For John Henderson it will strange watching PDC’s World Matchplay on TV for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the event, which starts tomorrow, is being held behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes because of the coronavirus pandemic, rather in front of thousands of fans at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
And, secondly, the Highlander has played in the tournament for the last three years, but missed out on qualification this time after five Pro Tour events over five days last week.
The Huntly hurler said: “It will be a strange watching the matchplay with no crowd. Speaking to some of the players going, they weren’t looking forward to it.
“They’re pleased to be playing darts again, but instead of looking at a big crowd they’re going to be looking at a black curtain.
“But I’d rather be in their position than mine and be heading back down to Milton Keynes.
“As soon as I got home earlier in the week, it was straight back onto the practice board.”
At last week’s Pro Tour competitions, Henderson started just £1000 behind the player occupying the last World Matchplay spot in the ranks.
However, his bid to qualify didn’t get off to a good start with first round defeats in the first three days to Krzysztof Kciuk, Kai Fan Leung and Scott Baker.
He beat Ross Smith in his day four opener, but was then defeated by in-form world champion Peter Wright, meaning that heading into the final day Henderson needed to reach the final of the last event to qualify for the World Matchplay.
Wins against Ricky Evans, Matt Clark, Mensur Suljovic and Micky Mansell took him to the quarter-finals, but a 6-3 loss to Devon Petersen ended his hopes.
He added: “I didn’t realise going into the last day what I needed to do. At the start of the series, I was only about £1000 off the last spot.
“I knew everyone involved would win games and Kim Huybrechts was the one we were all chasing.
“After the first three days I didn’t think about the matchplay because I thought I was too far off and didn’t have a chance.
“If I’d won a few more games on the fourth day then I might have had a look at it, but come the last day I thought my hopes were gone.
“So I was just trying to win a few games and earn some money in the rankings.
“I won on day four and then ran into an in-form Peter Wright, who went ballistic.
“I didn’t look at the standings for the matchplay and it was only when I came off after losing to Devon Petersen that one of the guys from the PDC said Devon needed to win it and I needed to reach the final.
“I didn’t realise I was that close, but with hindsight I’m glad I didn’t know because it might have put added pressure on me.
“It was nice to play better and reach the quarter-finals. I maybe rode my luck along the way, but that’s the sort of luck I didn’t get get in the first few days and you’ve got to take it when it’s there.”