Barry Hearn conducts a press conference (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Former world finalist Andy Hamilton believes joining the BDO circuit was the “right decision” but admits his burning desire is to rejoin the PDC as a Tour Card holder.
Hamilton, who was runner-up at Ally Pally in 2012, dropped off the PDC circuit in late 2017 after finishing the season outside of the world’s top 64.
The 51-year-old, who was also a runner-up in the 2007 Grand Slam and 2013 UK Open, opted out of entering Qualifying School in favour of trying his hand on the BDO circuit.
The Hammer has enjoyed a solid first season in the BDO, climbing to 34th in the world rankings and reaching the final of the Welsh Open.
Hamilton finds himself in a strong position as he bids to qualify for the World Championship, and though the future of the tournament remains uncertain due to a lack of TV broadcaster and sponsorship, the Stoke ace admits it would be a dream to compete at Lakeside.
“I’ve come into the BDO this year, I wasn’t blindfolded, it was to try and get my confidence back and the BDO gave me that chance,” Hamilton told Live Darts.
“Now I’m loving the game again and I can’t wait for the future.
“The last couple of months I’ve had good results and put me on the edge of where I could be at Lakeside but it isn’t the be all and end all for me.
“I’ve been brought up on watching Lakeside so to go and play there would be a dream come true.”
Hamilton, who spent 14 years in the PDC ranks, admits he has had to adjust to the contrasting playing conditions with the BDO but has relished the chance to gain some confidence-boosting wins.
“I remember the first BDO event I went to – the Scottish Open – there was 64 boards but 900 people,” he recalled.
“The boards were so close together so it was quite intimate and too close together sometimes but it’s something I’ve had to get used to.
“If I ever went back to the PDC I’d just realise how spoilt we were over there and how professional it is.”
The former Premier League star has had to battle through testing physical and personal problems in recent years which he says played a major role in his decision to take a step back from the cut-throat PDC circuit.
He explained: “I knew I was dropping, obviously I had personal problems and medical issues that I’ve had to get sorted out.
“That’s one of the reasons I took a year out was to get medical things sorted, I’ve had an eye operation so I’ve got new glasses and I’ve had sciatica which I’ve had injections for.
“I want to get myself right before I have another bash at it.
“Also, I wanted that spiral to stop somewhere, because if I’d have gone to Q School, I might not have got a Tour Card so I’d be even further down.
“Now I’ve picked myself back up, I’m not up to the echelons where I want to be but I’m progressing slowly.
“I love this game so much that I had to change something to make it better again.
“It was a hard decision but I can think back now and say it was the right decision.”
Alongside his playing schedule, Hamilton has also returned to work, helping out at his brother’s bakery shop in the potteries as he looks to maintain his strong work ethic.
Hamilton will be among the hundreds of hopefuls heading to Qualifying School in January in an attempt to earn a coveted two-year Tour Card, but ‘The Hammer’ is under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead.
“I’m going to go to Q School and have another bash at getting a Tour Card – I want to play in the PDC again and I want to compete again.
“The next option to a Tour Card is to do the Challenge Tour and I could still do BDO events as well as the Challenge Tour now that the ban has been lifted.
“Now I’m back at home in Stoke-on-Trent, my brother’s got a little baker shop there so I’m down there a few days a week helping him out.
“I don’t like to brag about it but my name goes a long way in the community where we are and we get a lot of trade from it.
“Getting up at five o’clock making oat cakes is hard work so I want to get back to darts – there’s money to be made and also it’s my passion, I love darts more than I love work.
“But I’m a worker by trade, I’ve done it before in my life and I’ll do it again but darts is my future,” he added.