John Henderson admits he doubted he would ever win a PDC title before his World Cup triumph for Scotland.
After 10 years of trying in the PDC the Highlander, along with Peter Wright, secured World Cup glory in Germany last weekend.
Having come close to winning a tournament since his switch from the BDO in several Pro Tour events as well as the 2017 World Grand Prix the Huntly thrower did wonder if he’d missed his chance to become a winner.
He said: “I’ve been in the PDC 10 years and I’ve definitely had doubts and wondered if that title would come.
“I’m not getting any younger and the standard keeps getting better which is good for the sports.
“So I must admit that I thought my time might have come and gone.
“I think that’s why I showed emotion when I wouldn’t normally because it was a relief as well.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence going forward and hopefully I can keep the momentum going.”
A fantastic homecoming for the Highlander
Returning to Huntly on Tuesday evening Henderson was given a hero’s welcome.
Crowds lined the streets and gathered in the town’s square to show their appreciation for the 48-year-old.
Henderson was taken aback my the response and said he may need to apologise to Stagecoach for causing one of their buses to be late.
He added: “They were lining the streets on both sides and I couldn’t believe it.
“When we got to the square it was packed with people like it always used to be on Hogmanay.
“I think I’ll have to apologise to Stagecoach because the number 10 bus must’ve been late because it couldn’t get through Huntly.
“The bus must have been in Huntly for about an hour because of all the people.
“Passengers on the bus were maybe wondering what had happened – but the driver gave me the thumbs up so he must’ve recognised me.
“It just shows that people follow the darts and reception I had coming back to Huntly was fantastic.”
Happy to do his bit to put Huntly on the sporting map
Henderson – an avid football fan – saw Huntly’s five-in-a-row Highland League title winning team put the town on the sporting map in the 1990s and he’s pleased to have given the town some more positive publicity.
He said: “I remember Huntly’s team that won five Highland Leagues in a row they had a lot of good Scottish Cup runs and they were televised and it was great publicity for Huntly.
“To maybe have done something similar by winning the World Cup of Darts is fantastic for the town.
“Everyone has been through difficult times with Covid, but hopefully I’ve given people something to cheer about.
“It’s been great to hear all the different stories of people watching on Sunday night.
“You’ve people from four to 94 watching it and that’s the great thing about darts that it appeals to so many people.”
Polish win was confidence booster
To win the World Cup Henderson and Wright defeated China, Poland, the Netherlands, Wales and Austria.
Henderson believes his last 16 singles win against Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski gave him the belief he and Wright could go all the way.
“I’d never beaten Krzysztof, so that was a monkey off the back and when I beat him I felt more confident,” he said.
“Playing the Dutch I said ‘give me Michael (van Gerwen), I’ll go first.’
“No disrespect to Dirk van Duijvenbode but I expected Peter to beat him and I believed I could get something off Michael.
“It didn’t happen, but we played well in the doubles and after beating them I thought we had a great chance of winning.
“Playing Wales meant it didn’t get any easier but I said to Peter ‘give my Gerwyn (Price).’
“My confidence was booming and I wanted to play Gerywn and it was the first time playing a top, top seed where I was thinking ‘I’m winning this.’”
Idols get in touch to congratulate Henderson
Henderson defeated Price and although Wright lost to Jonny Clayton the Scots triumphed in the pairs decider.
They then recorded a 3-1 win over Austria in the final by winning the pairs, with Wright defeating Rowby-John Rodriguez and Mensur Suljovic in singles.
Since their triumph Henderson’s phone has been awash with congratulatory messages, while he was also recognised in the Scottish Parliament.
He said: “To get congratulatory messages from guys I’ve idolised means a lot.
“I’ve had messages John Harton, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown and Andrew Considine as well.
“They’ve all been great and it shows how popular darts is. To get messages from these guys is great.
“I’ve been told it was mentioned in the Scottish Parliament as well by Alexander Burnett, which is also very nice to hear.”
Thanks to Anderson
Henderson was a late call-up to the World Cup after Gary Anderson pulled out because he didn’t want to travel to Germany.
The Highlander said: “When Gary pulled out of the Premier League (in 2019) that gave me probably my best night in darts against Michael van Gerwen in Aberdeen.
“Gary and Peter didn’t play in the World Cup last year and myself and Robert Thornton maybe didn’t play to our best, but it was good experience for this year.
“Gary pulled out again so I’ve got a lot to thank him for and I hope I did him proud.”