John Henderson’s journey to become a World Cup of Darts champion has been an extraordinary one.
“If somebody had said to me 30 years ago I’d be a professional darts player and win a World Cup I’d have laughed at you,” remarked the Highlander reflecting on his career after his biggest success.
Although he’d played darts at home with his late dad Dougie, it was never something Henderson pursued in his youth.
However, a darts competition at Huntly Cricket Club and meeting Alford’s BDO World Championship quarter-finalist Bob Taylor was the start of Henderson’s journey.
‘Are you interested in darts?’
He explained: “One Sunday there was a pool and darts competition and Bob was there.
“Bob beat me 3-1 and he said ‘are you interested in darts?’ And I said no and that was the end of it.
“But then we started a team in my local, the Huntly Hotel, I played well and it progressed from there.
“Huntly decided to put a team into the Superleague and you play that to get into the counties.
“We played Alford and I beat one of their good players and Bob asked if I fancied playing counties.
“But I told him I wasn’t interested because I didn’t want to play on Saturdays because I liked my football too much.
“But Bob kept on at me along with a couple of other guys from Alford and it was 2000 that I played counties for the first time.
“It was another two years before I decided to properly give county darts a go.
“I got picked to play for Scotland in 2004 and that was how it all started really.”
Football was Henderson’s passion
Henderson enjoyed watching Celtic and Huntly in his spare time prior to taking darts seriously.
He added: “My life was football, I’d have loved to have played it.
“My cousin Martin Stewart played for Huntly which gave me an added interest in watching Huntly and I had a Celtic season ticket.
“I’d work through the week and then watch football at weekends. Bob had a massive influence on my career when I look back.
“There have been a lot of other people as well, but Bob pushed that bit harder than everyone else to come and give darts a go and I’ve really got him to thank.”
From BDO to PDC
After his Scotland call-up in 2004 Henderson qualified for the BDO World Championship at Lakeside in 2005.
He played at Lakeside again in 2010 and won a number of open tournaments on the BDO circuit before earning his PDC tour card in 2011 and gave up his job testing lifting equipment for offshore industry in September of that year to focus fully on darts.
He said: “Going to the Grand Slam (as a BDO player) in 2010 gave me the appetite to go to the PDC and I got in through Q-School in 2011.
“It’s a gamble (giving up your job) because when you work in another job you have a guaranteed income.
“You don’t have that in darts, but the gamble has paid off for me.”
Battling back from arm trouble
Since then Henderson has featured regularly at the major PDC tournaments like the World Championship, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix.
However, within weeks of giving up his job a mystery problem with his right arm – which prevented him from throwing properly – threatened to derail his career.
Henderson said: “I went to a lot of physio and I got tablets to thin the blood and I think that sorted it out.
“With having quite a unique throw it took time to get my timing and confidence back.
“When I’d just left my job it was a major worry. To this day when I wake up I throw three imaginary darts to make sure I’m OK.
“I’ve no idea how it came about, we think it was just a trapped nerve, but it took a long time to come back from.”