"It’s like you can reach out and touch people" - Nathan Aspinall on the great atmosphere at the World Matchplay

The World Matchplay gets underway next Saturday at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Nathan Aspinall starts this tournament as the reigning champion, after beating Jonny Clayton 18-6 in last year's final.

Aspinall, currently ranked number five in the world, will take on Luke Woodhouse in his opening match. "I need to be on my game or he’ll beat me, simple as that.”

The 32-year-old Englishman invariably enters the stage to the tune of "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers, something he says is even more special at the Winter Gardens. "Everyone knows all the words and they sing along because it’s a predominently English and Scottish crowd. It’s so compact in there, and because the building is old, it echoes and I love it. The sound it produces is unbelievable. For me when you play in the likes of Premier League places, Minehead, the crowd feels miles away, but in Blackpool it’s like you can reach out and touch people. I love it."

nathan aspinall
Nathan Aspinall looks for his third PDC major in Blackpool


Aspinall is accompanied at the World Matchplay by his wife and children. "When I play here we rent a house in Lytham and on days off we go to the Pleasure Beach, to the circus, up the tower and the kids spend all their money on the arcades. It’s a great place and in July the weather’s usually okay and it’s nice to go for a walk round."

A solid competitor to Aspinall for the overall win will surely be Luke Littler, although he needs to get past Michael van Gerwen in the first round to begin with. Littler has ensured that darts has seriously gained popularity in recent months. Although Aspinall is not yet noticing that in an increase in prize money at tournaments.

"I’ve noticed it in other ways like sponsorships, exhibitions, social media....there’s been a massive influx of 13 to 17-year-olds into darts, and that’s something that the sport needs. It’s been predominently seen as a pub sport where people drink all the time, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now there’s academies set up and we need to seize on the interest. Kids should be asking themselves if they’re the new Luke Littler," he concluded.

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