Stefan Ram

At Home With Darren Gough

Most sports people see their popularity wane when their career ends – but for England cricket ace Darren Gough that couldn’t be further from the truth. He invites us over to his house to talk Strictly, country life and ‘Goughie’s World’.

Darren Gough is the subject of our ‘At Home With’ feature in the latest issue of our HomeTime Customer magazine. We spoke exclusively to Darren about all things Strictly, sporting and spending time at home. In a Ketchup exclusive as part of that interview, Darren told us about his biggest career regret.

With the shortened form of cricket hitting the English headlines this summer (former Captain Michael Vaughan claimed England now have their best ever side), and big money tournaments springing up all over the world, ‘Goughie’ thinks he may have missed a format of the game that would have suited him down to the ground.

He said: “I played the first T20 International England versus Australia at the Rose Bowl and I was made for T20.  That’s what I grew up on, playing that sort of cricket, batting and bowling and smashing it, and I was just so disappointed that I couldn’t play T20 cricket at my peak.

“If T20 had been around in the late 90s that would have been the ultimate for me.  You look at players like Gayle, Pietersen, De Villiers and McCullen, and I would have liked to think I would have been on that level.”

However, Darren reveals to Ketchup that we might not have seen the last of the Gough name on the international cricket stage, despite his days at the crease having come to an end.

With two teenage sons, home life for the Gough family is very sport focused.  “It’s all about sports.  My sons are mad about it and that’s the way it’s been since they were five.  My son Liam plays cricket for Essex.  He’s top scorer with 850 runs so far this year.  He’s doing really well.  My younger son Brennan is 18 and he’s had a few injuries, but he’s a promising bowler.” 

Although the former fast bowler admits that it is difficult not to get too involved, he believes he has found the right balance between supporting his children whilst letting them find their own direction.

He said:  “I encourage it but coaching wise it’s something I’ve tried to stay out of.  I find them very difficult to coach, because I’m their dad, it’s an absolute nightmare to be honest!” But they’ve got all the facilities, they’ve got a proper pitch there” (Darren points to the professional cricket net installed in the garden).  

 

Read the full interview with Goughie here:

Most sports people see their popularity wane when their career ends – but for England cricket ace Darren Gough that couldn’t be further from the truth. He invites us over to his house to talk Strictly, country life and ‘Goughie’s World’.

Darren Gough is busy rounding-up a collection of his most prized possessions. An eclectic assortment, which best sums up his career achievements to date. Amongst the hoard is a top of the range Ducati, a Genesis push bike, a few trophies from his dancing days and of course a cricket bat.

Surrounded by peaceful Buckinghamshire countryside, we’re lucky enough to be spending the morning with the witty Yorkshire man. We want to understand what makes him tick, the secret to his success and, importantly to us, how he likes to relax at home. In Darren’s words, it’s all about giving us a little insight into “Goughie’s World”.

Arguably best known for his cricketing feats, Darren was fast bowler for his county and country during a 19 year career. A local lad with working class roots, and a natural ability for the sport, Darren’s name belongs near the top of anyone’s list of England cricketing legends. We ask where this influence came from? “It’s amazing really, because I wouldn’t say that I come from sporty parents. My mum was very much into ballet, she was pretty good at it. My dad, not really sporty at all. My uncle was a talented footballer, and not that much older than me, so that’s probably where my love of football came from. We used to go on holiday to Butlins every year, and I’d play in the football tournaments and always win a free holiday for me and my family. Cricket was, at first, just something that I did at school.”

For something that he just did at school, this really is a story of the boy done good. So what’s the secret of Darren’s success? “Since the age of about 21, I’ve been very disciplined in what I wanted to do,” he explains. “I’ve always had goals that I wanted to achieve, but I’ve done it with an enthusiasm and a smile which I think was quite infectious and the public seemed to respond well to me. Let’s be honest, most people associate cricket with private schools and then I came along, a lad from Yorkshire with a natural talent, but also having a laugh and enjoying it. Every time I went out there (on the pitch), whatever was happening, I tried to enjoy it, because actually, I just couldn’t believe I was playing for England.”

Sitting around Darren’s convivial kitchen breakfast bar, in what he calls the “heart of the home”, we probe the sportsman about his time spent away from home on international tours and what the sacrifices were. “I hate saying this but it’s the absolute truth, and you only realise when you retire, but sportsman are very selfish. Possibly the most selfish people you could ever meet. You just get lost in that whole world and it’s all about you. It’s a survival tactic though. Back in my day we were away for four to six months at a time and the pressure is on. You’re the one who has to go out and perform, you’re the one who’s going to take the criticism, you’re the one who has to keep performing to keep your place. You have to get into it. My family and I call it, ‘Goughie’s World’; I get into a bubble where that’s everything. It’s great in a way because it gives you a discipline but it can also be tough on those around you.

“All in all, I was away from my family for a long time. It wasn’t like it is now, where in many cases partners are flown out in business class and nannies for their kids are provided!”

We move on to talk about Darren’s more recent accomplishments. For anyone who watches the show, it’s easy to believe that he is now just as recognisable for his successes on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing as he is for those on the cricket pitch. Darren mentioned to us earlier that his mum was a ballerina, we ask if this fuelled his post retirement transition onto the dance floor.

“Well she was the one who persuaded me to do it! But initially I didn’t want to do it. I’d never danced in my life. I wasn’t keen on completely taking myself out of my comfort zone and embarrassing myself. I genuinely thought I’d go out in the first week.”

“It’s not like how the show is now, where many of the contestants come from some sort of theatre or dancing background and they’re already good when they start. My year, we were pretty much all complete beginners and the public had a bigger say in who stayed and who went.” It seems to us that the Darren Gough who was widely celebrated on the cricket pitch for wearing his heart on his sleeve, was able to flash his winsome public persona again to earn the viewer’s affections. He’s the first to admit that he wasn’t the best dancer on the show, but his competitive spirit did kick in… “the first four weeks I only trained two-three hours a day – to fit around my kid’s school days – whilst all the other contestants were doing six. When I got past weeks three and four, my competitive juices kicked in and I upped my game. I think I was the contestant that people could relate to and could see week-on-week how I was improving. I loved it. Out of all the shows I’ve done it would be the one I’d do again. It’s tough though, and it’s definitely a sport in its own right in my opinion.”

Our last question on Strictly: who was the most competitive on the show? “Probably my fellow Yorkshire man James Martin,” laughs Darren. “He got to the last four and the public were also putting him through. He was quite competitive with me!”

Darren shifts in his seat. “I’m feeling a little bit sore today” he says, explaining that he has been cycling huge amounts recently. “Cycling is something that I got the bug for last year. I did a charity bike ride for Lord Taveners and raised £320,000. It was the Ashes bike ride tour, we visited every ground along the way. It was hard, but I also really enjoyed it.”

Is cycling your new sporting passion then? “Well, I’ve had 10 operations on my knees so I can’t run, so for where I am now with my body, my options in terms of sports are cycling and golf. This has been a more serious year for me and cycling, as well as Ride London I cycled in the L’Etape du Tour in The Alps this year (part of reality TV show Tour de Celeb) and I’ve probably covered around 4,000 kilometres in 2016 so far.”

Shifting attention to a more high powered kind of bike, we’ve of coursed noticed an impressive Ducati sitting just outside. We ask Darren where this fits into his mix of passions?

"It’s another way for me, when I’m on my own, to just get on my bike and get away from anything. It’s the perfect place for it here in Buckinghamshire and when the weather is nice I just ride. I just like the feeling of being on my own on a powerful motorbike. I’m not one of those riders who gets their knee down and takes the corners, I just like to cruise, I’m very much a cruiser.”

Sitting here with Darren in the glorious British countryside, we take it for granted that he is a country over city boy. “100%. Absolutely countryside”, Darren gushes. “I could not live in London! (Where Darren works five days a week co-hosting talkSPORT’s DriveTime show) I love peace and quiet, it’s just lovely where I live. My family, my three dogs and me.”

They say a man’s home is his castle and it’s clearly true in this case. We know ‘Goughie’ is a HomeServe customer so has help at hand if needed, but we wonder if any of the general handiwork is down to him? “None of it, I’m rubbish at DIY”, Darren admits. “Putting up a flat pack, I’m the worst at it. Because I don’t like to read instructions, I just like to try and do it, and I put it all together wrong then I just end up getting frustrated and leaving it. I can just about change a bulb but otherwise we leave it all to the experts!”

What’s your biggest home extravagance we ask? “My kitchen”, Darren replies straightaway. “I love my kitchen. This is where we spend a lot of our time. My kitchen and my bedroom I’ve always said, those are the two places I spend a lot of time, and I want to get them right. We love having our family and friends over. We’ve just had our parents down from Yorkshire. I’ve got my own bar, and a beer tap, it’s a great area to have everyone.”

So when you’re not working, taking part in TV shows or entertaining, what do you like to do?

“I don’t get home from work until 8.30pm, so for me, the first thing I do is open the fridge and have a glass of wine and watch some TV, wind down really, I love doing that. In a house with two teenagers, there’s sport on every TV, we’ve got five Sky boxes in this house! The kids won’t share as they watch different things, and if you go through most of the house there will be sport on.” Surely it can’t be sport all the time though? Is there anything else you watch, we ask? “Oh yeah, I pretty much love anything with adventure and fighting, with a bit of mystery as well. Shows like Banshee, Vikings and Game of Thrones I love.”

So is a Saturday night for you, in or out, we want to know? “I’m not into going out at all. I don’t even really do the local pub and I’ve always been a pub over a bar man. If we do anything, we go away to a hotel somewhere in the country. We like to go to the Cotswolds or Burnham Market in Norfolk, not too far away and both are lovely.”

We spot a couple of Mary Berry books propped up in the kitchen. Are they yours we ask? “They’re not mine”, smiles Darren. “I’m not a big cook, but when I do, I don’t use cookbooks. I did a diet show a while ago and I was partnered with Aldo Zilli in Italy, and he taught me to cook a beautiful dish called Cod with Caponata, it’s basically cod with olives, aubergines, courgettes, celery and onion. It’s healthy and delicious. I often make that.”

It’s time for Darren to rush off into London for his DriveTime slot on talkSPORT, any guilty pleasures we quickly ask? “Eating cheese!”, comes the reply. And with that he’s out the door… it’s non-stop in Goughie’s World.