Glen Durrant will take on history-maker Fallon Sherrock in Week Two of this year’s Premier League in Nottingham and the three-time BDO world champion admits that whilst Sherrock is the weakest ‘challenger’ on paper, mentally it will provide one of the biggest tests of his career.
Durrant enjoyed a stunning debut season in the PDC after finally crossing the darting divide last January – winning two Pro Tour titles and reaching three televised semi-finals at the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Grand Slam of Darts to close in on a place in the world’s top 20.
‘Duzza’ featured in last year’s Premier League as a ‘contender’ although his exploits over the last 12 months have seen him selected as a permanent fixture in this year’s line-up and speaking to Teesside Live, he recalls the magical moment he learnt of his inclusion.
“I told my manager I didn’t want to know but at about 5pm he text me saying he’d normally have had the call but now but hadn’t heard anything, he said it didn’t look like I was in,” Durrant said.
“I accepted it. It would have been a dream but I started trying to look at the positives, thinking it would have taken a lot out of me and I do miss being at home. At 6pm we spoke again. No call, not looking good.
“At five past seven we spoke on the phone and he said he couldn’t hold on any longer, he had to tell me, I was in. When Barry Hearn came on the TV and confirmed it later that night it was like winning Lakeside all over again, my phone was going mad.”
Durrant, who was beaten 7-3 by Daryl Gurney in his appearance as a contender 12 months ago, is one of two players set for Premier League debuts in 2020, with UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall rewarded for his superb performances that have seen him break into the world’s top eight.
The 49-year-old will kick off the tournament against 2018 finalist Michael Smith on Night One in Aberdeen, although a week later he takes on former BDO colleague Sherrock, who will become the first female to compete in the sport’s biggest roadshow.
Sherrock made history by becoming the first woman to register a win at the PDC World Championship last month, following up victory over Development Tour winner Ted Evetts by sensationally dumping out 11th seed Mensur Suljovic, before eventually succumbing to Chris Dobey.
The winner of the clash between Sherrock and Dobey was guaranteed a meeting with Durrant in the last 16, although ‘Duzza’ admitted ahead of the tussle that he was keen avoid ‘The Queen of the Palace’, claiming: “I don’t think I want to play Fallon in front of this crowd.”
Nevertheless, that’s the prospect that awaits Durrant when the Premier League roadshow rolls into Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on February 13, and the three-time world champion insisted the partisan atmosphere will provide a huge test of his mental strength.
“The travelling and being away from home, is the only thing that concerns me [about the Premier League]” said Durrant. “Playing in front of 12,000 is not a fear factor. The other fear factor is seeing the fixtures and I’ve got to play Fallon.”
“That will test every bit of mental strength I have. It’s another challenge. She’s the weakest challenger but it’s the most difficult match. That’s absolutely nothing against Fallon but when you look at the other players, Bunting, Henderson, Dobey, Fallon is the weakest player.
“But when you incorporate the crowd and the media interest, it suddenly becomes a game none of the Premier League players will have wanted. I’ve got to deal with it. I’ve got to deal with a huge crowd booing me, which has never happened before, but that’s all part of the challenge.
“I must win that game and get off to a good start. The Premier League has finished players off, I don’t intend for that to happen. Every player every Thursday night will have to play well to beat me.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC