Lockdown Turner-Round

Red Dragon Darts

WITH Martyn Turner’s decent Lakeside run we thought we’d remind you of this interview from Summer 2023 when Thomas caught up with The Mutts Nutts:

“The Seniors tour was the main thing that helped me back into the game”

The path to darting achievement is rarely a smooth one. From Michael van Gerwen to Peter Wright, the game’s top stars have rarely followed a linear track of development without a few bumps along the way.

For more evidence of this, look no further than York-based arrowsmith Martyn Turner.

Those who followed the game in the late noughties are likely to have come across Turner’s name.

Ever-present on the PDC circuit, the period represented a high watermark for Martyn, who started out in county and SuperLeague darts before later making the transition to the BDO.

Even that time was one which provided challenges for ‘The Mutts Nutts’.

“Things started to click around 2006, when I got to the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open,” he explained. “It was tough at that time though, because the returns weren’t very good even for the long days of playing.”

“That particular event was also supposed to be live on Setanta, but the stream went down before my quarter-finals.”

Whilst the PDC Tour now presents a treasure trove of opportunities for those looking to make the move, Turner’s spell on that circuit also proved laboursome and energy-sapping.

“It was difficult to get on to the PDC circuit at that time, because there just weren’t as many events. Originally, I started with the UK Open qualifiers, and after a few good performances there I could get a bit more of a footing in the tour.”

He continued: “There were few of the big players I didn’t play around that time and it was all useful experience, even if it was a bit of a baptism of fire. But I also found it very difficult. I was trying to fit it all around my work and it was a lot of travelling.”

“I have also always suffered with anxiety and in the end it contributed to making it quite an unenjoyable experience.”

Turner’s time on the oche was also soon to collide with a change in life circumstances, as he describes.

“I was made redundant from the company I had worked in for 17 years and after that I started to work on a lot of Saturdays. Because of that, darts just sat on the backburner.”

What ensued was a period of close to a decade where Turner largely packed the darts away, his time in the eye of the PDC storm a distant memory.

For a man who had clearly not enjoyed much fortune in his darts career to date, what was an otherwise dreadful time would reignite an old passion.

As Covid hit, another turn in the 53-year-old’s life would leave the arraz beckoning.

“Over lockdown, I started thinking about darts a lot. I was in a relationship which ended just after lockdown began and so I was on my own,” he outlined.

“I re-assessed my life and considered what I wanted to do and was good at. I felt like I hadn’t achieved everything I could in darts and so I was encouraged to go back.”

And whilst the nature of the tour in the late noughties may well have disenthused Martyn, it was a time of many new horizons in the game.

“The Seniors tour was the main thing that helped me back into the game.”

“Originally, like a lot of people, I was thinking it would just be something for the older guys. But once I started playing I realised how high the standard was.

“So many of the players there were playing better than they ever had before. The events gave me more of a focus.”

Soon followed a return to the WDF, which Martyn admits was somewhat “accidental”. Either way, a strong performance in his opening events at Selsey in late 2021 provided a spark for future achievements, even if more turbulence was ahead.

“Last year was a bit up and down. My mother was unwell at one point and so I had to take some time out of the game. It has also been difficult to fund events and commit to playing a lot of the tour, so it was quite testing overall.”

Significantly for Martyn, his successes on the revived WDF circuit granted him a maiden appearance at the Lakeside. And even if he will have to wait until December to experience it, it is clear that it represents a lot for him.

“The Lakeside qualification is massive, even if it has been frustrating that it has been delayed. I have just decided to use the extra time to practice a lot more, and the Modus events have been massive in giving some stage experience.”
After securing his spot, another major milestone was to come. Earlier this year, he won his first WDF event in the Isle of Man, a victory which came a little by surprise.

“A lot of people had been telling me for a while that I had an open win in me, but I had kind of just shrugged it off. I felt really confident in the Isle of Man though and everything just clicked into place. The nerves really fell away and it helped me over the line.”

Someone who was keen to laud Turner’s accolade on social media was his friend and fellow player Darren Johnson, who has become a close support for Turner on his return to the tour.

Given both’s excellent set of results of late, it seems to be having a positive impact.

“Darren has been a great help to me. We had been on the tour together for 20 years but never really been close.”

“He has supported me a lot, and because he spent so long touring with Dennis Priestley back in the day, he has been able to pass on a lot of the wisdom he learned from Dennis. Our friendship has made getting back on the tour a lot more enjoyable and stress free.”

Now at number 14 on the WDF rankings, he has since also picked up a second WDF crown at the Welsh Open.

With a Lakeside appearance to look forward to in December, and a One80 sponsorship behind him, there is much to be delighted about.

But despite this, Martyn remains grounded. For a man who has experienced his fair share of trials and tribulations in the sport, it is perhaps no wonder.

“I really want to go and not just turn up, but be competitive. I have to believe I have got as good a chance as anyone to win the title.”

“The rest of the year for me is really about gaining experience. I also would like to climb further up the Seniors ladder, and if I could, qualify for the Matchplay in September. It is in my city, York, and it would mean a lot to be able to play in front of a home crowd.”


Images: L Lustig PDC

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