JOHN Henderson didn’t think his Premier League debut could be topped – but now the Highlander is out to make tonight’s return the best night of his career.
The Huntly thrower takes on Nathan Aspinall in the Premier League’s opening night at P&J Live this evening.
Hendo has returned to the PDC’s invitational event as a challenger after fulfilling a same role in Aberdeen a year ago, when he earned a draw against Michael van Gerwen.
The 46-year-old lists that as a career highlight, but with over 7000 north-east fans backing him tonight compared with 4000 a year ago, he hopes the atmosphere and his performance will surpass 12 months ago
Henderson said: “That was the highlight of my darting career playing in the Premier League last year.
“This will be another great night with a bigger crowd, Gary Anderson back in the Premier League and Peter Wright as world champion.
“It probably will top last year because there are 300 more fans.
“So it will be even nosier and there will be even more beer getting thrown, there’s all the best players in the world here plus me.
“So we’ll wait and see if I can top last year – I find it hard to believe it will – but you never know.
“The result may mean I top last year. I drew against Michael last year but now a lot of people will be expecting me to go one better against Nathan. If I do that then it would top last year.”
Henderson regards tonight’s Premier League appearance as free hit and wants to savour the occasion.
While the other nine players are competing for points over the next 15 weeks to make the play-offs at London’s O2 Arena, this is Henderson’s shot at glory.
He added: “It’s more a pressure to play well rather than events like the World Championships where there’s a pressure because of the world rankings.
“This is a one-off and I want to give the crowd something to shout about.
“For all the other guys there’s pressure for points to try to get to the play-offs at the end of the Premier League.
“But for me it’s a one-off and I want to play well and see what happens.
“If you can’t enjoy nights like this you’ll never enjoy a night at the darts.
“You play all year to be involved in nights like this so I hope I can give the home crowd a show and send them all home happy.”
Aspinall played in the Premier League last year as a challenger and having won the UK Open and US Darts Masters in 2019, he has earned himself a full invitation on merit.
Henderson has a lot of admiration for the world No8 and said: “He’s a really good lad Nathan and he’s had a really good year winning the UK Open and US Masters in Las Vegas.
“He never gets above himself, he’s an up and coming player with a really big future.”
This evening begins with Michael Smith against Glen Durrrant, then former winner, Scotland’s Gary Anderson plays Daryl Gurney on his Premier League return before Henderson v Aspinall, Peter Wright meets Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross plays Gerwyn Price in the final match.