Night out in Whitley Bay led to Geordie Paul Nicholson playing for Australia
Newcastle-born and boasting a broad north-east accent, Paul Nicholson is the quintessential Geordie – except for one thing.
Aside from winding up Phil Taylor during their heated rivalry in the early 2010s, Nicholson, AKA ‘The Asset’, is best known for representing Australia rather than England at international darts level. He was part of the jaw-dropping climax to the 2012 World Cup of Darts when, playing alongside Simon Whitlock against the England duo of Taylor and Adrian Lewis, every play on the stage in the deciding doubles missed match darts, with his birth country taking the title.
So how did this fiery Geordie end up representing a country on the other side of the world? It was actually a happy accident after being cajoled into having a night in the Tyneside town of Whitley Bay.
“Around 2003, 2004, I was working for a bank. I wasn’t very happy in life, I was sad, in fact I was quite depressed,” he recalled in the PDC’s Darts Show Podcast.
“I thought living in England didn’t suit me. I thought maybe I needed to go and see how big the world is. Around that time, one of my friends said ‘do you want to come out for a night in Whitley Bay?’ For people in the north-east, that’s usually an automatic ‘yes’. But that night, I didn’t want to go out.
“Eventually I caved and that night I met the person I would end up marrying, and she was from Australia. I think it was meant to because she had come into my Natwest branch in the previous few weeks and we struck up a conversation. Six months later, I was moving to Melbourne.
“When I’d stopped playing for Northumberland at the end of 2004, I wasn’t enjoying it. I decided to take my foot off the gas when it came to playing darts. By the time I left, I was playing just once a week.”
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Nicholson wasn’t planning anymore as embarked on a fresh start Down Under. But after impressing on his rare outings, he was encouraged to start taking the sport seriously again.
“When they see you’re pretty good, they want you to go forward, they want you to go to tournaments,” he explained. “I was fortunate to be under the tutelage of multiple clubs at the time who were being very positive. I bumped into some good players who said I should play in DPA [Australia’s Premier League] eventually.
“I went to the Australian Masters in Geelong, and it was that tournament that changed everything. It wasn’t a win that changed everything, it was a defeat.”
After collecting a host of titles in 2008 and going to the top of the DPA rankings, Nicholson secured a spot at Grand Slam of Darts, where he defeated Gary Anderson, and then played at the World Championships soon after. He promptly left the DPA to join the PDC Tour full-time.
Nicholson, now a popular commentator, decided to stop representing Australia a couple of years ago. Speaking in an interview at the start of 2020, he explained: “I listened to the commentators and when they were talking about Australian darts, they were referring to Kyle [Anderson] and Simon [Whitlock], I got the feeling I wasn’t getting the credit I deserved for what I’d done for Australian darts.
“It was tough to take that because when I came to my first Worlds and made the quarters, I thought I was starting to put Australian darts on the map. I got the feeling, with me having the wrong accent, that maybe I wasn’t embraced as an Aussie as much as I would have hoped. I am a Northumberland kid who was proud to represent Australia and now it’s time to move on.”
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