Big Interview: At sharp end of darts and Gerwyn Price has no regrets

The venue for Gerwyn Price’s meet-and-greet in Wolverhampton could hardly have been more fitting.

Selco Builders Warehouse on the Stafford Road. For not only is the Welshman a DIY enthusiast, he is also building a hugely successful second sporting career, writes Nick Elwell.

The 34-year-old was taking on the punters at Selco, who are an official partner of the PDC, to help promote the Grand Slam of Darts starting today.

And Price proved to be a popular draw, with a steady stream of locals, and a few from further afield, taking to the oche to test their skills against the world number five.

Price cut a relaxed figure, a bit different to the feisty, fired up character that has caused quite a stir in the world of darts, as he hit trebles and bullseyes for fun. But returning to Wolverhampton brings back happy memories for the former rugby player. It was at this tournament 12 months that he gained his first major victory when he overcame Scotland’s Gary Anderson in a controversial final at Aldersley Leisure Village.

As well as some high-quality darts, the shootout saw the players push the boundaries of sportsmanship.

The Darts Regulation Authority launched an investigation into the behaviour of both players which resulted in Price being fined £21,500 – subsequently reduced on appeal to a total of £11,500 – for ‘bringing the sport into disrepute and gamesmanship’ in the final and in his quarter-final clash with Simon Whitlock.

Price was also given a three-month ban, suspended for six months, while Anderson received a formal warning for pushing his opponent on the oche.

The Welshman’s victory was greeted with boos as he collected the Eric Bristow Trophy, but the reception couldn’t detract from a breakthrough success.

And now he is ready to launch a strong defence of his title and hopefully muscle his way into the world’s top four.

“Yeah, it’s pretty good to be back,” he said. “I played pretty well in most of the games last year and I am just looking forward to playing well again.

“Hopefully I can get to the final again and get a bit better reaction after it!”

As for any regrets over what happened 12 months ago, ‘The Iceman’s’ response is straight to the point.

“No. Nothing at all,” he says. “I play the same game every time, as I have done in every other event and as I will in this one. I am just going to go out and enjoy myself and see what happens.

“Sometimes it can fire you up (crowd reaction), but sometimes it can get on top of you as well and it can be a bit of a pain in the backside. But I will just do the best I can and see what happens.”

Gerwyn Price (in light blue, overall winner) and Gary Anderson (Dark top)

Price’s Slam success capped a special couple of weeks, although his preparation for the event saw him downing a few doubles as opposed to hitting a few on the practice board.

“I got married last year on the Friday and then played my first game on the Saturday. I played Andrew Gilding, how I won that game, I don’t know,” laughs Price. “It was a good week all round and the wedding ring was a good omen I think. Hopefully I can match it.”

Wife Bethan will be proudly watching on from their home in Markham, South Wales, as her hubby aims to continue his rapid rise up the world rankings.

Price has only been playing professionally for five years after giving in to the persistence of former Wales player Barrie Bates and trying his luck in Qualifying School.

Rugby had dominated Price’s thoughts prior to that – and he was pretty good at that as well.

He enjoyed an impressive career that saw him ply his trade for Neath, Cross Keys and Glasgow Warriors.

He even featured for Cross Keys in their Swalec Cup final victory over Pontypridd at the Millennium Stadium in 2012. “I always played rugby,” said the 34-year-old. “I had played a little bit of super league darts on Wednesdays in local clubs and pubs for about a year-and-a-half, but that was about it, nothing major.

“I met Barry Bates along the way at a few local tournaments and he said I should go to Q School. I turned it down a couple of times, but he twisted my arm and made me go and the rest is history.

“I got my tour card on the second day.

“I was getting paid to play rugby, I was doing that semi-pro and I hadn’t really had time to give darts a crack. But when I did, I realised the money was a lot better and I chucked the rugby.”

So did rucking and mauling prepare him in any way for the oche?

“I have been asked that question loads of times, but I don’t think I bring anything from rugby apart the will to win, determination and my passion, that’s about it.” he said.

“You are up on that stage on your own, you have got nobody there to help you out if you are playing bad.”

With Price having made such an impact in a small amount of time, you could be forgiven for thinking that he spends hours honing his skills. Wrong.

“I don’t really practice,” he says. “I have an hour here or there during the day just to keep my arm in. You are away every weekend, so it’s just trying to balance things up. The schedule is that busy and when I go home I am doing a lot of work on the house.”

The mention of home brings us back to the building theme.

In between tournaments, Price gets his escape by renovating houses.

And, unsurprisingly for someone whose close friends claim he is good at everything, he does the bulk of the work himself.

That helps take his mind off darts, but for the next nine days the focus will be on avoiding the wire rather than rewiring, as Price looks to continue his climb up the rankings.

“It would be nice to be number one in the world,” he adds. “Two years ago I didn’t think that was possible, but I believe in myself a lot more now.

“I have been playing well and I think it is possible. Over the last five years I have kept rising gradually and getting into the top four in the world is my aim after this tournament.

“If I get to the quarters, semis, or if I do better than Gary, then I am up to number four. But I think most tournaments are more open than ever.

“The players are a lot better now. Where you used to have maybe the top eight who could play and hit 100 averages, now you have got the top 64 who can do it on their day.

“Most of the players can all hit 10-darters, 11-darters, 12-dart finishes but it’s how you think about the game.

“If you are mentally strong then I think you will be a lot better. And I think that is one of my strengths.”

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