Yorkshire cricketing legend Darren Gough talks about his future
PUBLISHED: 23:49 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 20:24 28 April 2016
He has played world class cricket and unexpectedly proved his worth on the dance floor but what next for legendary bowler Darren Gough? Esther Leach talks to him PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOAN RUSSELL.
Cricket has been Darren Gough's life for the last 20 years. He has travelled widely and experienced international acclaim but the cricketing world is a tough one and in some ways he has paid the price for his success. His decision to retire from cricket has been, he says, like a massive weight lifted from his shoulders and a new and very different chapter in his life has begun.
'I could have gone on another year,' he says. 'I thought about it for a while and then just decided to go. I love one day cricket, love it to bits, but couldn't do the four days any more, it wasn't for physical reasons, but mentally I just couldn't get myself round to playing four day cricket all the time, travelling from one hotel to the next four day game. I didn't want to spoil it by going on one more year.'
Gough, who was talking before he joined guests at the opening of the new Terrace Restaurant at the Kimberley Hotel, Harrogate, says it was all too easy to become lost in the world of cricket and often at great personal expense.
'You can lose yourself in cricket for a long, long time,' he says. 'High profile cricketers have talked about being away on their own for long periods of time, the way they have to shut themselves off from everything, they have been honest about their depression, and it is a hard life.
'It's great while you are doing it as a cricketer but you become lost in that world of cricket, everything about you, your life, on your days off you're thinking about the next game and suddenly now I feel as if a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders.'
He now faces other kinds of pressure as he looks to a less certain future but he says he is excited about a new beginning in his life. He is surprised so many people have asked him to play since he announced his retirement last September.
'You say you are retiring and everyone shows an interest,' he says. 'I have had other clubs around the country asking me if I would go back and play one day cricket for them and I've said no. I made my move when I went to Essex three years ago and I am back in Yorkshire now. And if I was to play again I would play for Yorkshire. I have found it amazing, now that I am retired and at the age of 38 which is old for cricket, that the interest in me to play cricket is still quite huge.'
Grateful as he may be for the offers Gough wants to give other things in life a go. 'I am keeping my options open. I want to do serious television. I am doing something at the minute, on diet and lifestyle from around the world.
'I like entertainment. I am on Hole in the Wall (BBC 1, Saturday) which has five million viewers, which at five o'clock in the afternoon is a lot of people, so I really enjoy what I am doing. I think I am the first cricketer to be doing that.
'I have no sense of urgency; it's a case of finding something I really want to do. I would like something more settled than I have had for the last 20 years but at the minute it's an experimenting time, seeing what suits me.
'Is it going into coaching? I'm not too keen at this moment, but in a year's time I might be saying I am missing cricket and I wouldn't mind going back to coaching. Is it going to be as a cricket commentator? I already have my own radio programme in the summer but I don't want to do it full time, travelling with the cricket, doing that all again.
'I love television, always have done, but I'll be experimenting over the next six or seven months. There has been a lot of interest and picking what's right for me, well that's the hard bit.'
One thing is certain and that is Barnsley-born Gough will be in Yorkshire more often than not. 'All my family and my best friends are still in Yorkshire. I have been best friends with the same boys for 30 years. I am always here. I am Yorkshire through and through. Unfortunately I left Yorkshire a while ago. My kids (his sons Liam and Brennan live in Milton Keynes with his ex-wife Anna) are settled in education and I am not going to move back here because I won't see my kids except at weekends, I am not going to do that. For the moment I am settled where I am. But I am Yorkshire through and through.'
Dancing is still a part, if not a big part, of his life after taking the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing trophy way back now in 2005. He does take to the floor for charity and earlier in the day he had been teaching youngsters basic jive steps as well as the waltz and Viennese waltz to expectant mums, disabled people in wheel chairs and elderly people.
He still watches Strictly and he has his views especially on the John Sergeant saga. 'I got the feeling he wanted to leave,' says Gough. 'I was disappointed he quit when he did. I thought it was a bit risky when he said he had to be on a cruise in a couple of weeks. I think he would have definitely been in the bottom two the following Saturday and the judges would have voted him out. I don't think he would have survived another week even though the public found him so endearing. I love the show, even the judges. It's about fun; it's about enjoyment and entertainment.'
Plans for a much-talked about Darren Gough Dance Academy are not going to happen. 'It's not something I have forgotten about. It was said tongue in cheek but people took it seriously,' explains Gough. 'We have chatted about ways of doing it but nothing has happened yet. I am quite happy to put my name to dance, I love it, I enjoyed it and it is kind of part of my life.
'It has revealed a different me, the way I look upon everything and the fact you shouldn't judge anything until you actually do it.When I started dancing I thought it was just going to be a laugh, I would do it and see what happens and I actually fell in love with it. Dancing brings out your softer side.'
But Gough doesn't dance regularly. 'It's impossible to do that. I would find it very difficult now to go to a dance school after training with a world champion for 12 weeks. People expect you to be the belle of the ball and just turn up and dance, it's not real, I can't do that. I learned a dance in a week and performed on the Saturday. I can do every basic step of the dance but I can't just grab a lady off the street and start to dance which a lot of people think you can. It's a fairy tale that.
'But today I did dance and taught people a basic waltz, basic Viennese waltz and I did a bit of jive with the kids. I know all the basic steps but to put it together as a real team with someone and teach them, I would find it very, very difficult.'