Just 14 months ago Nathan Aspinall had only £20 in the bank and was ready to quit the game. But after two World Championship semi-finals plus UK Open and World Series titles, Aspinall can definitely look on the ‘Brightside’ after his meteoric rise to the top of the arrows.
The Asp takes on Michael van Gerwen in the big clash of this Thursday night’s PDC Premier League in Cardiff. However Aspinall doesn’t forget struggling to afford any Christmas presents for his young daughters.
Speaking exclusively to Phil Lanning for Colossus, Aspinall added: “It’s well known that I was struggling financially just over a year ago and, going into the world championship, I would have settled for winning a couple of games and giving a good account of myself.”
“To reach the semi-final was beyond my wildest dreams – but it happened, I’ve built on it and I don’t have to worry now about where the next meal is coming from. In September 2019, I was down to my last £20. That’s all I had to my name.”
“I’m not going to lie: It was a big worry. I have two daughters, aged eight and two, and I was going into games thinking, ‘If I hit this double, I win £1,000 and that pays a month’s rent.’ That’s how bad it was.”
“I had quit my job but I wasn’t performing well, I wasn’t getting results – and three months later I had a hundred grand in the bank, which changed my whole mindset. I was no longer playing for money – I was playing for titles and ranking points.”
“I always knew I could play darts, and make money from it, but when you are effectively playing for the survival of your family there’s so much pressure. I remember it clearly: I had £21.98 in the bank and I wanted to use a cash machine in a Holiday Inn hotel which charged £1.99 to make a cash withdrawal. A mate transferred a penny into my account so I could withdraw £20 – I went to the tournament and won £10,000.”
“At that stage, I was thinking of going back to work as a trainee accountant and even that darts wasn’t a road I should be going down. But it changed at the Ally Pally in 2019 when I was 2-0 down against Gezzy Price and 2-0 down in the third set, on the brink of being knocked out, but I nicked that set and the crowd started getting on Gezzy’s back and singing my name.”
“All of a sudden I had the crowd on my side, playing in front of millions on telly, and when I went on to win, I knew this was what I want to do. When it got to the stage where I was guaranteed £35,000 in prize money, I thought, ‘Jeez, that’s a year’s salary’ – and when I got to the semi, and it was up to £100,000, it took 24 hours to sink in what it meant: I was sat with my other half, just staring in disbelief and saying, ‘I’ve won a hundred grand…'”
“That’s when it hit me that my life had changed. When I got home, I went out in Stockport on New Year’s Eve – as you do – and the DJ in one of the clubs stopped the music and announced, ‘We’ve got a special guest in tonight’ and played my walk-on song (Mr Brightside by the Killers).”
“Everyone was jumping on me and it was like, wow – I’m not just another kid from Stockport any more. And winning the UK Open a couple of months later was another dream.”
After the Worlds, UK Open and a World Series success in Vegas, Aspinall now knows he’s a target this year in the Unibet Premier League and beyond.
He added: “Everyone seems to be upping their game against me – I’m averaging 103, 104 most weeks and still getting beat sometimes. But I guess you have to take that as a compliment if opponents have to play at that level to beat me. It drives me mad, but it’s a compliment.”
Love the darts? Then you’ll love our huge £20,000 Premier League pools which you can find by clicking here.