James Richardson was delighted to be back on the live darts stage last weekend.
The Rushden player earned a place in the Unibet European Championship at the Ethias Arena in Hasselt, Belgium after finishing in the top 32 on the PDC’s European Tour order of merit.
In the event, which was screened live on ITV4 and was eventually won by world number one Michael van Gerwen, Richardson landed a 158 checkout on his way to beating Jamie Caven 6-3 in the first round.
But his hopes were ended in the last 16 when he was beaten 10-4 by Kyle Anderson.
The Australian took seven of the opening eight legs with some fine doubling to leave Richardson trailing, with only a solitary double four putting the world number 78 on the scoreboard.
The Northamptonshire ace hit back on double five in leg nine, but Anderson followed up tops with a 180 and double eight as he moved 9-2 up.
Finishes of 75 and 60 for Richardson, plus his first maximum of the game, kept his hopes alive briefly, but any chance of a fightback was ended as Anderson followed his fifth 180 with a 68 finish to seal his last eight place.
And, despite that loss, Richardson was able to reflect on a good couple of days.
“It was a brilliant experience and great to be back on the live stage,” he said.
“The results didn’t go my way but it was great to get there. It took a lot of hard work over 10 tournaments throughout the year to earn my place.
“The win over Jamie was pleasing. He is in the top 32 and I was ranked 70-odd going into the tournament so to beat him was great.”
There is one more piece of business for Richardson this year and that comes on November 28 when he will bid to earn a place in the William Hill World Championship at the PDPA Qualifier in Wigan.
The World Championship gets under way at the Alexandra Palace on December 15.
And Richardson added: “It’s make or break and I will be up for it.
“It’s one of those occasions where you just have to go and give it everything and I will do all I can to get through.”