John Henderson hopes his second Premier League darts appearance in Aberdeen can provide him with another career highlight.
For the second year running the Highlander has been selected as one of the PDC’s challenger players for the first nine weeks of the invitational event.
Hendo will be on the oche when the Premier League kicks off in the Granite City at P&J Live on Thursday February 6, with Fallon Sherrock chosen as the challenger for week two in Nottingham and the others still to be announced.
The Huntly hurler played Michael van Gerwen as a challenger last March and secured a memorable 6-6 draw.
He’s thrilled to have been given the chance to face one of van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price, Rob Cross, Michael Smith, Daryl Gurney, Nathan Aspinall or Glen Durrant this year.
Henderson believes he’s good enough to cause another upset and said: “After playing in Aberdeen last year I wanted more of it and I’m delighted to be chosen.
“It was one of the highlights for me. Some people say the Premier League is a glorified exhibition. But after the reception I got it would have been a disaster if I’d gone up there and lost 7-0 or something.
“I was 3-0 down and averaging 104, but Michael was averaging 117.
“I knew I hadn’t done a lot wrong and when I got that first leg I relaxed.
“Coming back to get the draw made it a fantastic evening. If it tops that then it will be brilliant.
“I know I’ve got the game to compete with any of the players.
“Whether it’s been on the stage or on the floor I’ve beaten all of the players in the Premier League.
“I competed with the best player in the world in Michael in the Premier League last year and I beat him in the World Grand Prix in 2017.
“So to have gone toe-to-toe with Michael like that in the past gives me confidence. I go on to the stage feeling a lot more confident about myself.
“I know I can compete and if the doubles go in I have the scoring power to trouble anyone.
“The doubles didn’t go in against Gerwyn in the World Championship, but they did against Michael in the Premier League last week so if they go for me I believe I can win.”
Last year Henderson felt having the crowd on his side helped.
That night there were 4,000 fans inside the old AECC, but next month there could be as many as 8,000 north-east supporters roaring on the Highlander. And he hopes to give them another good showing.
The 46-year-old added: “With the new arena there will be twice as many folk as last year so it might be twice as noisy.
“I’m not sure if they can top last year – but if the fans do then it will be some night.
“The crowd made a difference for me last year and the pressure on me was different.
“It wasn’t a pressure of having to win, it was having to play well to give the crowd something to cheer about.
“But I managed to do that so there will be more pressure on this year to try to replicate it.
“It’s going to be hard but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Henderson’s last outing on the big stage was last Friday’s 4-0 World Championship third-round loss to Gerwyn Price.
He said: “In the first two sets I felt as though I was playing OK, but Gerwyn wasn’t missing everything.
“I was averaging something like 109 and not doing much wrong, but wasn’t really getting chances at a double.
“The third set was the killer in the match. I had all the darts to win the set and didn’t take them. Gerwyn was playing well and if you don’t take your chances you get punished.
“That’s what happened – I got what I deserved for missing doubles. But I’m happy with how I played.”