EDDIE Dootson has said he will realise a dream when he rubs shoulders with the best players in the world, writes Andrew Simpson.

He fulfilled a long-held ambition on Thursday when he became the latest thrower from St Helens to secure a Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) tour card.

And he did so after graduating from Qualifying School, a pre-season tournament that this year attracted close to 450 entries.

“I’ve been playing for more than 40 years and this tops everything I’ve ever done,” said the 56-year-old.

“It’s fantastic, and I’ve shown that I can compete with all these young lads.

“When your heart is in the game, then you can compete and it means the world to me.”

Dootson, a specialist tyre technician, won more matches at Robin Park Tennis Centre this week than during two previous bids to make the cut.

He overcame Matthew Dicken and Cody Harris (both 5-4) in deciding legs before seeing off John Goldie (5-3), David Pallett (5-3), Lee Turle (5-2), Simon Preston (5-4) and Nathan Aspinall (5-2) to complete a memorable day.

His reward is to join Michael Smith, Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting on the PDC ProTour for the next two years.

And Dootson dedicated his success to the first of those, who will return to the Premier League in 2018.

“If it wasn’t for Michael I don’t think I’d be here,” he said.

“We practice together all the time and have taught each other so much.

“When I’m throwing with him and my son Daniel, I just want to compete.

“To get a tour card is unbelievable, a darter’s dream.”

Dootson, who reached the last 16 at the UK Open in 2015, has enrolled at Q School in each of the past four years.

He added: “Hopefully this will spur me on now.

“My next goal is to qualify for the UK Open Finals and get back to Minehead again.”

Play at Q School continues on Friday afternoon, when a further two tour cards are on offer in the UK alongside ranking points for the Q School Order of Merit.