BDO World Darts: Scott Waites, world champion and carpenter

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Waites wins World Darts final

BDO WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Venue:
Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green
Date:
4-12 January
Coverage:
Live on BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

It's a Tuesday night before Christmas and Scott Waites hasn't got time to talk. He's just taken a delivery of dartboards.

While the British Darts Organisation (BDO) world champion probably gets through his fair share of boards, this particular batch of cork will not be pounded by Waites's tungsten but will, instead, be sold.

"It's part of my sponsorship," Waites said. "They don't pay you much in cash but they pay you in accessories. I get rid of my dartboards in all the local leagues where I live.

Scott Waites hugs Tony O'Shea after beating him at the Lakeside
Waites beat Tony O'Shea in the 2013 Lakeside final

"I could have done with them a couple of weeks earlier. They would have done as Christmas presents for everybody."

Being sold a board by Waites is like being flogged a putter by Tiger Woods or asking Novak Djokovic to restring your racquet. Then again, Woods isn't likely to tee it up in the better-ball Stableford at your local municipal, the equivalent of Waites's appearances in the midweek leagues of his native Yorkshire.

A down-to-earth world champion? That's not even half of it. Immediately after his emphatic 7-1 win over Tony O'Shea in last year's Lakeside final, Waites said he had no intention of giving up his job as a carpenter.

He has been true to his word, despite the extra exhibitions and corporate gigs that come with being the main man.

"I've always worked for a living and darts has always been my hobby," said the 36-year-old, who pocketed £100,000 for last year's Lakeside success.

"Even though I'm world champion, not a lot has changed. The company I work for have been good in giving me all the time off I need.

"But if I get an hour's practice in a night, then I've been quite lucky."

A world champion on an hour of arrows a night? The regime could scarcely be further from the total dedication of the sport's greatest ever player, Phil Taylor. Wouldn't Waites be even better if he played the game full-time?

"I ask myself the same thing," said Waites, who begins his world-title defence against Alan Norris on Saturday.

"When I go to the big tournaments - the Lakeside, the Grand Slam - I play in the afternoons, all day, and it improves my game. I do think that if I packed my job in, I'd get more consistent. But, would I also get lazy and complacent? I don't know.

"I don't know if the time will come. If a decent sponsor came along, offering so much money per year so I could give up work, then maybe I would. But I'm happy doing what I'm doing and have no plans to change that."

Working as a carpenter not only puts strain on Waites's schedule, but brings with it practical hazards for a darts player.

Before November's Grand Slam, a tournament in which he reached the semi-finals, Waites was struggling with a back injury he sustained at work.

Scott Waites poses with women's champion Anastasia Dobromyslova
Waites poses with women's champion Anastasia Dobromyslova after last year's tournament

"I think I'm still 20 years old," added Waites, seeded seventh at the Lakeside.

"I throw fire doors around not realising I could do myself an injury. It does happen. Using hammers and chisels, injuring your fingers, all that goes on. You have to be wary."

Reaching the last four was his latest strong showing at the Grand Slam, an event run by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) that also features the cream of the throwers from the BDO. Waites's 2010 victory is the only time a BDO player has lifted the trophy in its seven-year history.

But success in a PDC event leaves Waites facing more questions about a switch across the darting divide. Questions he is "fed up" of answering.

"Everywhere I go, I get asked: 'Why don't you join the PDC?'," said Waites, who would have earned double the prize money had he won the PDC version of the world championship. "Don't get me wrong, if you want to earn money, the PDC is where it is - it's more glamorous than the BDO.

"But I still like playing for Yorkshire and England. When that comes to an end, you never know, I might have a go in the PDC. If our televised competitions on the BBC and everywhere else come to an end, I might be forced to move."

To describe Waites as relaxed would be tantamount to describing a darts crowd as a little rowdy.

"Maybe being relaxed makes me a better player," he said. "I don't worry too much and, because I don't treat it really serious, it's still a game. If you get up there and enjoy, success will follow.

"If you're trying too hard, thinking of the money and everything else, then there's a lot of pressure on your shoulders.

"The money hasn't really bothered me. Don't get me wrong, winning a big tournament is nice, but I don't get paid for going out on a Monday or Thursday to play in the leagues. I do it for the love of playing darts."

There is, though, one challenge that can ruffle the almost horizontally laid-back Waites. His father.

"He's on at me, telling me where I've gone wrong and what I've done right," said Waites.

"After I lost the Grand Slam semi-final, he made me watch that twice. I was saying: 'I don't want to watch it, I know what happens, I lose.'

"He's saying: 'Why don't you hit that double there? Where's that first dart gone?' It's not like I miss on purpose!

"He still watches last year's Lakeside final once a week. He can't complain at me so much for that game."

That victory has given Waites the chance to join an exclusive club. Only Eric Bristow and Raymond van Barneveld, two of the game's greats, have retained the BDO world title the year after winning their first.

Surely that would be enough to keep his dad happy?

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