Richardson is feeling confident for the 'Ally Pally'

Rushden's James Richardson is looking forward to the World Darts Championship. Picture courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rushden's James Richardson is looking forward to the World Darts Championship. Picture courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC
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James Richardson is gearing up for his return to the ‘Ally Pally’ stage next week.

The PDC’s William Hill World Darts Championship gets under way at the Alexandra Palace in London today (Thursday).

But Rushden’s Richardson will have to wait until next Thursday (December 21) to get his campaign under way as he takes on world number 18 Kim Huybrechts in the first round.

The clash is a repeat of the second-round match between the two in 2012, which came after Richardson had written his name into darting folklore by shocking five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld with a 3-0 win.

Huybrechts beat Richardson 4-1 in that clash five years ago but the Rushden man believes he has the game to get past him this time.

“I didn’t really know much about Kim when I played him back in 2012 and on that occasion, after beating Raymond, I probably went into the match thinking it would be a bit easier and he ended up beating me,” Richardson, who goes by the nickname ‘Ruthless’, said.

“Obviously, things are different now. I am a different player.

“I think I have the game to beat him but he is an excellent player, you don’t get to where he has been and where he is now without being good.

“To be honest, I am just hoping the crowd will get behind me because it always spurs me on.

“Hopefully they will remember me for what I did back in 2012 and give me their full support.”

Richardson has enjoyed a good year on the PDC Pro Tour and has been practising with his son Josh to prepare for the biggest event on the calendar.

And he insists the week-long wait to play his first-round match is no problem.

“I am glad we are one of the last matches to be played because if I can get through then I can get back home for Christmas and then focus on the second round on December 27,” he added.

“I am feeling good, I am feeling confident and I am in a good mood about it.

“I have been practising with Josh and he has been playing well and pushing me hard so it is now a case of taking that onto the stage.”

The first-round match between Richardson and Huybrechts, like the rest of the tournament, will be screened live on the Sky Sports Darts channel.

Their match will be the second on stage next Thursday evening (from 7pm) with the winner going on to play Alan Norris or Kim Viljanen in the second round.

The tournament will also see legendary 16-time champion Phil Taylor play in the Worlds for the last time before he retires.

He begins his campaign against Chris Dobey tomorrow (Friday).