If you’ve ever sat at your desk and thought “There’s got to be something other than this!” perhaps you could go the route of UK professional Justin Irwin and give it all up to become a professional darts player. Many years ago, the university graduate who was working as a director for a non-profit organization called Childline decided that he had made enough of a contribution to the charity world and had a desire to engage in a competitive manly pursuit of some nature. Given that he was not a pub regular not a leisure player of the game, darts seemed about the last logical conclusion one would draw. And yet, that is exactly the avenue on which he chose to venture.
The game of darts is somewhat haunted by generalizations that those who invest their time in the sport are burly, beer-drinking sorts given to frequenting their local watering holes to while away the hours tossing the missiles at the board over raucous jibes. What could possibly be the appeal of the game to a 35 year old middle class liberal minded do-gooder?
Justin claims that as a boy, he had always had a dream to become the world champion of one thing or another. Given his age and lack of qualification in other sporting arenas, he believed that the simplicity of the game of darts might be the one route that he could master at this stage of life. And so he handed in his resignation, bought a dart board and a biography of Phil Taylor and began to train himself in the skills of the game. Practicing for 2 to 4 hours a day in his own flat, his first discovery was that it actually did demand some level of fitness as the pain generated in his throwing arm intensified daily. Never mind that even through all that effort he was still unable to muster enough of a score to compete with even the bottom ranking players. He did not give up, however, until he had risen to the opportunity to compete to qualify for the Hampshire Open and other tournaments along the way.
Irwin’s story unfolds with numerous humorous viewpoints and mishaps and while he may not have achieved the desired famed status as the world champion of darts, his adventure enabled him to author a book about his pursuit entitled “Murder on the Darts Board” that reiterates his journey through smoke-filled boozy pubs as the underdog with a lighthearted narrative that makes it both entertaining and inspiring. Justin Irwin is now a familiar face amongst UK darts enthusiasts as he continues to focus on the game. Currently, he manages an online presence with a website and ongoing social media directed at everything darts related including some podcasts, articles on championship play, and even speculation on darts pubs.
His book is an interesting read for anyone considering chucking it all to follow their dream and provides a speculative roadmap on what you should or should not do in that regard.