Fresh from his first major title at the Masters, Jonny Clayton joined The Darts Show Podcast to discuss his future plans, whether he will continue with his career as a plasterer, and the prospect of playing in the Premier League in 2021.
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 03/02/21 3:49pm
Jonny Clayton was beaming after his first major singles title in the PDC, and who could blame him?
This whole ‘professional darts’ thing doesn’t seem so tough, certainly not for Clayton. The Welshman has enjoyed a stellar few months in the PDC, while balancing his career as a plasterer for Carmarthenshire Council.
The Ferret, alongside Gerwyn Price, won the World Cup of Darts for Wales in November. And he backed it up last weekend, winning his first individual major title in style with a stunning run at the Masters.
In the process, he scooped the final Premier League place for 2021, where he will compete with the world’s elite in the Thursday-night tournament.
Not bad for a part-timer.
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But Clayton is faced with a big decision, whether or not to commit to darts full-time and quit his job. It has worked for others in the recent past, like three-time BDO champ Glen Durrant, who gave up his role as a housing manager when he won his PDC tour card. ‘Duzza’ has gone on to win a Premier League title, and has climbed to 13th in the PDC Order of Merit.
“I genuinely don’t know,” Clayton told The Darts Show Podcast, when asked if he would be quitting his job in light of his heroics at the Masters.
“There’s nothing broke, so why should I try to fix it? I’ve always played darts as a hobby, and I’ve always worked. So it’s a big decision.
“I don’t know. Yes, I’d have more time to practice. But will it make that difference? I quite enjoy working, so I genuinely don’t know how to answer that question.
“It is quite hard. Obviously I’ve got to take my time off work and things like that. But it is what it’s going to be. I might finish work, I might not.”
“There’s nothing broke, so why should I try to fix it? I’ve always played darts as a hobby, and I’ve always worked.
Clayton doesn’t feel a full-time job is a handicap
A breakthrough moment
Clayton’s run at Milton Keynes last weekend was nothing short of remarkable.
The Welshman was forced to do things the hard way, beating Jose de Sousa, Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and Peter Wright in last-leg deciders to reach the final. There he overcame Mervyn King to seal the title and £60,000 winner’s cheque.
“I feel absolutely brilliant; my first major and a place in the Premier League. I’m over the moon,” he said.
“As the tournament went on, I just felt really good. My nerves, they calmed. I just felt really good, and I started to believe. I beat Michael again, for the second [consecutive] year, and I thought, ‘I can actually do this. If I put my head together, I can do this’.
“It was a right tough route. But in darts, that’s what you’re going to get when you play with the best 24 players in the world.
“The World Cup just before Christmas was awesome, but to win an individual title, it’s mind-blowing to be honest. The Premier League to go with it was awesome. That’s everybody’s dream as well as a darts player. So two eggs in one basket? Class!”
Joining the big boys
The bright lights of the Premier League await.
Unbeknownst to Clayton and King, it was announced beforehand that the winner of the Masters final would clinch the 10th place in this year’s tournament.
“We weren’t told there was a Premier League spot,” Clayton explained. “But the talk in the practice room was if it wasn’t a Peter Wright or Gerwyn Price that was going to win, there’s a chance for everybody else.
“The talk was about the Premier League spot. But we weren’t told that it actually was for a Premier League spot. So I didn’t know when I played the final. So it was a shock on stage [when I was told], but I was kind of hoping that that was the outcome.
“I’ve got the chance of a lifetime with the Premier League, I don’t want to go up there, lose every match and make a fool of myself. I’m going have to put my head into a practice board and try my very hardest. So my mind will have to change. So let’s see.”
All in all, it has not been a bad few months for Welsh darts, when you throw Price’s World Championship title into the mix. And the Ferret is hoping that they’re only getting started:
“It’s obviously nice for Welsh darts. I don’t know if it’s our turn maybe – the Dutch have had their run, the English have had their run. Scotland with Gary Anderson and Peter. Is it maybe the Welsh time? I hope it is for a long time!”
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