Robert “The Thorn” Thornton rose to darting elite by toppling 15 time world champion Phil “The Power” Taylor. Thornton entered the UK Open facing unsurmountable odds. A preverbial longshot at 250/1 and a battle against pnemonia plus a gauntlet of the world’s best including Mark Webster, Gary Anderson, Dennis Priestley, Wes Newton, Dave Chisnall and, oh yeah, the greatest player ever to chuck the arrows; Phil Taylor.
The 45 year old Scotsman from Stevenston has battled his way to 31st in the world against the best darts has to offer, Thorn reached the third round at the past two World Championships and had been defeated by the eventual winner. Thornton claimed the only major title of his career at the 2007 World Masters.
Sid Waddell proclaims Thorn as the man “…knocked out by illness but regaining the celtic bite which took him to the top”.
Robert first matched up against the 61 yr old, two time World Champion, Dennis Priestley. Even in his sixties, Dennis is still the menace and no easy push over.
Gary Anderson, Wes Newton and Mark Webster are the current cream of the darting crop. Ranked fourth, fifth and ninth in the World respectively. They are the present tense of tungsten. All three could easily be in the Premier League next year. While Mark Webster didn’t have a great tournament. Gary Anderson and Wes Newton were in top form going into their matches with Thornton.
The final also included a bizarre incident in which a member of the audience attempted to storm the stage. He was escorted outside by security. Thornton was mid-chuck, “I heard a big clatter,” he said later.
After all he’d been through. All that had transpired. He simply was not going to allow Phil Taylor to win. He was helped by some astonishingly poor finishing from the Power.
But this weekend was about Robert Thornton, an underdog at the start of the competition, beating not just the best in the business; but everything life threw at him. With a £40,000 purse, he is a guaranteed entrant into the Grand Slam for the next two years.
He’s truly a hero for the working man and anyone who believes they can do anything they set their mind to do.