Darts star Robert Thornton is looking forward to some raucous support from Scottish fans when he appears at next month’s Masters event at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston.
Thornton, ranked No. 11 in the world, is hoping the atmosphere will be just as intense as when he plays south of the border – so his fellow darters will know just how he feels when some sections of the English crowd get a wee bit “Inger-land”.
Recent events have shown some sections of the crowd becoming somewhat hostile towards the Scottish players, but Thornton is keen to focus on the positives that can emerge from the three-day tournament in the Capital.
He said: “It’s going to be amazing. You’re looking at four or five thousand, so it’s the noise that’s going to be there – the English will get it – what we feel like when we go down there. It can give you that bit more confidence, but I switch off when I see a darts board – that’s just me.
“Don’t get me wrong, when you’re first walking on it’s electric, but once you’re up there and you’ve thrown a few darts, you just freeze everything out.
Thornton, from Ayrshire, is the only Scottish player yet to confirm his participation in the event that will include the top 16 players from the PDC’s world rankings – current world champion Phil Taylor, Dutch sensation Michael van Gerwen, and European champion Adrian Lewis are all expected to be among the frontrunners.
However, compatriots Gary Anderson and Peter Wright are also hoping to earn their place at Ingliston before the draw is made later this month.
Thornton continued: “I am looking forward to it and am looking on the positive side. If it’s a big hit, then maybe make it top 32 next year and make it a world ranking event.
“I think it’s the best era of Scottish darts right now as we’ve got myself and Gary, Peter, and big John Henderson is coming through, so you’ve got them all trying their socks off to get in.”
The 46-year-old, who this year competed in his first Premier League Darts and finished fifth in the final league standings, hasn’t been without his own personal issues in recent years, where at one stage it was feared he may never make a return to the competitive darts circuit after a bad break to his hand. However, he believes he has shown he still has plenty to offer at the top level.
And, he is not one to wrap himself in a cocoon of his own making. In fact, Thornton can be quite vocal when pushing more young Scottish players to recognise their talent and step up to the oche.
When asked about his role in promoting the sport within his homeland, ‘The Thorn’ said: “I don’t see that at all. I just see me as a guy going up to play darts and people support me. I’ve spoken to umpteen people who have said they don’t watch darts, but when they hear about a Scotsman on it they tune into it and they’re hooked, but there are also young boys in the area coming up and they’re picking up darts which I think is absolutely brilliant.
“There are some cracking young darts players out there who just don’t take it serious. They maybe go out on a Monday night or a Tuesday, play their darts and then that’s them done. I would say to them to do what I did and go to some tournaments first, pick up the experience and just keep going.”