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‘Big Willie’ set to make World Darts Championships debut

With the World Darts Championships gripping darts fans over Christmas, this evening’s session at the Alexandra Palace will be a memorable experience for one Scottish bowler.

25-year-old William Borland, who turned professional in 2019, came within just one game of qualifying for the coveted event last year, but will make his debut this evening (December 17).

William, from West Lothian, earned his big break in January 2020 when he won a two-year PDC Tour Card by finishing eighth on the UK Q School Order of Merit, entitling him to play on the ProTour in 2020 and 2021.

Whilst darts is William’s future, it was in fact bowls which he played first.

A member of East Calder Bowls Club, he started playing in 2006, following in the footsteps of his brother and grandfather, and was crowned Under 18 champion in his first season. He’s won the Vice-President’s Cup twice and also has his name on the club championship trophy.

He also played for the Scottish Under 18 side but says he has never done well in the Scottish Under 25 singles and been able win himself at place at the national championships in Ayr. However, he’s recently changed his bowls to Henselite Classics and admits he is enjoying playing with them more than his previous Tiger set.

Now ranked just outside the top 50 in the darting world, William’s meteoric rise started in West Lothian in the local district leagues, and he won the Scottish Masters Singles championship at just 20-years-old, adding his name to a winners’ list that includes the likes of Gary Anderson and Jocky Wilson.

At aged 21, he made his television debut playing in the BDO World Trophy where he reached the last 16 and won himself a three-year sponsorship deal with Winmau. The PDC then came calling and William is delighted to be there and now just wants to get back playing to consolidate his place at the pinnacle of darts.

William said: “The first year you just have to find your feet to see exactly where you are. You don’t want to be expecting big things right at the start. I am just gaining experience and taking things in, but I have had a couple of big scalps against Darren Webster, Simon Whitlock and Michael van Gerwen.

“Of course, it is a step up because you are going from playing people with low 90 averages to players with high 90s or 100s averages. Sometimes you can even lose with 100 averages so it is a massive step up, but I have been taking it on and learning a lot.”

It is darts however which takes up most of William’s time now, practicing for five or six hours a day. Bowls has had to take a back seat, but he still tries to play as much as he can, including the club’s top 10 event.

“My aim is to become one of the best darts players in the world,” says William, “but it is very hard. There’s a lot of people wanting to do the same and it is dog eat dog sometimes.

“My hero in the darts world is definitely Gary Anderson. He’s a fellow Scot and I’ve met and spoke to him a few times. Michael Van Gerwen and Daryl Gurney are also up there.

“It’s great to be able to play against players at the top of their game because that’s how I’m going to learn and gain experience.”

Right-handed, William, who has the nickname Big Willie plays with 24-gram darts and his walk-on music is Radio Gaga by Queen.

He added: “I’ve had a few texts from Alex ‘Tattie’ Marshall congratulating me on my darts which has been great. I’ve never played against him on the bowls green, but I watched him play on TV plenty of times.

“All the boys in the bowls club are always asking me about my darts when I’m there and how I am getting on which I love.

“I really do enjoy the social side of bowls. I get on great with the guys at the club. I love the friendlies and going away to play and have a few drinks. The players are all so easy to get on with.

“You have to have a level head to play darts just like bowls and I think I’ve been able to bring that into my bowls now I’ve been playing darts more.

“It’s great to have the guys at the bowls club behind me and it’s good to be able to go to the green and play to take my mind off darts if things aren’t going well.”

Like bowls, William’s passion for darts is something of a family affair. He started to play in 2008 and he developed his game alongside his brother, cousins and uncles.

He added: “Everybody in my family played darts, my brother, cousins and uncles and it was basically a big family orientated thing.

“When I was younger and growing up I would be going away with my brother to play local county games and that is kind of what got me into it.

“Then obviously as I was finding out that I was not bad at the game and practicing all the time, I just kept at it and here I am today.”

Borland will make his World Championship debut this evening against English youngster, Bradley Brooks. The match is available to watch live on Sky Sports at approximately 8pm following the conclusion of the first match in this evening’s session.