United fan Dobey set for Premier League Darts debut
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Bedlington darts player Chris Dobey returned to his beloved St. James’ Park yesterday ahead of the opening night of the PDC’s Premier League at the Utilita Arena in Newcastle.
28-year-old Dobey has enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence since joining the PDC circuit in 2015, reaching the quarter finals of the Grand Slam of Darts the following year, making the same stage of the Players Championship in 2018, and – just recently – embarking on a fine run to the last 16 of the World Championship at the Alexandra Palace, where he was edged out by two-time champion Gary Anderson in a thrilling encounter.
Anderson’s withdrawal from this year’s Premier League – a round-robin tournament featuring the world’s top players, held in a different city each week – has resulted in a late tweak to the usual format, with Dobey one of nine new faces given the chance to take to the stage in the Scotsman’s place.
Tonight, he will take on Austrian Mensur Suljovic in front of a hometown crowd, with up to 8,000 people expected to be watching on.
Dobey joined the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross and Raymond van Barneveld at the PDC’s press event at St. James’ Park, and the boyhood United fan told nufc.co.uk of his shock at being given the chance to realise one of his biggest sporting ambitions at such short notice.
“It was an amazing feeling. When I got the phone call, I had the little one out at the trampolining place. I was shocked, to be honest, and overwhelmed,” he said. “It’s a big thing, being in the Premier League and playing at Newcastle – in front of all of my mates, really. I’ve been there the past few years to watch it, and I said that I’d love to play in front of a home crowd. Now’s my chance to do it, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the likes of us nine players. I love playing on the big stage – my main game is on the big stage – and hopefully, in the next year or so, I can become a permanent player in the Premier League.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Dobey – once on the books at both Bedlington Terriers and Blyth Spartans as an aspiring footballer – took his seat at St. James’ Park on a regular basis as a season ticket holder in the Leazes End.
Becoming a professional darts player, however, has meant that his visits to the ground are relatively few and far between nowadays, though his allegiance to the Magpies remains firmly set in stone.
“I was maybe six or seven when I came to my first game,” he recalled. “I’ve just been brought up that way. My uncle, my dad and my mam have all been Newcastle, and my cousins had season tickets for years and years. They’re from Milton Keynes and we ended up taking over their tickets, and we sat up in Level Seven – just three seats away from the away fans, so we gave each other some stick! I loved it, but as time got on I couldn’t get to as many games and I had to give it up.
“I’ve managed to get to a few games in the last few weeks – there’ve been some good ones and some bad ones, but that’s just typical Newcastle! I love the club and I’ll always love the club.”
We’ll be featuring more from Chris in the next edition of UNITED – our official matchday programme – available for the visit of Huddersfield Town on 23rd February.
"It’s a big thing, being in the Premier League and playing at Newcastle – in front of all of my mates, really. I’ve been there the past few years to watch it, and I said that I’d love to play in front of a home crowd. Now’s my chance to do it, so I’m looking forward to it."