyone’s health, the problem is you might feel fine but you could be asymptomatic or in the early part of viral contraction.
Social distancing is really important at the moment, darts will always be there come the end of the pandemic. To be honest I’m not a great home practicer, I enjoy match practice in leagues/knockouts and practice sessions with Darryl Fitton of course I won’t be doing these for a while now so I’ll be finding a way to make sure I’m kept on my toes with practice!"
Future of BDO
Having been a part of the BDO system for the past few years, Hamilton was also asked about his thoughts on the future of the BDO now that Des Jacklin, who divided many has left his role as chairman and while he admits it wasn't the ran the best towards the end of the run, he spoke positively about having the grass roots system itself.
"I’m really not sure what the future holds for the BDO, the last 6 months I was there things seemed to go downhill quite rapidly. What I do know for sure is that the people playing in the BDO are of massive importance to the game, the BDO gives you that chance in life to have a go, it doesn’t cost a lot to enter a tournament but what you can gain from it really is second to none," continued 'The Hammer'.
"People have to remember that not everyone can make the PDC straight away, after all there’s only ever around 30 tour cards available and they only come up for grabs once a year in an all or nothing week (I’ve seen both sides of that week now too!!)."
"Like I said earlier in the interview the BDO was really vital to me, after not attending Q-School initially I had to make a decision for my best interest and playing the BDO was that choice for me, it gave me that opportunity to keep playing.
I’ve already noticed James Richardson has started well this year after losing his card, it makes a difference to play not under that pressure of a tour card, he’ll do well and go back to Q-School stronger."
Finally in terms of ambitions for the rest of the year, he has one main goal in mind for the end of the season: "This year I’ve just got to enjoy myself and not get to disappointed if results don’t go my way, I’ve got two years to get to the top 64. I’ve only played in two Euro Tour Qualifiers and managed to get through them both winning some really tough games.
I’d like to start getting to the top 64 of Pro Tour events more consistently and then build towards getting to top 32, 16, 8 etc. I’d probably say my biggest aim this year is to make the World Championships. I’ll take the rough with the smooth but one thing is for sure I’ll work hard to make sure I can play my best."