Raymond van Barneveld is targeting a Premier League play-off spot after his sensational victory over world number two Gary Anderson on an unforgettable night of darts at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena last Thursday.
The five-time world champion received a deafening reception from the 10,000 Dutch fans and produced a sublime display to delight the ‘sea of orange’. Van Barneveld averaged 103.71, landed five maximums and converted 70% of his double attempts to record a spectacular 7-2 triumph and move up to fourth in the Premier League table.
Barney beamed: “It was massive for me; a brilliant night. When you get to play for such a public, with your friends and family in the audience and everyone dressed in orange… That’s fantastic. These kind of nights are very important to me. It gives you a very warm feeling when everyone is singing ‘Barney Army’. I am a very grateful man.
“Last year we came here in May and I couldn’t make the play-offs, so the adrenaline was different to tonight. Playing Gary Anderson in the middle of the Premier League; the adrenaline was there,” the Dutchman added.
Anderson had won his last eleven meetings with Van Barneveld dating back to early 2015, but the Den Haag ace claimed that self-belief was the key behind his victory. “I know for the last eleven times Gary was beating me, but I said to myself: ‘Come on Ray, keep believing in yourself. You’re playing so well for the last six or seventh months; why not tonight?’
“Tonight everything went well. When he started with 140, 140 I thought here we go again, but I was finishing well. At the end of the day, a 7-2 result against the world number two; that’s a big effort,” Van Barneveld acknowledged.
RvB also admitted that he was delighted to reward his magnificent home support. “Of course it was difficult for Gary to play in this atmosphere here in Rotterdam, but trust me I was playing Gary in Aberdeen last year and that wasn’t easy either. To play in front of your home crowd means a lot and I didn’t want to let them down. I am really happy with this victory.”
Although it was an extremely special occasion for the Dutchman to cherish, it was also a hugely important result which catapulted him into the play-off places, above Anderson and Phil Taylor.
Van Barneveld was facing a potential relegation battle just a fortnight ago, but his vintage comeback from 4-1 behind against Jelle Klaasen eased those fears, whilst his triumph over Anderson mathematically confirmed his Premier League survival.
The 2014 Premier League champion has now turned his attention to making the play-offs for a ninth time; a record only bettered by Phil Taylor. “Eight points now, so I’m safe and hopefully we believe in the play-offs. Why not? First thing’s first there’s no relegation. The next target is to make it to the play-offs and we will see what happens.”
This week, Van Barneveld faces his compatriot Michael van Gerwen, in their first competitive meeting since their astonishing World Championship semi-final clash on New Years Day.
‘The Green Machine’ may have his sights set on regaining top spot in Manchester, but in current form, who would put it past the five-time world champion inflicting Van Gerwen’s first televised defeat for a staggering 43 matches?
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC