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Steve Brown opens up on “emotional” Qualifying School success

Jamie Shaw in Darts Interviews 28 Jan 2020
Brown celebrates during the 2013 World Championship (Photo by Sean Dempsey/PA Archive/PA Images)

Steve Brown has revealed the emotional turmoil he endured after regaining a Tour Card in nail-biting fashion following a last-gasp decision to enter Qualifying School.

Brown, 39, initially gained a Tour Card in 2011 before dropping off the circuit four years later, but turned back the clock in style with a fairy-tale success at the recent UK Q School.

Brown had wound down his professional career after taking up the role as Chairman of the Junior Darts Corporation, but a late offer from a sponsor saw him head to Wigan to compete alongside his son John.

Brown, who reached the Last 16 of the World Matchplay a decade ago, made a flying start at Q School, registering ten points from the opening two events to move joint top of the Order of Merit at the halfway stage.

However, a pre-arranged JDC commitment in China meant that Brown was unable to attend Day Four and was left with an agonising wait to see if ten points would be sufficient after crashing out with a 5-0 whitewash on Day Three.

The Bristol ace held on to tenth spot, one point clear of the cut-off, and will now balance his JDC commitments with the relentless PDC schedule as he looks to scale the heights once again.

“It’s been a whirlwind two weeks,” Brown told Live Darts.

“I didn’t expect to go to Q School, the deadline was two o’clock and I registered at one, so that was a last-minute decision.

“My son was struggling for transport to get up to Q School, he’d just signed a new sponsorship deal with Bristol & Bath Scaffolding so I took him down to meet the guy and he said “why aren’t you doing Q School?” and I said “I can’t be bothered”.”

“He said “If I pay your entry would you do it?” and I said “yeah go on then” so I signed up for it at the last-minute and went up there with John [son] and my friend Phil.

“The first day I walked in, it was just the sheer amount of people there. Had someone not paid for me to go, I think I would have got on my toes and turned round and gone home.

“With over 500 people there, I didn’t think I had much of a chance to be honest.”

Brown was due to fly to Shanghai following Day Three of Q School and as his efforts to reschedule the trip were knocked back, ‘The Bristol Bomber’ was faced with an agonising wait upon his arrival.

He explained: “I had a flight booked for Saturday evening to go and meet the mayor of Shanghai, which is no small thing.

“The JDC is my priority, I only went to Q School because I thought if I play two days, I can play on the Challenge Tour for a bit of fun.

“I didn’t expect to be in the top ten, let alone the top three, so it was a bit of a dilemma.

“If I had to make the decision myself, there would only be one winner and that would be the JDC, but I did make a call to China just before I played on Saturday morning saying I might have to catch a flight on Sunday or Monday “is that ok?” and the answer was an emphatic “no”.

“I had to play on the Saturday and to be honest I’d have been better off not playing because my head was all over the place.

“I lost 5-0 and that leg difference could have cost me.

“Lots of friends were sending me photographs of different pieces of paper trying to work things out for me.

“I didn’t expect a Tour Card in the first place, but as the hours whittled down, it was 1am in China and I was trying to stay awake just to see if I’d got the Tour Card or not.

“When the news came through, I’ve got to be honest, it was quite emotional.”

Brown previously plied his trade as a plasterer but quit the job at the beginning of the year and is now fully focused on developing the sport at grass roots level and leading by example on the oche.

He added: “I made the decision at the beginning of January that I was going to be full-time JDC Chairman so my days of plastering are over.

“Everything seems to have fit into place and ironically I think the time is probably right for me.

“I did struggle for two or three years with injury, I still played through it and embarrassed myself in some situations, it was just the love of the game really, I couldn’t put them down.

“Over the last six months, I’ve been going to tournaments and playing pros in exhibitions and beating most of them.

“Without realising it I was building up confidence I suppose but playing it down at the same time.”