Interviewing Rob “Voltage” Cross

He’s the only player to have survived match darts in two different rounds and go on to win the World title, defeater of Phil Taylor, and winner of the World Championship on his debut, join SportsBoom’s voice of choice, Wade McElwain, as he grabs a chat with Rob “Voltage” Cross.

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2023-12-20

Louis Hobbs

6 minutes read

Gearing up to Ally Pally

“I can't wait to get there and perform,” Rob says, in anticipation of the upcoming tournament. “I took a bit of time off and then you slowly start to crank it. So this week I'm practising flat out again. I'm ready to go!”

When asked how he prepares exactly, Rob lays it out flat. “Usually I get someone to practice with me. I usually play a lot of 501 legs, because that's what we'd be playing at the Worlds. I've got a couple of people that help me out. That's pretty much what I do every day.”

But casual practice certainly isn’t on Rob’s radar…

“I usually pop out down to a place called Sidley. If I do practice at home, I don't feel like I'm working, I do it in my own leisure and sometimes the concentration ain't there. But if I give myself a four-hour window to achieve as much as I can [and] be as good as I can, and then sort of achieve and leave.”

Nothing but “pure concentration” for this champion player, though he’d jump at the chance to replicate the Ally Pally vibe in his practice sessions if he could…

“You just can't get that buzz anywhere else,” says Rob, describing how the energy of the event fuels him. “The more the crowd gives it, the more good things you do. It builds the adrenaline up and it's just such a buzz. [There’s] just an amazing sort of aura about the place.”

When asked if the party-like atmosphere is ever distracting, Rob paints a clear picture. “When you're losing you hear everything anyway. You haven't really got much choice.”

“I like to sort of get in a bubble with the game,” he continues, “so I'm hearing everything, but not distracted by it. I suppose when you're on the back foot, you feel it a little bit more, but then that's when the cream's got to rise to the top.”

Mental fortitude

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“You've got to be so mentally strong with this game,”

Rob says plainly.

“It's tough at times, it really is, but it's how you handle it. Everything's [about] concentration for me. I believe in my own ability – if I concentrate, I get up there, I get it right, I'll pull off anything.”

“Obviously I have shaken before,” he says, when asked about nerves. “I like to take my time though. I like to sort of embrace it a little bit with noises, because crowds can only get so loud. When they're at top volume, they can't get any louder, so it's just a constant noise.”

Digging into his pre-game rituals, Rob explains that “usually I give myself four hours before my game. So I have a practice, see how they're going. If I'm not happy with it, give [myself] a little bit more time on the board, try and correct a few bits.”

“I probably won't play any good for the first hour because I'll be buzzing off my head and I'll be nervous [about] being back there.”

“But I think just having a chill and if everything's going right, don't waste them. Have a sit down, go back to it regularly every 15 minutes for 10 minutes,” he continues, showing the pro mindset that “it's [about] how they're going on the day”.

As for post-match, it’s much of the same for Rob, who stays in nearby Stanmore during Ally Pally, and balances chill time with “pure concentration away from the family and [just] doing your job”.

“I love routine in my life,” he says, “especially on a dart board because it seems to help me feel more at ease, more natural. Without it, I can be a shamble.”

Superstitions, social media, and potty mouths

“I suppose I'm a little bit here and there,” Rob admits, when asked if he’s as superstitious as some players. “Whatever I've done on the first day, I try to do again on the next day, the way I've been practising. I can't think of anything out of the ordinary though.”

“I don't like people [touching] my stuff,” he adds, after more thought, before uncovering perhaps his biggest superstition – his darts of choice…

“I try and switch and I end up back with the old faithfuls [that] I've won everything with, so I suppose that's a superstition and it's in my head.”

Speaking of social media, Rob lands firmly in support of what the social platforms are doing for the sport, even if “I have someone cover mine [because] I have a bit of a potty mouth”.

“I think it's good to get content out and [put] yourself out there,” he continues, recognising how beneficial it is for his sponsors before sagely expressing how “some of the comments that you get ain't very nice, but that's life. Everyone's got an opinion and we just have to deal with that.”

Ultimately, “it's a fantastic thing for the game because you look at the growth and darts is bigger than ever. It just keeps booming every single year, it's brilliant for the game, it's brilliant for everyone.”

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“It wouldn't be the hardest thing to get out of bed for.”

Tis the season…

“Well, sometimes you just can't fight fate can you?” Rob quips, when asked about getting sick during the winter months. “I have four kids, so as much as I want to keep myself healthy, I'm sure my kids won't do the same for me.”

Despite admitting to rarely getting ill, Rob has to admit that “I've definitely played sick [and] I've had a fall before and hurt my back and still tried to get for it.”

Even so, “I used to have harder days at the office,” he jokes. “It wouldn't be the hardest thing to get out of bed for.” And while the champ has no doubt that competing while ill would make the game “10 times harder” if you can’t concentrate, being “bedridden” is the only thing that Rob sees stopping him from stepping up to throw.

Speaking of Christmas, Rob explains how he’s “experienced nearly every outcome” when it comes to juggling the holidays and his professional career…

“It's tough because you watch all the kids open their presents and you try and make the day normal and then you go on the board. You want to win every year so you don't really switch off Christmas, but if you win the Worlds then you just move Christmas to a little bit later, don’t you?”

And beyond keeping darts and other sharp objects away from his youngest, Rob describes his family as his biggest supporters. 

Across the pond

Rob has no reservations about darts' growing popularity in America and the potential for North American tournaments, especially after his experience playing at Madison Square Gardens…

“It was just amazing playing at the MSG. You look at the place and everything that's gone on there and sort of [pinch[ yourself and think ‘I'm actually here!’ You sort of feel like you've half cracked it.”

And while Ally Pally is still Rob’s favoured opportunity, he makes it clear that American competitions would be highly appealing, especially with the right prize money up for grabs!

Even so, Rob admits he’d rather play at “a couple of boring places”, because “you get more done on the dartboard”. And after hearing about playing in Vegas, shooting guns, and dune buggy riding, it’s easy to see how “everything [being] extravagant” could be quite a distraction for such a concentration-focused pro.

The idea of foreign tournaments doesn’t stop at America and Canada for Rob though, he also talks of having eyes for Asian competitions, too. “I think it'd just be amazing for the game and the growth would just keep stepping up from there.”

Champion choices

When it comes to pre-game foods, Rob’s focus is fully on protein and anything “that’s quite hearty”, as long as it fits his strategy…

“I don't like to eat too close to when I'm playing because then obviously you feel full up [and] it’s more of a comfort thing. You want to digest it and have it through the system and just feel normal,” he concludes, listing the likes of steak and rice with some carbs as his menu of choice. “I think that makes you a little bit more alert [when] there's no heaviness.”

As for his Hot, Hot, Hot walk-on song choice, Rob confesses to another common superstition…

“I’ve won most when I've gone on to that, but I probably would change it… but obviously not yet,” he says, before coming clean that he’s “probably got no sort of flavour when it comes down to music.”

“Believe it or not, I listen to my little girl's playlist. She's just better at picking music than me – I'll get some modern stuff and then I'll get some 80s and stuff, she’s just better than me at it.”

Despite enjoying this “complete mixed bag”, Rob’s quite clear that sometimes “you just got a few skips”, when it comes to a playlist chock-full of Taylor Swift.

“I love Indian food so I like spicy food,” Rob says, when asked about his favourite restaurant and comfort food. “So mine would be down at Bexhill, it's called Mowgli’s.”

Wrapping up the interview, Rob delivers his predictions for the games ahead in one word – “win”.

“I’d expect nothing less. And if I didn't I'm going to be very upset. So yeah, go in there to win it. My game's in a really good place. I'm enjoying the game and [I’ve] got nothing to lose.”

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.