Richard Ashdown Interview: Part Two

Welcome back for the second and final part of our interview with Little Richard Ashdown. In part one Richard spoke to us about his journey to Master of Ceremonies, BDO duties, a ‘typical’ day and troubled moments.

You can read part one here, to refresh your memory, or maybe because you enjoyed it so much the first time round(!), or simply because you haven’t already.

So Richard, do the referees have regular get-together’s to discuss their performances and possible improvements?

“Oh yes indeed! Since taking on the BDO role my top priority has been with the referees. It has a real team feel to it and that breeds confidence in us all. It does us all good to talk about any concerns, ideas or just to let off steam, so we make sure we all get together both before and after each session for a little team meeting. To be honest, we spend as much time laughing and having a bit of banter, but it keeps us all relaxed and then focused for when we get on stage. I head a very talented team of referees at the BDO and I’m very proud of them. It’s a real bonus that they’re all great guys too!”

Do you have a daytime job, or is it all about darts now?

Richard and the team (courtesy of Richard)...
Richard and the team (courtesy of Richard)…

“From leaving school I pursued a career in accountancy, but darts soon took over. I reduced a 5 day week at the office to 4 days and then down to 3. It got to the point where I had enough darts work to do it full-time and when I finalised a contract with Dutch television in 2006 it gave me the platform and security to take the plunge as a professional MC/referee/spotter. So now my work is a combination of those roles, working at both tournaments and exhibitions.

“Away from the events I spent my time keeping up to date with statistics and all the televised action. As well as the phone calls and e-mails, social networking is important and I try to keep on top of everything, promoting and preparing for up and coming events. If I have any extra time I also like to squeeze in an interview or two.” (laughs)

What’s your favourite place and tournament on the circuit?

“Lakeside is the first place that springs to mind of course. I’ve attended the BDO World Championships now for 22 years, the first 8 of those as a fan before I began spotting and then the last 2 as the MC. The atmosphere is second to none and all the history that goes with it makes it very special.

“I’ve attended the BDO World Championships now for 22 years, the first 8 of those as a fan before I began spotting and then the last 2 as the MC. The atmosphere is second to none and all the history that goes with it makes it very special.”

Richard Ashdown, on the BDO World Championships

“I also thoroughly enjoy the Winter Gardens in Blackpool for the World Matchplay and though I’ve never worked there, I’ve attended on many occasions and absolutely love it. As a tournament to watch, I’ve always been a big fan of the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, especially as the majority of the top players all play together. To attend, the Dutch Open is another amazing event due to the sheer scale of it. Around 3,000 players in one venue for a weekend makes it unlike anything else on the calendar and I’ve always loved working in the Netherlands.

Luxury travel in the company of Richie George. Picture courtesy of Scotty Mitchell, who said… “”Richie George and Richard Ashdown when they got a lift back to the airport at the Swiss Open a couple years ago – in the back of a friends van! We don’t always get VIP travel!”

“The WDF Cups are always special to be part of, as spending time with over 30 nationalities competing in one room is something that only darts can give me. The opening and closing ceremonies always mean a lot for Jacques and I to be involved in hosting. Every year is different and our trips to Denmark, USA, Turkey, Ireland, Canada and Romania have all been brilliant in their own way! The opportunity to travel has always been the best thing about my job and I’ve been lucky to see some amazing places through darts… Stockholm, Prague, Dubai, Singapore, Sydney… wow! But having said all that, you just can’t beat a weekend at Pontins Prestatyn, for the Welsh Open with the lads. I never miss it!”

Do you ever get to spend time with the organisers and referees of PDC events?

“Yes, I regularly work as a spotter at PDC events for ITV – the World Series, the Euro Tour and previously the Championship League. I’m also a regular visitor to major tournaments when I have the opportunity. Many exhibitions feature players and officials from both sides of the divide, so they are often my colleagues.

“I regularly work as a spotter at PDC events for ITV… Politics never comes into it for me and friendships have been formed with PDC officials over many years.”

Richard Ashdown, on Darting Politics

“Politics never comes into it for me and friendships have been formed with PDC officials over many years. When I took on the BDO role as their MC, I committed fully to my stage obligations which means all of my work at PDC events continues to be done behind the camera. I have always shown professionalism and integrity on both sides and I think both the BDO and PDC know that. The majority of us realise that the split was 22 years ago. There are only one or two individuals now that harbour any bad feeling at all and that remains their own problem, not mine. I’m a man who just loves darts and working with the people in it.”

Who is your sporting hero and can you throw a decent dart?

“Well as you’ve probably realised from the opening question, my hero in darts is Bobby George. I watched him on TV for the first time in 1993 when he qualified for the Lakeside after a six year absence and I was hooked. I just loved his combination of showmanship and the quirky way he used to check out… my two favourite things!

Richard with his darting hero and good friend, Bobby George.

“A year later I attended the Lakeside for the first time and saw him defeat Martin Phillips. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand and I’ll always remember that. Having got to know him and his family personally he is now a close friend, but still remains a true hero of mine and has done more for me in darts than anyone else ever could have.

“Sticking with darts, my current favourite player to watch is Michael van Gerwen and has been ever since I first saw him play when he was 16. Seeing him performing the way he is now is very satisfying, especially as so many didn’t think he would reach this level when he dipped in form 5 or 6 years ago!

“Away from darts, I’m a Spurs fan and my hero is Teddy Sheringham. I even cheered him on at Manchester United, as I knew he’d come back to us in the end. (laughs, again) Currently I’m a fan of Usain Bolt and was lucky enough to get tickets to see him at the London Olympics in the 200 meter semi-finals. I actually think we’re very alike, I mean, what’s a 6ft 5in Jamaican got that I haven’t?!”

“…what’s a 6ft 5in Jamaican got that I haven’t?”

Richard Ashdown, and rhetorical questions!

What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?

“I’ll be working on the World Series so I’m all set for trips to Dubai, Perth, Sydney and Auckland as well as Tokyo for the very first time. Can’t wait!

“…I’m all set for trips to Dubai, Perth, Sydney and Auckland as well as Tokyo for the very first time. Can’t wait!”

Richard Ashdown, on his year ahead in 2015

“As always I’ll be busy with exhibition work and that’s something I still enjoy, especially with the likes of Wayne Mardle and Bobby of course. It’s a laugh a minute! One that I’m particularly looking forward to is the Champion of Champions at Lakeside later this month, as it gives me the opportunity to bring Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld to that famous old stage as they go head to head. Dream come true!

Inspiration for Richards catchphrase, I assume! – “heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go…”

“On the tournament front I’ve hosted the BDO British Internationals in Merthyr Tydfil, and will be hosting the WDF European Cup Youth in Denmark, the Australian National Championships in Perth and the WDF World Cup itself in Turkey. I love the international events I’ve mentioned. I’ll be taking my now regular spot on the BDO, EDO, Jersey and Zuiderduin Masters stages so it’s another busy year ahead.

“I am going to try and squeeze in some time to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with my wife Kathy in August. She won’t mind that our second honeymoon is down under for the World Series of Darts, will she?! Busy times, but great times. Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s off to work we go…”

Thanks for the considerable effort in answering my questions Richard. Your answers have gone a long way to giving us an insight in to the life of the BDO’s Master of Ceremonies.

Follow Richard on Twitter or Facebook, and why not read our other interviews, including Scotty Mitchell, Jamie Hughes and Pip Blackwell. Please feel free to share this article with your friends.

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