Ronnie Baxter, one of the PDC’s stars of the 2000s, is set to launch an ambitious comeback in 2020.

The Blackpool-born star first played in a world championship 28 years ago, at the Lakeside. He would go on to reach the final twice before a 2002 switch to the PDC. While still in the BDO, he made the World Matchplay final in his hometown – but narrowly lost a classic final to Rod Harrington. More than two decades on from his 1998 run, Baxter appeared at the Winter Gardens and spoke to Dutch television channel RTL 7.

Baxter, who hasn’t played competitively for a year, has promised to return soon.

“I’m just taking a year off at the moment,” said the 58-year-old.

“Just trying to recollect and get things together again. I have a little bit of an injury, so I’m working on that.

“Hopefully I’m going to get back for next year.”

Ronnie Baxter’s one – and only – championship dart in the 1998 World Matchplay final.

Fond memories

Baxter established himself as one of the top players in the game, but also somewhat of a nearly man. While he made at least the semi-finals of almost every TV tournament in the PDC and BDO, no promising run ever converted itself into silverware. His closest brush with victory was in the 1998 World Matchplay final, where he missed one match dart and surrendered a lead to lose against Harrington. Baxter insisted that his darting memories are purely positive.

“I’ve always loved this place,” said Baxter in the bowels of the Winter Gardens.

“I’ve lived here as well, for the last 10 years, so I just want to get back on that stage.

“Not really [thinking about the 1998 final]. I can think about all the rest – the semi-finals, last eight, last 16, the first round.

“There’s many years behind me at this place. I’ve always loved it.

“I’m not a watcher, I’m more of a player. I do watch now and again, just to relax, and see what I’m missing.”

Return

Baxter admitted that he’s missing the game “a hell of a lot”.  The passion to play hasn’t died down, despite his many years in darts. And it’s likely that, soon enough, darts fans will see Ronnie Baxter’s name on some tournament entry lists.

“I love the game, I’ve been doing it for 30-odd years.

“A year off isn’t going to kill me!”

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Author: Ed McCosh