IT was a festive period like no other in 2020 especially for someone representing Bradford on the biggest stage of them all.

Wyke star Joe Cullen was preparing for the biggest game of his life this time last week, about to face then-number one Michael Van Gerwen in the last 16 of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Despite losing 4-3 in a final leg shootout, 'The Rockstar' certainly lived up to the pressure putting in a career-best performance.

It gained plaudits from some huge names around the sporting and showbiz world, providing a solid platform to build on going into 2021.

He said: "I was devastated afterwards and in the days after but the attention that I got on social media is rare to get when losing a game. My stock has risen in that sense.

"I knew I was involved in a good game but when professional footballers and people like Stephen Fry tweet about it you realise just how special it was.

"I am not going to rest on my laurels, I want to continue my good form going into next year."

Round four is the furthest Cullen has ever reached at the worlds in 11 attempts so that is another positive which can be taken.

"My mindset was different this time. I had been in good form before, but it had been in patches, this was a sustained run of good form. I was confident.

"Wayne (Jones) is not the player he once was so it was a favourable draw. I tried not to be too complacent and it was nice to get it done in straight sets.

"Me and Jonny (Clayton) are roommates on the European Tour, so it was all laughing and joking before and after the game but while we were on it we both gave it some because we wanted to win so desperately.

"I have had good results everywhere I have played, except the worlds, so I have put that to bed now."

The Bradfordian was on the cusp of knocking Van Gerwen out after taking a commanding lead and having a couple of match darts. He explains what went wrong.

"Michael is one of the few players in the world that even 3-1 down in a race to four, he is still as dangerous as he was in set one.

"Maybe I took my eye off the ball in the sixth set. I maybe subconsciously thought about winning which was to my detriment at the end.

"The last leg I had the throw (to win the match). Some say I bottled it, but I did not. If anything, I tried too hard.

"I thought to myself, I have been on this stage for two hours thrown everything at him, don’t blow it now. I tried to force the issue when my game was about letting things happen.

"I will learn from that. When I am in that position again, I think I will deal with it better."

Before the conclusion of the tournment, the 31-year-old made a fantastic gesture by auctioning off the shirt he wore against the Dutchman to help fellow West Yorkshireman Rob Burrow in his brave battle with Motor Neurone Disease.

A bid of £1400 won the prized item and was donated to the fundraising campaign 'Burrow Seven'.

Gerwyn Price went on to capture the Sid Waddell trophy, with a 7-3 final win over Scot Gary Anderson, and Cullen took inspiration from the victory.

The world number 16 added: "I fancied Gezza as soon as Michael went out (to Dave Chisnall in the quarters).

"It should have been more comfortable than what he made it but as he said you don’t know until you get there, he said he had never felt nerves like that.

"I hope in the not too distant future I will be feeling nerves like that myself."

Thoughts now turn to the Unibet Premier League. With only nine players confirmed in the 10-man line-up, it will be all to play for at the Ladbrokes Masters later this month.

Cullen said: "The Premier League is different this year. There is probably three names who wouldn’t have normally been picked but due to circumstances they can’t be left out.

"If I can put a performance in (at the Masters) then who knows.

"I have dwelled on trying to get in the Premier League for the last two-three years and it has done me no good.

"I will play in it at some point whether it be this year or not."