Chris Dobey would pay his father Gordon through Q School to help him achieve a family darting dream

Gordon and Chris Dobey (Picture: Davie Anderson)

Whether it’s due to nature or nurture, sporting talent is perceived to run in the family, so it never comes as great surprise when a son attempts to follow their father’s footsteps in pursuit of excellence – with varying degrees of success.

But in the case of Chris Dobey and his father Gordon, this incredible darting duo could be about to bring a whole new perspective to the phrase ‘Like Father, Like Son.’

The conventional way, of course, is not guaranteed to pay off despite the supposed advantages such as genetics and effectively having a world class coach under your own roof.

However, while some have faced almost impossible legacies to live up to before they even began or just struggled with the hype, others are able to meet expectations or even set new boundaries for future descendants to break.

For every Nigel Clough, Jordi Cruyff, Darren Ferguson, Liam Botham and Nelson Piquet Jr, there’s a Floyd Mayweather, Damon Hill, Stuart Broad, Frank Lampard and Erling Haaland – to name just a handful.

Then there are the sibling rivalries who spurred each other to greatness from the Williams sisters, Brownlee brothers and the Bryan twins, to the Klitschkos, Charltons, Waughs and the Murrays.

But as far as the world of darts is concerned, the list of sporting families at the highest level is relatively short, particularly in the case of sons attempting to emulate their fathers.

Ryan Harrington clearly has the biggest star to chase of all the sons on the circuit but it was Arron Monk who became the first son to follow his father into a PDC World Championship when qualifying for the 2012 edition shortly after dad Colin had retired, and 12 months later Richie George achieved the same feat in the BDO version.

Although no others have done that, Belgian brothers Kim and Ronny Huybrechts incredibly became the first siblings to play each other on the Ally Pally stage at that same 2012 PDC worlds.

By then, the Monks had already created history in a way that would be almost inconceivable in most other sports by qualifying to play in the same edition of a major tournament – the 2010 and 2011 UK Opens – while there was also enough time during the overlapping of their respective careers for them to play each other twice in floor events away from the TV cameras.

In theory, you’d think a sport like darts where the age range between players is so wide – especially in today’s world of rising youngsters mixing it with incredible dedicated veterans who continue to roll back the years – would be prime for throwing up more scenarios of fathers and sons vying for family bragging rights in professional competition.

And time is still just about on the Dobeys’ side if rising star son Chris can convince his 57-year-old dad to finally do what the whole of the North East darting scene have been telling him to for decades.

Major winner and commentator Paul Nicholson, who hails from the same darting hotbed north east, recently branded Gordon the best player never to turn pro in one of his recent Sporting Life columns, while Middlesbrough legend Glen Durrant has echoed the same sentiment and Gary Anderson also spoke highly of him - and his brother Arthur - when recounting how he used to play with both many years before becoming Chris’ mentor at Tommy Gilmour’s Dunvegan Enterprises in 2016.

And having witnessed at the closest of hands what his father can do, the 29-year-old from Bedlington insists such high praise is not without foundation.

Scroll down to read the full interview

Dobey, who is currently ranked 21 in the world and reached two major semi-finals last year, told Sporting Life Darts: "When he’s on his game, he’s unbelievable. He’s not only won a lot of local competitions but also hit quite a few nine-darters and he’s just one of those naturally talented players who doesn’t really need to practice too hard."

At 57, Dobey senior is the same age as BDO world champion Wayne Warren, who only really burst back onto the scene as a serious contender for top honours in the past few seasons, while the likes of Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, Glen Durrant and Ian White are just four of many PDC stars who prove age is no barrier if you have the talent.

Chris Dobey said: "I still think he could cut it and although he did lose some of his spark due to a lack of practice in recent years, this current situation of lockdown has allowed him to pick his darts up a bit more now and it’s not taken him long to get back on it.

"I really want to see him try his luck at Q School so hopefully one day I’ll get him there and see how it goes.

"I’d love for us to both be playing in the PDC and I’d definitely help him out with anything that he needs – practically or financially. I’ve already said I’d pay for the Q School entrance fee, it’s just getting him there that’s the hardest part!”

Now for those who already know why Gordon never turned professional, the fitting nature of this wonderful gesture won’t be lost on you.

Throughout the 1990s and turn of the Millennium, Gordon decided that the best way to support is young family in Northumberland was to keep working his way up as a foreman on a building site rather than risk chasing his dreams in a sport which had yet to reach its financial boom.

Dobey said: "I do think he regrets not turning full-time professional in a way, but he did have a family to provide for and at the time he thought that was the right thing to do.

"My dad wouldn’t had the financial backing that there is today, when people throw money around, left, right and centre. But if there had been more financial security back then to play full-time, then he’d have definitely done it.

"He’d have got the full treatment of sponsorship and having all expenses paid to take a lot of worries away but in that era his job guaranteed him money to support his young family, which obviously came first."

It’s widely accepted that many younger generations of famous sporting families have felt a sense of pressure - whether that’s inside the home or outside - to follow the path of their parents and while some have managed to raise the bar to greater levels, many have fallen short.

However, in the case of the Dobeys, it's remarkable to think that despite all those years of Gordon coming home with local trophies, it was actually Chris’ mother who introduced him to the sport at the age of 20 - by complete chance during a trip to a Bingo night in 2010.

Scroll down for more

He said: "There was always a dart board in my house, obviously, but apart from attempting to reach treble three as a very young boy, I wasn’t interested in it one bit! I was more into my football.

"Then during that trip to the Bingo with my mum, a friend of mine was one short for his darts team and asked me to help out. I was pretty good, so it then took off from there.

"My father had never once tried to pressure me into darts – he’d never force me to do anything and when I did start to play, he just wanted me to enjoy it for myself."

If that doesn’t give late starters hope in an era of insanely good youngsters who have been playing the game since being kids, nothing will.

After discovering his talents for the game unexpectedly, it didn’t take Dobey long to compete with his father and uncle in local competition prior to his relatively swift rise into the PDC ranks by 2015.

"I could play anyone and not care who it is," he said. "But in local competitions when I come up against my dad, it’s not nice!

"We've played each other many times in semi-finals and finals and shared the prize money whatever happened. I think there’s only been a couple of occasions when we had to play in the early rounds – including one of the last events he entered in a Gold Cup singles qualifier about 2014.

"There were so many entries but out of everyone, we were drawn out of the hat to face each other in the only preliminary match and a huge roar went up! To make matters worse, he beat me 3-0 so I didn’t even make the first round proper – although he managed to go on and qualify for the main event, which was staged at the Lakeside."

For a father who didn’t pursue his own dream for the sake of his family, it must have been like hitting the jackpot to suddenly have a world beating son in the house without even trying to influence him.

Scroll down for more

Dobey added: "When I first started winning tournaments it was good for him in a way because that was the challenge he needed. He used to play with my uncle Arthur, who didn’t win much compared to my dad, but I think the standard I reached brought their own games on an extra level. Even Arthur started winning things!

"I played in two doubles events with my dad and won them both which isn’t bad going but the toughest was the Berwick Pairs event, where we beat Ryan Hogarth and Callan Rydz in the final. Along the way my dad had to beat Arthur and his partner too!

"There were too many trophies to keep hold of but I’ve still got the ones that meant the most, such as memorial trophies that we played for in memory of family friends who passed away."

Despite being a proud father, Gordon doesn’t actually follow his son around the country at all the big televised events that he regularly qualifies for now due to his lofty ranking rise.

He said: "My dad comes to watch now and again but he gets more nervous than I do to be fair! Most times he’d rather watch me play in front of the television so he can shout at it without putting me off!"

"One of the first matches I played against Gary after he became my mentor was also one of the first times my dad came to watch me at a televised event so they had a bit of craic about the old days when they used to face each other.

"They had a few battles in the past so they really enjoyed catching up after so many years."

While it would be quite some fairytale for both Dobeys to be on the PDC circuit, Chris wouldn’t be shocked if more sons emulate their fathers the traditional way in future.

He said: "It’s a surprise you don’t see more examples at the highest level. There’s many youngsters who play with their parents in local leagues but taking it to the next step is so difficult, especially with the amount of time you’d both need to commit to it.

"If you do, then it’s possible so hopefully one day I’ll get him to Q School. I believe he’s good enough if he puts enough practice in and maybe one day we’ll be the first father and son to play each other in a televised competition.”

Indeed, that would be something not even the history-making Monks managed to achieve.

However, even if Gordon attempts Q School and succeeds next year, they might not actually be the only father and son on the circuit next year.

John Brown, 20, will surely give it another crack after missing out in January when his 39-year-old dad Steve came through it to regain his card while Michael Smith’s best man – Eddie Dootson, who came through Q School in 2018 – and his son Daniel may go for it too.

Nevertheless, it’s only a matter of time before more children of current stars grow up inspired about the heights darts has soared to, regarding it as a lucrative career choice that previous generations would never have thought possible.

With nature and nurture in their armoury, why not aim for the double top.

Related Darts Content

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read