Love the Darts: Paul Sculthorpe

By Paul Woodage 23/01/2021

IT’S no surprise to regularly see sporting personalities and celebrities at the darts. You will often spot some very famous faces in the crowd, including Prince Harry! In the world of rugby league, Paul Sculthorpe is royalty.

The highly-decorated Lancashire legend has won everything in the game and been awarded an MBE for his services to rugby league and charity work. Scully began his career in 1994 at Warrington but it was at St Helens he made a huge name for himself. In a glittering career spanning over a decade, he won multiple league and cup honours. To this day Sculthorpe remains the only man to have won back-to-back ‘Man of Steel’ awards which recognises the Rugby League Player of the Year. In 2013, Paul Sculthorpe was honoured by the Queen and received an MBE.

His continuing proud work for the Steve Prescott Foundation is well documented. The charity was set up in 2007 by the former rugby player who sadly lost his life following pioneering transplant surgery to cure cancer.  Many well-known darting personalities have all participated in fundraising events for the foundation including Wayne Mardle, Bobby George, Rod Studd, James Wade, Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall. There has always been a close connection between the two sports and Sculthorpe has always been a fan of the arrows.

Paul admitted: “My interest in darts began when I was as a kid. Always watched darts with my mum and dad from an age back in the Bristow, Lowe, and JockyWilson days.

“I enjoy watching the darts on TV. I’ve been to quite a few of the Premier League nights, Ally Pally and the Winter Gardens. Stuart Pyke is a good friend and has often looked after me for tickets. Loads of the rugby lads love a night at the darts, Sean Long, Martin Gleeson, Jon Wilkin and Paul Wellens to name a few. “A number of us had one great night in Manchester backstage with all the darters which included the late great Wigan player Terry Newton.

“I’m also good friends with Dion Dublin who is another massive darts fan. I went along with him and a load of mates to the World Championships last year at Ally Pally. “There is a board in my local so I often have a game with the lads when I go in there. If there is a group of us we usually end up playing killer. When I was at Saints we had a dartboard up in the training ground so after our session we would regularly have a few games and competitions amongst us. I won now and again!

“I’m a fan of most sports, it’s the competitive edge of being a professional. Love golf too and play a fair bit. “Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price are great to watch at the moment. There is a massive connection to St Helens with darts so I like to see Stephen Bunting, Dave Chisnall, Alan Tabern and Michael Smith do well.” It’s no coincidence that darts players are often very good at other sports. There are many qualities both mentally and physically that are necessary to excel. Strength of mind is always highlighted as a vital factor to success and never tested more so than this year.

He added: “Many professional sports people have good hand eye coordination so can cross sports. A lot of rugby lads are good golfers because of this as they have precise movement skills. Gerwyn Price has taken it to the next level though. I am very keen on boxing and have had a few bouts since retiring from rugby. “Even today I am extremely competitive whatever I play. It’s just part of the person I am and the life I’ve always lived throughout my rugby career. I play the odd charity game and still want to win every time I step on the field. “Mental strength is very important, more so more than ever in this difficult world we live with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“My brother is a huge advocate of this and currently works within the NHS along with the State of Mind Foundation promoting mental health and well-being and the importance of opening up if struggling. “He always says prevention is better than cure. It’s a difficult time for many people right now, and I believe exercise too is so important for both the body and mind. It’s so frustrating to see the closure of all gyms and golf courses, places that can be safely used, but also have major effects on people’s health and well-being. You can walk around a golf course with a dog but not a club! “I appreciate there are people who take advantage of the rules but for a lot, golf is an escape. If done safely, closure of the clubhouse, online bookings, non-use of buggies, same household it can be done safely I’ve no doubts.

“Being away from home for long periods can be difficult mentally for professional sportspeople, I’m sure the darters will back me up here ..especially those with young families. “I played internationals for 10 years with Great Britain, touring the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea for weeks on end. However, they were great times and something I’d do all over again, and I am thankful I had such a supporting family.”

With just the big one left to go it looks like the World Championships will sadly be played behind closed doors. But it won’t stop millions, including Scully, from tuning in.

------ENDS------

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