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As I strode up to the oche I regretted not going down the pub to get my eye in – or reaching for a little Dutch courage. Too late now.

Martin ‘Harry Potter’ Shaw – as the MC kindly introduced me – faced world darts champion Michael van Gerwen at Huddersfield Town’s PPG Canalside. And it was far from a wizard performance.

My training for taking on the current world No1 was precisely nil. Well, how do you prepare for such a mismatch when you haven’t thrown an arrow in anger since you were a kid?

Darts was never my game and all I remember is seeing the darts bounce back unceremoniously when I hit the wire.

Surely it was harder to strike the slivers of metal than the board? Not in my case.

So it was against that backdrop that I donned the Dutchman’s luminous green shirt and stepped into the limelight with two leggy beauties on each arm.

Michael was in town to support Birstall-based sponsors Leyland Paints, owned by PPG, and play a number of competition winners in a exhibition match.

When I met Michael beforehand I begged for mercy but he was having none of it.

“People need to play well,” he growled. “I never give anything away.”

With nerves jangling, I put my toe against the oche and pretended I knew what I was doing.

Watched by a modest crowd of around 25 people – it felt more like 2,025 – my heart was thumping, which did nothing for my aim.

Once the razzmatazz introduction was over, I stepped up, took aim – and missed. True to form one dart bounced back and the other two slammed into the rim of the board. Nil points as they say on Eurovision.

I was pretty shocking but I did improve through the 501 contest. Michael, in fairness, was a gent and not as ruthless as he threatened to be.

MC Paul Wilson gave me some proper stick, though. Towards the end he pronounced: “Michael, you require 15. Martin, you require talent!” Can’t argue with that.

As Michael closed in on victory I still needed 259. Wilson, sportingly, allowed me a three dart finish a 2, 5 and a 9 (in any order) but I couldn’t deliver and Michael finally put me out of my misery.

After my ‘heroics’ word soon spread around Canalside and Town boss Chris Powell, assistant manager Steve Thompson, midfielder Jonathan Hogg and others all popped in for a look.

“It’s Michael van Gerwen,” whispered Powell. “I don’t play but I love my darts.”

After I had softened up van Gerwen those following had it easy.

Pub team captain Chris Taylor, 44, who came from Widnes with pal David Sutton, 42, beat Michael, almost fair and square, and said: “I used to be all right when I was younger. I can still beat anyone on my day.”

But it was the Penfold family from Gloucestershire who brought the house down. Rosie, 20, who won a Daily Mirror competition to take part, beat Michael before autistic brother Ben, 17, finished on a double eight to also send Michael packing.

Rosie had a 300-point start but MC Wilson hadn’t finished with me. “She’s better than that journalist,” he boomed.

Rosie’s dad Chris, 55, was also impressive even though he hadn’t played in 25 years.

If only I’d practised first. Still Michael was gracious in victory while Wilson had more advice. “Don’t give up the day job,” he told me.