Raymond Smith had a Fantastic Experience

The experience was something extraordinary and exceeded all expectation.

It’s a surreal feeling having people ask you for photos and autographs, especially for me as I’ve never seen myself as more than a regular person who plays darts. I felt uncomfortable with the fanfare when I sat in the crowd to watch our Trans-Tasman counterparts play, however by the end of each session I enjoyed the company of the people I met.

Playing on the Lakeside stage was a dream. I thought I had achieved so much doing so at the Winmau, however the feeling is completely different for the World Championships. The crowd has a whole new level of energy and it’s almost as if you feel the presence of every one of your heroes standing beside you as you take the stage. All I could think about was not letting them down….which was strange for me, as I have always played for the love of the game and nothing more. I was out of my comfort zone.

I was really comfortable for the Winmau stage game, however I agree with many players before me who said you can prepare for anything, but you can’t prepare for your first game at Lakeside. (referring to the World Championships)

A few things I would recommend for all future participants.

  • Check in to the hotel a minimum of 2 days before the start of the event.
  • Check in with the BDO Organizers once you have settled in your room.
  • Ensure you have times for your media engagements / interviews.
  • Be sure to be at the venue 1 hour before the session starts.
    • All players for the session parade on stage for the crowd. This in itself is an amazing feeling.
  • Stage etiquette was something I stuffed up on both trips.
    • Walk on is standard
    • After the match be sure to shake the callers hand straight away, as they exit the stage fairly quick.
    • Stand next to the board and wait for the MC to announce you, then walk off to the players room.
  • If you win, go back to the players room for interviews. Don’t go straight out to the crowd and celebrate.

I can’t sing the praises of the players enough. It was as if I was on their team playing for a team win! Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Near the stairs of the players room is another room set up for practice that is very quiet compared to the players room. The floor isn’t that good, but a few moments of quiet before a match is unbelievably calming.

The crowd noise is a lot louder than you hear on TV. People will be cheering for and against you, though most of the crowd are very respectful.

I didn’t really notice the crowd a great deal, though you could hear them on occasions in big moments, but that was more lack of concentration than anything.

On the down side, I highly recommend being over cautious about your personal safety and security of your property.

Darts is massive in England and a lot of the fans are “fanatical” about their darts. I recommend you don’t be too eager to join in or entertain the punters.

You will be asked for your darts, stems, and flights. People will ask where you’re staying and if you would like to join them in social events. I avoided many of these scenarios though could easily be caught up in the fanfare. I was reluctant to socialise beyond the venue.

After my second match, I brought a bottle of water from the hotel bar. Unknowing to me, I was followed back to my room.

I went for a shower and got changed forgetting to lock the door. When I came out of the shower, my darts and a playing shirt were gone, with my Australian jacket lying on the floor.

Given the history I’ve had with my darts, I was gutted to lose them and more frustrated with my lax approach to securing my room.

The hotel was unable to offer any real assistance to identify who got in to my room. Fortunately I only lost somewhat replaceable items and not more.

One last piece of advice, always book an open ticket or have sufficient funds to ensure you can stay for the entire duration of the event.

Staying at the Lakeside is around AUD$118.00 per night, which is paid for the duration you are in the tournament.

I made calculations on playing $80.00 per night, thinking I could get a cheaper hotel elsewhere. Being the Lakeside, most of the Hotels close by were booked out and couldn’t find a room at the rates I had planned for.

Trying to get a flight out earlier was proving to be impossible and in the end, cost me an additional AUD$700.00. So either way I was going to be short on funds. (I had AUD$3,000.00 at 0.5682GBP = £1,704.60)

Getting to and from Lakeside from Heathrow Airport is expensive. I recommend contacting the Lakeside Hotel ahead of time and booking their taxi service. It’s £42 – £46 one way, but cheaper than any other option you will find anywhere in the UK.

In all, the Lakeside experience is something you will never forget and one I recommend doing as much as you can. Standing in front of that crowd is the most energized I have ever felt and the players make the event amazing.

The BDO and Channel 4 broadcast team were sensational throughout the event and made me feel at ease.

I may even be tempted to leave my room next time….Raymond Smith