Justin Pipe has revealed that he and his family have been subjected to a torrent of abuse over the recent ‘cough gate’ controversy, after he received an extremely volatile reception in his second-round defeat to Phil Taylor at the William Hill World Darts Championship on Saturday evening.
‘The Force’ has been embroiled in huge controversy since defeating New Zealand qualifier Bernie Smith in a dramatic final set in Wednesday’s first-round clash. Footage emerged which appeared to show Pipe coughing behind Smith when he was throwing for the match, but the Taunton ace insists the incident was entirely innocuous.
Pipe was speaking to the PDC’s Dan Dawson after he suffered a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Phil Taylor in round-two on Saturday evening. The four-time major semi-finalist received an extremely hostile reception from a boisterous Ally Pally crowd and was subjected to a series of expletive-ridden chants.
Pipe defied the partisan crowd to establish an early 2-1 lead in the opening set, but after spurning two set darts, ‘The Force’ disintegrated and Taylor reeled off eleven legs in succession to romp to a straight-sets victory. Pipe, who was wearing earplugs, cupped his ears on stage during the walk-on and suffered a tirade of abuse throughout the contest.
Speaking after exiting the tournament, he admitted: “It’s been very hard. I’ve kept my mouth shut. It’s very hard to look back at 2,500 people and say: ‘I’ve got proof that Bernie heard nothing, I didn’t cough and put that across’. I’ve been verbally attacked, abused. My family’s come in for it as well.
“Mardle’s bang out of order for me; it’s totally wrong. You do not jump to the conclusion that somebody has heard something when they haven’t. Bernie Smith didn’t hear anything. I held that cough back, I did not hide my body movements. It was held back. Wayne Mardle cannot wait to jump on to that and he’s bang out of order.
However, Pipe acknowledged the footage doesn’t do his case much good. He admitted: “It looks awful. I said to my wife and children: ‘Wow that looks awful’, but there’s no noise. I held it back. It actually hurt me a little bit to hold it back, just like you do when you’re driving down the road and you’ve got to sneeze and you hold it back. I didn’t hide it.”
“I’ve been playing darts on TV for ten years. I know where the cameras are. I know they’re all around and I know there’s people with microphones on; nobody heard anything. It’s wrong.”
Nevertheless, Pipe is adamant that the abuse or criticism won’t impact his game in the long-term: “No because I wouldn’t let it. My family wouldn’t let it either. We’ve been so united since Thursday evening watching the tirade of abuse. I wasn’t going to let it affect me and I went out there and played the dartboard,
“I didn’t play Phil, I didn’t play the crowd, I just went out there and threw darts. It’s not going to bother me because I’m going to be on twitter. I’ve kept my mouth shut; I’ve said nothing. I’m going to go on twitter which is pretty much a tool for hatred lately. My family has come under loads of abuse, I’ve come under loads of abuse for it.
“I’m going to go on there, I’m going to post the pictures of Bernie’s message to me, saying: ‘I didn’t hear anything bro’. Kyle Anderson knows this; everybody knows it. I’m not worried about. The haters will hate. My family know; all my genuine fans will know, the PDC and everybody involved knows that I did nothing and that’s all that matters to me really.”
Taylor’s farewell campaign continues, but he had some sympathy for Pipe: “Towards Justin, it wasn’t nice. I felt sorry for his family. I could see his wife, his son, and I felt sorry for them. I really did. They were here to support him. He is here to win the world championships like everybody else and it wasn’t nice, I’ll be honest with you.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC