By Phil Lanning
RAYMOND Van Barneveld grabbed his place back in the PDC and blasted: “I can’t wait to see the Scottish Barney Army again!”
The legendary Dutchman qualified for the last eight of the final day of Q School in Germany to secure enough points to regain the tour card he gave up at the end of 2019.
Barney, 53, will be back amongst the top stars for the Ladbrokes UK Open which starts on March 5th in Milton Keynes.
But the five-times World Champ admits his heart is set on a return to Scotland – after his retirement “hell”.
He said: “I love those fans so much, I can’t wait to play for them again.
“They are amazing, so amazing. They sing my name whether I win or lose. So that would be exciting to perform in Scotland again.
“I think the last year was the most important of my life because I started to think about my career and I saw the things I missed in my life.
“My amazing girlfriend is with me every single time. I’ve missed her for the last 10 days because she wasn’t here. That was not easy.
“This is the end of my hell. But now I have to work harder. I want to go out every day and get fitter and play well for my sponsors and family. I can do this but I know I have to work hard.
“Now I wait for the UK Open. You can qualify but due to the Covid you don’t know when you will play in a big tournament. Today it was in the papers that you can’t fly back from the UK.
“I can’t wait to get back to play the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright. All these great players, I can’t wait to beat them again.”
Barney faced a nervous last day after an early exit from Q School on Tuesday. He needed a decent run to the last eight to make sure of that place.
He added: “Wow, I’ve played so many tournaments in my life, this was really the hardest part of my life ever.
“Last night I was so desperate to do well today, I had a bad run on Tuesday, losing first round. I was really nervous to compete. Everyone was there, my coach, family, Julia, believe in yourself, do this. When I won this second game it was so relief, that one single point.
“In all my life I have accomplished so many wins, so many tournaments, and I would give it all back for that single point. I feel renewed, really good to be back on the Tour. Hopefully next week I can show the world again what Raymond van Barneveld can do.
“I am a winner. I went to my room and I was still angry even when I lost the quarters, I knew I was through, but I was angry as I wanted to win this. I don’t want to win this for myself but also for my team and sponsors. They gave me a good chat. I feel really happy. I have a chance to put myself back on the map. We worked hard every single day. Because of that I have a Tour Card back.
“I am not going to say I will win this or win that, the first target of this year was getting the Tour Card back. I want to qualify for the world championship at the end of the year. That’s my goal. Everything that comes on my path is a bonus.
I am desperate to work even harder now.”
It was a bitter sweet day for Scottish darts with Robert Thornton failing to regain his tour card after 12 years in the PDC. However it was glory for Arbroath’s Alan Souter is secured his place.
Former BDO World Champion Scott Mitchell grabbed his first PDC tour card but ex-World Finalists Kevin Painter missed out and tweeted that he was set to retire from the sport.