Gerwyn Price, Wales’ latest darts ace, is set to make his first competitive PDC appearance in front of his home fans in Thursday’s Premier League meeting in Cardiff. Here, Dai Sport’s darts writer, Dylan Williams, looks at Price’s sporting switch from rugby to darts and predicts the Man from Markham will become the fourth Welshman to be crowned King of the Oche.
When you think about the more well-known Welsh names from the world of sport, Gareth Bale, Elinor Barker, Geraint Thomas and Mark Williams are on the tip of your tongue. But in a little corner of one of the South Wales valleys there is a man who’s ruffling some feathers in his sport.
That man is Gerwyn Price or ‘The Iceman’ as he’s known in the world of darts. A nickname that doesn’t really convey the character of the man some would say — who’s anything but frosty on the oche!
Over the years Wales has enjoyed considerable success in the sport, with three world champions over three decades: Leighton Rees (1978), Richie Burnett (1995) and Mark Webster (2008) all capturing the trophy on the Lakeside stage. But this time there is a feeling that something is brewing and that we have a real star on our hands whose ambition is to achieve much more than those that have gone before him.
But a career in darts wasn’t Price’s first taste of the sporting arena. Rugby Union was his first love and he played hooker for Neath RFC and Cross Keys RFC, as well as a stint in Rugby League with the South Wales Scorpions.
Price enjoyed several successful years in the Welsh Premier Division, including an appearance for Cross Keys in the Swalec Cup final against Pontypridd at the Millennium Stadium in 2012. He also held a professional contract with the Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12 for a short period.
His rugby career came to an end in 2014 in order for him to focus on playing darts full-time. Some would say that his rugby career has helped him become the feisty character who is thrilling crowds on the PDC stages across the globe.
Price established himself as one of the players to watch very soon after turning professional in 2014. He was successful at ‘Q School ‘ at the first time of asking, gaining his PDC Tour Card, and he went on to take several high-profile scalps in his first season on the circuit.
By 2015 ‘Gezzy’ was fast becoming a household name thanks to his run to the quarterfinals of the World Matchplay at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool — one of the ‘major’ competitions on the circuit — by knocking out Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis and Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith on the way.
A year later, the Welshman proved his pedigree by claiming his first PDC title, winning two Players Championship tournaments in a row to claim his place in the top 32 PDC Order of Merit. In 2017 he reached his first televised final, losing to Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright in the UK Open Final.
Later that year he partnered Mark Webster while representing Wales in the World Cup of Darts. They reached the final before losing to the Dutch pair of Michael Van Gerwen and Raymond Van Barneveld. Price finished the year strongly reaching the last 16 of the World Championships and securing an invitation to play in the Premier League in 2018.
In September 2018 Price won his first European Tour title by beating Simon Whitlock in the International Open in Riesa.
Two months later Price experienced his biggest success to date by winning his first televised title with a remarkable victory in the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton.
Price beat the ‘Flying Scotsman’ Gary Anderson in a dramatic match which was full of tension. As a result of his conduct during the tournament Price received a fine of £21,500 and ban of three months which was suspended.
Despite all of the controversial headlines Price has started the 2019 season on fire and has established himself as one of the best players in the world.
He won Players Championships five and six over one weekend in February by playing the best darts of his life. He produced consistent 100+ 3-dart averages and clinched the victory in the second final on the Sunday with a 170 finish — better known in the game as ‘the big fish’!
Price was invited once again to play in the Premier League in 2019 and currently lies in the play-off spots following two wins and a draw in the past three weeks.
Later this week the Premier League circus rolls into Cardiff where the man from Markham will take on Michael Smith, who has underachieved so far in this year’s tournament. Price will look to cement his place in the top four with a win in what’ll be his first competitive PDC match in Wales.
In a recent interview, Price said that he intended to play the game professionally until he was 50 years old, so we can expect at least another fifteen years of fireworks and passion from the Welshman!
As a big fan of the sport it’s great to see a local lad making an impression on the world stage, and has done so in such a short space of time.
I’m confident that he continues to progress and build on the bright start to his career that there is a likely Wales will be celebrating the crowning of a fourth World Darts Champion in the near future.