A Star is Thorn

By Jethro Bremner-Allison 14/02/2021

IT’S hard to believe that Robert Thornton is battling to save his PDC Tour Card at the end of this year. On his day, The Thorn has the ability to beat anyone in the world and he’s proved that with major wins over Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen. Matches north of the border, we remember with great fondness.

Cast your mind back to 2012. Back in the days before every tournament had a bookmaker sponsor, it was the FA Cup of Darts, the Speedy Services UK Open. An incredible 177 players arrived at the Reebok Stadium with Taylor favourite as always. Fast forward to the end of the week and Taylor had taken his expected berth in the final, cruising his way through the rounds. Standouts of these were Colin Osbourne disposed mercilessly 9-1 in Round 4 and poor Dennis Ovens raced out of the door in the semi finals 10-2. In the opposite corner was self-effacing Scotsman, Robert Thornton.

Only six months after a dreadful dose of pneumonia, he hadn’t been on anyone’s potential list heading into the tournament. On top of this, his run to the final had been treacherous to say the least. He joined the competition in Round 3 sneaking through 9-7 vs former World Champion Mark Webster before wins over Gary Anderson (9-7), Dennis Priestley (9-5), Wes Newton (10-8) and in the semi-finals Dave Chisnall (10-4).

Rewatching the final now, you’re immediately taken back to how unlikely a Thornton win will be. Pundits stroking their chins are searching for any little crumb of hope. How he can even take a few legs off the already 15 times champion of the world? Thornton appears at the end of the runway looking tense. Hunched shoulders and that familiar good luck bear crammed into his top pocket. The crowd react as always to the Proclaimers and he silently mutters “come on” several times as he moves gingerly onto the stage. Phil on the other hand strolls out like a rockstar. Sporting a union jack shirt and a grin, he looks every inch the champion in waiting.

They throw for bull on stage. Phil hits bull, Robert trembles a 25. Phil throws an 11 dart leg to lead. We won’t be here long we collectively assume, Phil fancies it and the confidence is practically oozing out of the Power’s pores. Power breaks in leg two in 12 darts, and the talk is of whether he can reach a 120 average, not whether this will be a match. But the Ayrshire water must have some granite in it as Robert now has a nice familiar feeling on the stage, confidence gained from his run to the final. Thornton sneaks the 3rd leg and shares the next two to trail 3-2 at the first break.

The following stanza, Robert’s eye was in. Despite being put off in leg seven when an enthusiastic punter dived onto the stage, swiftly ejected by the stewards, he didn’t let it touch his concentration. Heavily scoring he seemed to revel in the heat of the battle frequently saluting the crowd to the right of the oche rather than the family section as he always seemed to prefer. The 3-2 reverse springs into a 7-3 lead and the crowd is hushed, the commentators stunned. “The Power just doesn’t lose finals,” Rod Studd utters. But the procession continues, up to 9-3, finally, Thornton is favorite for this major. Taylor battles but he can’t touch the irrepressible Scot who knows today is his time. In the biggest leg of his darting life, the Thorn goes 140, 100, 140, 121 to tidy up the match in brutal style. 11-5. He hugs Taylor as he realises he’s achieved one of his dreams. Across Scotland, fans jumped up off their sofas as that dream became reality.

A great day for Scottish darts, amongst many in the past decade, as Robert stuffed the cheque for £40,000 in his teddy bear pocket.

NEWSLETTER

RedDragon Advert

Related Articles

UK Open 2021: Wade the hattrick hero

The Machine steamrolllers brave Luke Humphries run

UK Open 2021: Day One sees big names tumble

Five World champions fall as Ashton smashes record

Devon Petersen: The sharks are circling MVG

African Warrior questions former World no.1

UK Open 2021: Day two sees resurgent MVG

Price, Wade and Chizzy also through

This website uses cookies to track session information