Beaton buoyant ahead of Gurney clash

Steve Beaton (Simon O'Connor/PDC)

Steve Beaton will return to the Alexandra Palace stage this afternoon, as he battles two-time quarter-finalist Daryl Gurney for a place in the third round of the Paddy Power World Darts Championship.

Beaton - featuring in his 23rd consecutive PDC World Championship - is eyeing a place in round three of the sport's showpiece event for just the second time since 2005.

However, his clash against Gurney comes just days after he declared his intention to retire at end of the 2024 season, following over 30 years as a professional.

Speaking after his first round victory over Dutch debutant Wessel Nijman, Beaton revealed: “I thought this year was probably going to be my last, but I started off [2023] really well and I was in the Matchplay.

“I’ve kept my Tour Card this year and I’m in the World Championship, and I will do another year now.

"I honestly thought this was going to be my last year, but things like the other night really encourage me and you think: 'Well you aren't finished yet', and that’s what keeps me going.

“I think next year will definitely be my last. However this tournament goes I’m 60 next year and it’s [Pro Tour circuit] a gruelling circuit.

"I’ve been married for 30 odd years now and my wife hardly sees me. I’m only home half the year and people don’t seem to understand how much you have to do to carry on with the darts.”

Beaton hit five maximums en route to dispatching the dangerous Nijman, and the former Lakeside Champion was full of praise for the 23-year-old newcomer.

“He is such a good player; I’ve got total respect for him, and he played really well," Beaton claimed.

“He just did not miss early on; he’s a great player and I think he’ll be around for a long while to come.

“I’m glad I’ve had a difficult game , because I didn’t want an easy game first. I’ve had a tough test, and I know I’m going to have another tough game against Daryl.

‘The Bronzed Adonis’ is competing in an astonishing 33rd consecutive World Championship, and the darting icon has revealed the secrets behind his longevity in the sport.

“I still get the same buzz walking on stage. Walking up there with that crowd is unbelievable and that’s what you play for," insisted the 59-year-old.

“You’re not going to get that buzz anywhere else, and they don’t let me down. They were great against Wessel - the support was unbelievable.

“I also try to keep fit. When I am home I’ve got a bike, I try to go cycling and then I go to the gym and swim.

"I honestly think if I didn’t do that then I wouldn’t still be playing now. You’ve got to keep looking after your body and keep trying.”

Beaton locks horns with two-time TV title winner Gurney in the afternoon's finale, and although he's expecting a difficult assignment, he's buoyed by his impressive opening round display.

"It was definitely one of my best performances on stage in a while," continued the veteran.

“I’m going to go into the next game hopefully confident and knowing I’m going to do the business, but I’ve played Daryl loads of times and I know how capable he is.”

Gurney is hoping to follow his compatriot Brendan Dolan into the third round, having succumbed to Scottish star Alan Soutar in his Alexandra Palace opener 12 months ago.

2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship
Saturday December 23
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
4x Second Round

Kim Huybrechts v Richard Veenstra (R2)
Callan Rydz v Ricardo Pietreczko (R2)
Jonny Clayton v Steve Lennon (R2)
Daryl Gurney v Steve Beaton (R2)