By Alex Moss
11 NOVEMBER 2016 • 7:01PM
Wolverhampton expects, and so does Jamie Hughes.
Ahead of making his debut in what he calls his home tournament, Hughes was yesterday expecting the birth of his second child.
The 30-year-old, lives in Tipton, a mere six miles away from the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, the venue for the 10th staging of the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts, which starts tomorrow.
And for Hughes, who qualified as one of the top four ranked players in the BDO not already in the tournament, it is an occasion which he can’t wait to experience.
“It’s my home tournament so I should have a lot of support there,” he said.
“I’ve been up there and watched it a couple of times as well, so it’ll be a bit special to be going up there myself this time.”
Hughes has arguably the toughest draw of the eight BDO players in the cross-code tournament, with James Wade, Dave Chisnall and James Wilson joining him in Group G.
“It’s very tough,” the former World Masters finalist said.
“James Wade and Dave Chisnall are two Premier League regulars from the last few years, and I’ve also got probably one of the most in-form players in James Wilson, so it’s going to be tough.
“I’ve played Wilson a few times before, but I’ve never played Chisnall or Wade, so that’ll be something new.”
The best of nine leg format for the group stages of the Grand Slam is one of the shortest formats which the PDC players experience on the circuit, while for the likes of Hughes and his BDO players, he is used to even shorter formats.
“The shorter format puts it a bit more in my favour I think,” he said.
“The PDC players will be used to playing over a lot longer format.
“I suppose ranking wise you’ve got most of the top eight in the BDO there so it’s one of the best groups of players the BDO have taken there.”
Since helping England win the WDF Europe Cup team event in late September, the build up to Hughes’ Grand Slam debut has been a quiet one on the oche.
Aside from a trip to Turkey at the end of last month, which saw him lose out in the final of the Turkish Open to Martin Phillips in a deciding leg, Hughes has had his focus elsewhere.
“It’s been quite quiet to be honest,” he said. “I went to Turkey, that was the last one I went into, two weeks ago.
“I’d of preferred to be busier because it keeps your arm sharp you know.
“It is what it is. I haven’t been able to do much because my partner has been pregnant, so it’s all good preparation for the Grand Slam!
“It’ll be nice to have it off my mind but whatever happens happens. I’ll just deal with whatever happens.
“I’ve got a seven-year-old girl. I wasn’t on the circuit or anything back then (when she was born), so it didn’t really affect me. I was just a county player then.”
The Grand Slam this weekend marks the start of an important couple of months for a lot of players, including those of BDO persuasion.
At the start of December, Hughes heads to Lakeside for the Winmau World Masters, before heading out for the Finder Darts Masters and then after Christmas, back to Lakeside for the World Championship in early January.
“It’s the Masters and then Finder Masters just after that,” he said.
“And then it’ll be Lakeside. It’ll be nice to have good runs in all the tournaments again.
“I never go into a tournament thinking I’m going to win it because that’s a bit of an arrogant attitude, and you’re disrespecting the other players.
“It would be great to have some good runs again, but I don’t think you can look that far ahead.
“It’s disrespectful to the other players thinking that you can just beat them all.
“I think that’s when it can come back and bite you and you can lose a bit of an edge on your game as well.
“I played well in Turkey, so hopefully I can carry it on.
“It’s all on the day though, so we’ll see what happens.”
If Hughes is to have a prolonged debut year in the Grand Slam, then he will not have to travel far to get back home.
“I’m only like six, seven or eight miles away,” he said. “So it’s a £10 taxi.”