Australia’s top darts player Simon Whitlock is often seen appearing in Portsmouth when he’s not firing his arrows in big televised tournaments.
The aptly-nicknamed Wizard of Oz, left his homeland seven years ago and immediately made an impact on the professional tour, reaching two World Championship finals and soaring up the rankings.
The ‘beard to be feared’ settled in Waterlooville, where he practises at home, so tonight’s Showdown in Southsea at the Pyramids Centre is somewhat bizarrely a home affair for the man from Down Under.
And Whitlock, who is a former European champion – a title not often held by Australian sportsmen, is hoping to turn on the style in front of local fans.
‘I’m really looking forward to tonight,’ said the former world number four.
‘It’s not often you get the chance to play on stage in front of a crowd so close to home and I want to give something back to the many people who’ve been good to me by putting on a brilliant display of darts.
‘I’ve played in a few local opens and tournaments over the past year or so for a bit of extra practice, met some great people and come up against some really good darts players.
‘I know how big darts is to people in this part of the world.
‘It is great that they can have the likes of Raymond van Barneveld and Bobby George coming to town.
‘They are true legends of the sport.
‘We are all really looking forward to the event.’
Tonight’s Showdown in Southsea sees Whitlock compete against van Barneveld, three-time world champion Martin Adams, former players champion Paul Nicholson, former world youth champion Keegan Brown and Cosham’s Andy Jenkins in a professional exhibition for the title.
Top female star Fallon Sherrock and the legendary King of Bling, George, will also be appearing in the event along with local qualifiers.
Home favourite Jenkins became something of a social media star on Wednesday, following the announcement of his contract renewal with promoters and management company MODUS.
Darts fans were posting the hashtag #JenksIsBack in support of his bid to revive his career.
Jenkins will have plenty of support from the vociferous Pompey crowd but Whitlock hopes that he won’t be short of a fan or too either.
‘This is the place I call home now,’ he added.
‘I’m often humbled by the amount of support I’ve received locally and I hope a few of them will be out there cheering me on tonight.
‘It really would mean the world to me.’
Limited tickets are still available by calling 08450 180 180 or via dartshop.tv.
Tickets are also available on the door at tonight’s show.