Terry Bellew (left) with James Keogh from Meath. Both were members of the Irish legends, or Arrows, team that played againt the UK towards the end of last year.

Bellew preparing for unique Turkish experience

From very early in his life Terry Bellew knew what sport he wanted to pursue. Sure, as a young man, he enjoyed a game of Gaelic football with Wolfe Tones or run out with local soccer teams such as Torro Utd or OMP Utd but what those pursuits offered paled in comparison, you suspect, with his first love - darts.

"Darts brought me great enjoyment and great friends down the years, great people. I didn't have to run around a field to practice darts!" he told the Meath Chronicle last week as he reflected on his life in the sport and looked ahead to an upcoming tournament in Turkey in May that is taking the Meathman to a new dimension in the sport.

In Turkey he will be taking part in a tournament as one of the British and Irish Arrows (or legends) selection; a combination of darts players from both sides of the Irish Sea similar to the Lions in rugby. He will be one of what is expected to be five Irishmen in a team of 15.

He has already played for the Irish Arrows. That was last November when the 'Boys in Green' took on a UK selection in Airdrie and his performance over in the Highlands clearly didn't do his cause any harm when it came to getting called up for the tournament in Turkey.

Originally from Wilkinstown but a resident in Navan for many years, Bellew has played and won numerous tournaments in the local circuit over the years. He played in every local league, he reckons, down the decades and enjoyed his participation but this trip to Turkey is an opportunity to explore a new frontier; to perform in a different dimension.

Now 62 he has represented Meath "on and off" since he was 16, a boy playing in a world dominated by adults. He was part of Meath teams that fell short of the mark but he was also involved with Royal County selections that found the groove and pushed on to win All-Ireland titles.

He was always helped in his chosen sport by an ability to concentrate on the task in hand and fire the darts straight and true. He was also aided by an ability to glance at the dart board from time to time while playing a game and know in an instant what he needed to get with his next throw, without breaking stride. Maths was never a problem.

Down the years he has evolved his own style. Every darts player does. Over-thinking things, he found, can be more a hindrance than a help. "Concentration is important but you get to a stage where you don't get nervous and, in fact, if you concentrate too much it can mess you up. Just step up, throw the darts and get on with it. That's what I found works best," adds Bellew, a orthopedic technician by trade.

The Navan native will tell you with a laugh, he likes to hum a tune when he is playing sometimes, just as a way of relaxing although, invariably, he also has to ship considerable slagging from his colleagues. All friendly banter of course. It's just part of the craic. Mighty craic.

Over the years Bellew has met many legends of the game and had a pint with some such as the late great Jockey Wilson. He greatly admires Phil 'The Power' Taylor for the sheer magnitude of what he achieved in the sport. Eric Bristow and Leighton Rees are others Bellew always looked up to, respected. Great talents but modest men too. "Gentlemen all," he adds.

Bellew will be in training for his trip to Turkey in the coming weeks but he won't be over doing it either. "One hour a day is enough, any more you can burn yourself out," he adds.

He also says he spent many hours over the years in smokey bars playing darts but he doesn't regret a minute. "I just love the game, always have," he says again to emphasise the point.