ROB CROSS goes into the William Hill World Championship admitting the shock of losing his grandad to Covid-19 broke his heart.
The 2018 World Champion kicks off his bid to regain the title against either Dirk van Duijvenbode or Bradley Brooks on December 22.
But Sussex star Cross, 30, revealed he is still struggling to deal with the enormity of losing his grandad Colin back in April.
He said: “Everyone is dealt a hand in life and you have to deal with it. I’m not going to lie, this year has opened my eyes up to life and how tough it can be.
“Sometimes I wonder how life can go from that good to that bad so fast.
“Losing my grandad to Covid-19 broke my heart. You are never sure how long or how it will affect you, when that grief will come to the surface.
“It was such a shock, a massive shock. It rocked us all for so long. No one can prepare you for that. It’s there every day, it doesn’t leave you.
“Yet we’ve had some amazing times. I’m so glad he got to see me become World Champion three years ago.
“Obviously we’ve also had the birth of my fourth baby Bobby. But that was hard because my wife Georgia had SPD during the pregnancy and she ended up in a wheelchair before he was born, that was stressful.
“So we’ve had a lot of highs and lows. But that’s just life we have to get on with it.
“I’ll be honest, my mind has been elsewhere this year, it’s almost been a write-off. So much has changed in my life.
“I’ve been struggling in myself I guess. There’s not a day goes by without me thinking of my grandad.
“It’s weird, I hadn’t been home for so long during our long stint in Coventry. When I did get home I realised I hadn’t been to the grave for three weeks. I thought that was crazy. So stopped into the grave and had a chat with him for half an hour.
“We are very close as a family, always have been. Now my nan lives with us, I see her every day and I feel a bit guilty because she clearly doesn’t enjoy life as much as she used to. I find that hard to deal with sometimes.
“But we are never going to replace the person who she is missing, and we are all missing him, he was a massive inspiration to me in my life.
“It has been a big change with losing my management. It’s easy to get sucked into other problems. It opens your eyes being on your own.
“Before I only just went and played darts, now there’s lots of other issues to deal with. It has been different but I’ve been lucky to have people around me who have helped me.
“Now for me it’s all about trying to find the right balance of life and darts.”
Cross has shown glimpses of the great form that took him to Worlds glory in the most sensational style back in 2018.
He reached the World Cup final for England with Michael Smith and also missed out in the final of the World Series to Gerwyn Price.
Cross added: “I just have to focus on my concentration. I can be doing fine then my mind goes to China and back.
“In the lockdown I never did enough practice because of other reasons. When I came back I think I started throwing a bit differently and it was worse than ever before.
“Now it’s smooth and getting the follow through right. The only thing I’ve been guilty of is moving my body but I’ve been cutting that out as well.
“It’s all about timing now. If it’s all working right and flowing then you are taking big numbers out and that wins games.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on my own at events recently. I just wanted to sit with my own thoughts. My problems are all in my own hands. If I don’t play well, it’s all on me to sort it. There’s no one else who can fix that.
“When I lost to Dave Chisnall in the Grand Slam, I never left my room all night. I didn’t even speak to my family, I gave myself a kick up the arse and when I woke up the next day I felt I was ready to go again.
“People don’t see the real Rob Cross, I keep my competitive side under wraps really.
“I have to be disciplined, I tell myself what I’ve done wrong. I’m very hard on myself but that’s to get the best out of myself.
“I’ve had six months of losing and I’m sick of it. I do want to correct it. I will get stronger.”
Words: Phil Lanning
Image: Taylor Lanning