Rob Cross: Wolverhampton has a special place in my heart
Rob Cross revealed that Wolverhampton has a special place in his heart after putting him on the road to being World Champion...writes Phil Lanning.
The Hastings battler returns to the city this weekend for his second appearance at the bwin Grand Slam of Darts.
Cross, 28, takes on Coventry-born Mark McGeeney in his opening group clash tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at the Aldersley Leisure Village - having previously been at the Civic.
But he admitted: “I think Wolverhampton will always have a special place in my heart. The Grand Slam was when I truly believed in myself a year ago.
“I narrowly lost to Michael van Gerwen in the group stage, beat Raymond van Barneveld in the knockout round before losing to MVG again in the quarters. But we had an epic match, I lost 16-13 and when I came off stage I knew I had the game to take on anyone.
“That gave me so much belief so in my mind Wolverhampton is the place I believed I could be World Champion.
“Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect that to happen six weeks later after last year’s Grand Slam. But I knew I had the ability and mental strength after that tournament.”
It’s been far from a bed of roses for Voltage since grabbing the ultimate crown at the Alexandra Palace in January.
He’s reached the semi-finals of the Premier League and quarter-finals of the Masters, UK Open and European Championships.
However, he shrugs off any talk of disappointment. He added: “I’ve always said that winning the World Championship came too early for me.
“If you actually look at my major tournament results, they have improved on last year. Take the world title win out of the equation, and I’m still progressing like I should be.
“I’m getting used to more travelling and a more difficult practice routine because I’m away so much. But that’s just part of the learning curve.
“Gradually I have found my feet as the year has gone on. It’s now important that I get another boost from playing in Wolverhampton as we get close to defending my World Championship.”
Other Midlands interest in tomorrow’s opening clashes include Stoke’s Ian White taking on Coventry’s ‘Muffin Man’ baker Steve Hine.
The bwin Grand Slam of Darts will be held from November 10-18 at the Aldersley Leisure Village. For tickets, visit www.wolvescivic.co.uk or call 0870 320 7000.