Ian White calls for young guns to step up after COVID to enhance the Stoke darts scene.

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IAN White believes COVID has certainly hindered young darts players but when the pandemic settles, it’s a huge opportunity for future stars to step up and take Andy Hamilton and Adrian Lewis out of the limelight in Stoke-on-Trent.

The 50-year-old has returned to form in the last few months after finding his feet since the return of darts when lockdown restrictions were eased. ‘Diamond’ managed to make his way into the world’s top 10 but admits it’s been an “Up and down year of darts.”

White said: “The amount of people in Stoke who love to play darts is still there, families love playing it. It is still there, it’s just that the people haven’t come through. I think over the next year or two, we will probably see less people come through because of COVID.

“Hopefully, the young’uns can come through and take me, Andy (Hamilton) and Adey (Adrian Lewis) out of the equation. It would be nice to see some younger players coming through but we just have to wait and see what happens with COVID and how things turn out.”

Small exhibitions are often held at the Gala Bingo in Fenton, but it has been over 25 years since the last competitive tournament was held in Stoke-on-Trent. White was quick to point out the lack of venues in Stoke that would be able to accommodate for the capacity of darts fans that there are nowadays.

He said: “I think it would be nice to have a few events in Stoke but it’s an old city and at the end of the day, I don’t think there are any venues that will be able to hold the amount of fans that watch the darts.

“When the Premier League first started, it was in the Kings Hall and now you couldn’t even hold it in there, there are that many fans now so they are having to go to the big venues to give everyone a chance of getting a ticket.

“It’s a massive sport now. The PDC and Barry Hearn have done a cracking job to get it where it is today. I think when Phil (Taylor) retired, it had a big impact on the darts scene in Stoke but it would be a great investment for darts to return to the city.”

Despite an overall poor Grand Slam for Ian White, he returns to action in the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals this weekend, looking to end the year of darts on a high as only two major tournaments remain in 2020.

‘The Diamond’ said: “I feel good, I am glad the tournaments are going ahead. I am currently isolating in my hotel room and waiting on my test results and as soon as they come back, I can get back on that practice board.

“I played well, apart from one, at the Grand Slam, but I am enjoying it at the moment, I feel as if my game is getting better all the time and we all enjoy this tournament because it’s the one before the World Championships.” 

White’s colleague and 16 time World Champion, Phil Taylor retired from the sport at age 57, White recently hitting 50 understood why ‘The Power’ packed it in but is not looking to hang up the darts shirt any time soon.

He said: “I haven’t thought about it, I feel 18, I don’t know why you’re saying I’m 50. Really, I just want to keep going as long as I can, I’ve been in the top 16 for the last six/seven years and I’ve just come into the top 10 which is good for me.

“I think I will just keep going until your body can’t take it. Phil stopped because he was getting tired of all the travelling and it does get to you but as long as you can keep playing, you just have to look at Steve Beaton, he’s getting on but he still enjoys it and that’s the main thing.”

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