Matching MVG a career high for Hendo
MATCHING the mighty Michael van Gerwen in front of a capacity 4500 crowd was the greatest night of John Henderson's darts career so far.
Standing in as a guest player for two-time world champion Gary Anderson on the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) Premier League's Aberdeen night, Henderson was paired up against the greatest player on the planet – Dutch master van Gerwen, known as MVG.
Defying all odds, world number 20 Henderson –nicknamed The Highlander on the darts circuit – recovered from 3-0 down and an expected defeat to earn a 6-6 draw and the biggest cheer of the night.
Watched by a TV audience of millions worldwide, the Huntly hero was piped to Flower of Scotland into the AECC as the local favourite, creating what commentators described as one of the best atmospheres they had heard at a darts event.
"I was expecting it to be loud but not loud," said Henderson. "It was so loud at the start I could hardly hear the piper and he was only a couple of yards in front of me.
"That tops anything I've done. I've came on in exhibitions and Ally Pally and Blackpool but nothing like that. Having 4500 screaming out your name, and I know they want to see the top Premier League guys but a lot of them were there for me was just brilliant.
"It was something special and something that will live with me for the rest of my life."
When van Gerwen fought off Henderson's resistance to lead 6-4, he was expected to seal a win which would put him top of the Premier League. However, The Highlander stormed back with a pair of double top finishes to clinch a draw.
Henderson revealed how current world champ van Gerwen was quick to praise his performance, and compared the atmosphere at Aberdeen to his home country's Rotterdam Ahoy arena, which holds almost three times as many people.
"He just said 'well done, go and enjoy it because they are here for you'. That's Michael for you. He is always down-to-earth whether he wins or loses. He's such a gentleman and not big headed at all.
"I asked him later that night if that was as loud as Rotterdam and he said it was very close. You've got to think that Rotterdam has got 12000 folk and that was only 4500 in Aberdeen so it shows how loud they were. They did themselves proud."
Now he has a taste of the Premier League, Henderson wants more and is targeting a break into the world top ten so he can qualify for the elite event.
"I would love to get into the Premier League on my own merits, not just doing the one week but doing all 16 weeks," he said.
"I've got a good bit to go but that's what I'm going for, so you never know."