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Van Barneveld: I nearly quit darts after Week 5 in the Betway Premier League

20 May | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Van Barneveld: I nearly quit darts after Week 5 in the Betway Premier League

Dutch star speaks exclusively on how he almost called time on glittering career after Huybrechts loss in Exeter

For Betway Premier League trophy holder Raymond ‘Barney’ van Barneveld, this Thursday’s visit to London’s O2 Arena – the final stop on the 16-week tour – will no doubt hold fond memories.

Crowned champion here 12 months ago after an emphatic 10-6 victory over tournament favourite Michael van Gerwen, the 2007 king of the world was once again a major winner.

Now, he’ll be looking to do it all again as he defends his title against current world champion Gary Anderson, rising star Dave Chisnall and of course, his ‘Mighty’ compatriot, MvG.

But had it not been for an unlikeliest of turnarounds in fortune midway through this Betway Premier League season, the competition might have been the last we’d see of the ever-popular Dutchman at a PDC oche.

Heading into Week 5 at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter, with RvB having taken just three points from his opening four matches, the man from The Hague found himself in a lowly seventh place in the table.

He was up against Premier League debutant Kim Huybrechts, who despite having only secured a single point in the competition himself thus far, went into the clash with a strong head-to-head record in matches played against van Barneveld.

“I’d never beaten Kim.” Barney recalls. “I’d played him six times before and he’d always beaten me.”

In the match, the opener of that evening, the Dutchman started strongly, taking the first leg.

He then let slip a glorious chance for a 2-1 lead in the third when presented with the opportunity of landing the first Premier League nine dart finish in over two years, and it was here the game began to turn against him.

“I was playing really well in those first two legs, and then I missed a nine darter on 12 in the third leg. Then Kim went mad.

Missing that nine darter was crucial.

I was suddenly 6-1 down. I then came back to 6-5 and I was hoping for a draw, but then he hits 170 for the match.

After that, I went on RTL7 [Dutch TV] and I had tears in my eyes. I was really thinking about quitting the game. Really. I was thinking ‘after the Premier League, that’s it. I’m done.”

In the week that followed, van Barneveld fell to a crushing 9-1 exit to Peter Wright at the UK Open, and would then go on to bruising 7-3 defeat by James Wade on his return to the Betway Premier League stage the following Thursday in Nottingham.

“I went back really depressed. I was thinking ‘What am I doing here? I’m the holder, the defender, and everyone is playing so well against me.

Adrian Lewis, Week 1, 113 [average]. Kim Huybrechts 105. Wade 97. Everyone is playing better against me.”

At the close of play on Week 6, Barney languished joint-bottom of the table on points, and Betway traders had pushed the reigning champion out to an unthinkable 100/1 to retain his crown at the end of the tournament.

With three weeks until Judgement Night in Manchester (the point at which the bottom two players are eliminated from the competition) the Dutchman was deep in a survival dog fight and his fixture list didn’t appear kind…

“It was tough. I’m not saying in the first 5 or 6 weeks I had easy matches, because I didn’t, but in the three weeks [after Nottingham] I had Taylor, van Gerwen and Gary Anderson. And they are the number 1, 2 and 3 players.

But then, I stood up, I beat Phil. He had an amazing average, 116 [115.8 – the highest ever televised losing average] but I beat him. I just can’t explain, in one week it all changed.

I lost to Michael [in Week 8 in Dublin], but got a draw against Gary and survived Judgement Night.

I think from Week 7 to Week 9 is when I started playing well again. I started to re-believe in myself.

I came back from nowhere, I had my back against the wall and maybe I needed that to stand up again and play well.

As of now, I’ve taken 13 points in 7 weeks. Amazing.”

And it has been a massive transformation from a man who looked at one stage as though he was giving up the trophy with a whimper.

The confidence and will to win is clearly back, and at just the right time.

The Dutchman has won all six of his matches post Judgement Night, doing so with a combined average of 97.81.

“I don’t really follow the odds much, although I was 100/1 and I thought was a bit odd.

This is my 10th Premier League and [now] 8 out of the 10 times I’ve been in the playoffs.”

Although you certainly won’t be finding 100/1 anywhere now, van Barneveld still remains the 13/2 outsider as he bids to get his hands on the trophy for a second successive year.

But in the form and mood he’s in right now, would you back against the big Dutchman overturning the odds again?

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