Birthday boy’s planning to blow away Dutch ace

Paul Nicholson in action
Paul Nicholson in action
From left: Pairs winners Lee Smith and Les Rance, with runners-up Darren Barnes and Darrell Manchip

Portsmouth individuals final is a Barnes-stormer

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Paul Nicholson is ready for a Portsmouth birthday bonanza at the Night of Champions.

And the Aussie ace is planning for his visit to the city tonight to mark a new phase of his career.

The man known as The Asset will be bidding to strip reigning PDC world champion Michael van Gerwen down to size tonight at the Portsmouth Guildhall.

Nicholson takes on the Dutch phenomenon along with fellow heavy hitters James Wade, Robert Thornton and Dennis Priestley.

Cosham’s Andy Jenkins, Arron Monk and Les Wallace lead the local charge in what is set to be an exciting evening of action.

Nicholson will take part in the tournament before switching his attention to another event tomorrow in Stubbington.

The former Players’ Championship winner turns 35 tomorrow and feels he now needs to regain focus to power himself up the PDC rankings.

He reckons turning on the style in Portsmouth, as he makes changes in his career, is the perfect time to do that.

And he acknowledged he’ll be aiming to do that in a city which is fast becoming a ‘hotbed’ for darts.

Nicholson said: ‘These kind of events are pretty special.

‘Portsmouth is becoming a hotbed of darts and these kind of shows now.

‘To be able to attract the talent these events do is a coup for Portsmouth.

‘I’m down for the show and then working on Saturday at the other event.

‘That will be my birthday. I’m not looking for happy birthday to be sung to me, though!

‘It’ll be interesting to see how people are performing.

‘My form has been sporadic.

‘There are a lot of changes going on in my career at the moment.

‘This is a bit of a transitional season for me.

‘I’m trying to shift away the negatives and bring in some other things.

‘I’ve got some new darts and I’ve changed sponsor. It’s about moving on to the next phase of my career.

‘I’m no spring chicken anymore. So now I have to recognise that this is the prime of my career and start taking my chances.’

As ever, there is expected to be a big turnout for the latest Modus Darts-organised event to come to the city.

They have always proved lively affairs in the past.

And Nicholson is expecting tonight to be no different.

The crossover appeal of darts has been evident from the runaway success of the PDC World Championships each year.

Nicholson believes Portsmouth will see a similar kind of spectacle once again.

He said: ‘It’s the best party in town.

‘There will be a lot of noise tonight – and we don’t wear ear plugs!

‘It gives the chance for people in the area to see players of real calibre at close quarters.

‘This sport is all about the entertainment factor now.

‘We are in the mainstream of sport.

‘The comparison between football and darts audiences are close.

‘There are songs and chants every week. It’s a good ice-breaker.

‘It’s exciting. We prefer people singing and chanting in the PDC. We get off on that.

‘It’s rock-and-roll sport and a great product. It’s important to see these people at close quarters.

‘And it is a good way for us to keep our arm in and pit your wits against top players.

‘If you want to try something new or tweak something in your game –this is the place to try it.

‘But we also have fun, put on a show and give people their money’s worth.’