Huntly darts hero John Henderson takes on Nathan Aspinall in the Unibet Premier League in Aberdeen
JOHN Henderson admits it will be hard to top last year’s Premier League darts experience when he takes to the stage in Aberdeen tonight.
The Huntly hero produced the performance of his life in front of the best atmosphere he had experienced in last year’s competition, drawing 6-6 with world number one Michael van Gerwen.
‘The Highlander’, as he is known on the PDC circuit, fought out that epic at the old AECC which has now moved to a the P&J Live venue on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
Tonight (Thursday) Hendo will be backed by a loud home support when he takes on world number eight and world championship semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall, with the match screened live on Sky Sports.
“I didn’t think I would ever match last year but there’s going to be 3500 more people in the venue so it’s going to be a loud and noisy night.
“I’m led to believe there will be a 7500 capacity in there but I’m not sure. It was bloody loud last year and there will be a lot more people in this year.
“Last year the piper was two yards in front of me and I couldn’t hear what he was playing. Nobody in the arena knew it was the Flower of Scotland being played.”
Henderson (46), ranked 31 in the world, doesn’t play the full Premier League programme, which is reserved for the top nine ranked players on the circuit. He featured last year when Gary Anderson dropped out due to injury, and this year the event organisers introduced a local ‘contender’ slot for each date around the country, allowing the Huntly player to return as the home hopeful again.
Although his match against Aspinall may be treated as a Scotland versus England battle, Henderson insists it will be played on amiable terms - although he is all out to win.
“I’m very good friends with Nathan so there’s not going to be any animosity on the stage. Obviously both players will want to win, I want to win in front of my home crowd and he is going to want to win in his debut as a participant in the Premier League.
“If we both play to our potential it will be a good and close game, plenty 180s, high scoring and that will keep the crowd pleased.
“There’s maybe a wee bit of pressure on me to win. Some people might think because I got a draw against Michael last year they expect me to go one better against Nathan but that’s not the way it works. He’s got the game to beat anybody so I am looking forward to it.
Hendo insists the noisy atmosphere won’t get in his way of a good performance. “If I’m being honest, after the first couple of throws you kind of forget the crowd are there,” he said.
“You are all focused on what you are doing and all you are thinking on is the board rather than the crowd. If you are playing terrible then you are looking for excuses if you blame it on the crowd screaming.
“On Thursday night they will be screaming for me so I’ve got no excuses now. I just need to go out and do the business.”