A sports-mad Belper man with a keen mathematics brain is currently enjoying a second career as a marker in one of the world’s fastest growing sports.
Andy Shaw took to darts marking after realising it would combine his talent for maths with his obsession with sport.
But so successful has he been with it that he now regularly rubs shoulders with players like 16-time world-champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor.
Andy, 48, said: “I was just sat at the laptop one day thinking what am I good at and what do I like doing.
“I thought I have always been good at maths from when I used to mark for my dad and I have always loved sport so this was a way to combine the two.”
Since starting in the sport four years ago, Andy believes he has gained the respect of the players he works with but admits it can be a cut-throat and high pressure environment.
He says that for some of the tournaments he marks at, the winners will get £10,000 and even the losing finalist gets £6,000.
“There is lots of pressure when the top players are there - they don’t like it if mistakes are made.
“Some of the markers can do the maths but when players like Phil Taylor are there they just can’t handle the pressure.
“Even Phil has to qualify so it’s a serious business but away from the board most of them are fine and will have a chat to us.”
Despite the pressure, Andy says he loves what he does now as it gives him ‘the best view in the world’ of the best players on the planet.
“I marked a nine-darter recently by Michael Van Gerwen,” he says.
“After he did it I said ‘good arrows’ and he just winked at me. He must do it all the time.”
And the sport has also made him some good friends, including top professional, Jamie Caven, who runs a darts academy in Derby.
His workplace - Belper-based domestic boiler company Glow-Worm - has been ‘great’ at letting him have time off and take pride in seeing their name emblazoned on the shirts he wears while calling the scores.
In the future, Andy says he is hopeful of one day marking for a televised event, as some of his contemporaries have, but for now he is just enjoying hob-nobbing with the elite of a sport which is only getting more popular.
You can follow Andy on Twitter @ExhibitionDart.
‘Sid would be really proud...’
Belper born and bred, Andy now lives in nearby Kilburn with his partner Jude and talks fondly of ‘getting away from it all’ in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside.
Sport mad all his life, he had trials with Burton Albion at 15 and boxed with well known local fighter, John Ashton, in his youth.
Andy puts the present popularity of darts down to a group ‘visionaries’ including Phil Taylor, Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) administrator Barry Hearn and legendary commentator Sid Waddell who saw the potential the sport had when they came together in the mid-1990s.
Andy says Sid - who sadly died of cancer in 2012 - would be ‘really proud’ to see where the sport is now.
He says part of that success has been down to the marketing and promotion the PDC has done and its long-standing association with Sky Sports and other big name brands.