I recently had the pleasure to interview another humble BDO player (they can’t all be like this surely?!) – Pip Blackwell. Not only was he humble and helpful, he was keen for us to see if we could find a different nickname for him! Jump to the bottom of the interview if you’d like suggest something straightaway… or maybe have a quick read of the article first to get some inspiration.
A quick look at Darts Database would suggest that Pip has been playing the BDO circuit for a number of years – his first listed tournament is the BDO Gold Cup in the summer of 2007. The reality is that he’s only seriously been playing in ranking tournaments for just over a year. In that time Pip has risen to be a top ten player.
He’s been consistent, if not spectacular in the last few months, but many would argue (including me), that actually, being consistent is more important to long-term success than a spectacular performance every so often. Pip is still looking for his first ranking tournament win, but has reached four finals in the last year. His consistency has taken him to three quarter-finals in the last six tournaments – it’s surely only a matter of time before Pip has that spot of luck that is needed to win your first big prize.
I’ve read in a few places, that similar to me, you started playing in the mid-1980’s, when you were eleven. My ‘career’ has stayed in pubs and clubs – what has your journey to top ten in the world been like?
“To be honest mate it’s been a bit of a blur! I just wanted to do enough to get to Lakeside, I never thought I would get into the top 16 let alone any higher. It’s also very tiring – so much traveling.”
Although you’ve played the BDO circuit since 2007, things really started to move for you in 2014, especially in August when you reached the Swedish Open and British Classic finals, losing to Alan Norris on both occasions. Tell us about your year and your thoughts on losing to Alan in those two finals.
“I’ve only played on the BDO circuit for 1 year really. I played a few competitions in the past, but not more than about 2 in any year. Despite not winning any tournaments in 2014, it’s been good playing in 3 finals. Firstly against Scott Mitchell in Germany – I missed a few doubles and Scott punished me beating me 6-3. The British Classic was the one I could of won – I missed tops for the match. Then in Sweden Alan (Norris) was just untouchable – he just didn’t miss anything. It’s a shame he’s gone to the PDC! (laughs) Sorry Alan.”
“The British Classic was the one I could of won – I missed tops for the match.”
Do you wait with anticipation after each tournament to see how it has affected your BDO Rankings?
“I would be a liar if I said I didn’t, but a few of my mates don’t give me a chance! As soon as they have changed I get a few text telling me how good or how bad I’m doing! (laughs)
More recently you’ve reached the last eight in the Jersey Open, Sunpark Masters and the Dutch Open earlier this month – what do you think is missing at the moment to go that extra couple of matches and win a BDO Ranking tournament?
“When I do win one I will know for sure mate, but until then I think you also need that little bit of luck that goes hand-in-hand with winning, but I’ll keep on practicing ’til I get there.”
Depending on where you read, your nickname is either Pip the Tip or The Pipinator – which of the two do you prefer and use?
“Pipinator has been my nickname since I starting playing Superleague for Tovil, which I still play for. I have it on my dart stems – I’m still looking for a better one any ideas?”
No ideas from me, but perhaps we could get people reading this to make suggestions?
“Yes mate, that’s fine. No worries – should be interesting.” (laughs)
Well, you heard the man. Make any suggestions you have on the form at the bottom of the interview.
Who is your darting hero and do you follow or play any other sports?
“Eric Bristow has to be the best, just because of his sheer cockiness and he never seemed to doubt himself. He said it, had it, then went on to win everything. I used to play football ’til I was 30, then my knees couldn’t take it anymore (laughs). I watch any and all sports not so much cricket though, too boring!”
Presumably you play County matches, Superleague and maybe the odd exhibition. How do you find fitting that all in around work and family life?
“At the moment I’m only playing Superleague. I’m just going to sign again for the Kent county team. It is a bit of a struggle to find time for everything but I try to make time to spend with the family whenever I can. My wife is really supportive so that really helps.”
Just how exciting was your first taste of the BDO Lakeside World Championships last month?
“It’s hard to put into words, but when you walk onto the stage, with everyone cheering, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up – gives you goose bumps all over and it’s something you I never forget that’s for sure. I told my cousin when I was 14 I was going to play at the Lakeside, so it’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, but time fly’s when your up there!”
“It’s hard to put into words, but when you walk onto the stage, with everyone cheering, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up – gives you goose bumps all over and it’s something you I never forget that’s for sure.”
Pip Blackwell, talking about the Lakeside stage
What are your darting hopes for 2015? Another trip to the Lakeside in January 2016 perhaps?
“I have a few hopes – stay in the top 16, win a major tournament and yes, definitely to get back to the Lakeside.”
Clearly there is a bigger, brasher alternative to the BDO and nobody could reasonably blame any player for considering a move to the PDC. Is it something that you have or might consider in the future?
“I don’t think anyone can say they wouldn’t consider it. It just depends if the right opportunity presented itself at the right time – then why not? I think the format they play is a lot better as when you go to a BDO tournament you don’t know whether your playing best of 5 legs or best of 7 legs at A Category competition! That part of why it seems more professional at the PDC. It’s easier to organize only 128 players rather than 2,400 odd at some BDO competitions! It’s lucky we love the sport!”
A New Nickname
Now, being a great sport, Pip has asked that we make as many suggestions for his new nickname as we can. So here’s your chance. Use this form to let us know your inspirational ideas…
Thanks very much for talking to me Pip. Good luck for the rest of 2015 – hopefully that title win will be just around the corner.
Next on my list of interviews – Fallon Sherrock, Ladies World Number Four.
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