'I honestly had never danced before, not even with my mates when we have been out drinking'MAN'S man Darren Gough is hoping his dazzling performances in top-rated Strictly Come Dancing will inspire butch blokes to cast their vote for him in tonight's all-important live final.
The 35-year-old fast bowler admits dance has taken over his life and that he and his Sheffield-based partner Lilia Kopylova are "raring to go" in tonight's showdown.
He said: "I think the show, and my part in it in particular, has made it okay for guys to dance and I would encourage anyone to try it. "Hopefully, I have shown that ballroom dancing is not for sissies but for ordinary blokes just like me. All my family and all my mates in Barnsley are backing me, and I think one reason so many people have supported us on the show is that I am like so many other blokes out there.
"Me and my family are down to earth and normal and I like to think people can associate with us. People like to see a trier and that's what I'm doing week after week.
"I'm learning something new, trying my best and loving every minute of it."
Twinkle-toed Dazzler and his professional Latin American champion partner Lilia, 26, have enjoyed a dizzying turnaround since finishing eighth in the first episode of the show.
Since then the couple's dancing has got better and better each week, and Darren has been repeatedly named by the fearsome panel of judges as the most improved dancer of the series.
Darren said today: "I'm not kidding, I honestly had never ever danced before, not even with my mates in town when we have been drinking. I just used to lean against the bar and watch people.
"I laughed when I was first asked to go on Strictly Come Dancing and only said yes after my mum, Christine, said I should give it a go. "She had done some ballet lessons when she was a girl that's the nearest any of us came to having anything to do with dancing." Darren admits he is amused by the antics of his grandma, Connie Gough, who has become something of a mini TV celebrity on Strictly Come Dancing shows.
The plucky pensioner had even recorded personal television messages for her grandson, urging him in her broad Barnsley accent to "Give it yer best, cocker".
Darren said: "She's loving every minute of it! She makes me laugh, and people all over the country now know my gran.
"My kids Liam, aged 10, and Brennan, deven, have also caught the dancing bug and have already had a lesson from head judge Len Goodman! They love being in the audience on a Saturday night cheering us on. I've no idea what will happen tonight, but I would like to think those people that do vote for me and Lilia do so because they like what they see."