Gerwyn Price secured his first major PDC title with a dramatic 16-13 victory over Gary Anderson in a bad-tempered finale at the Grand Slam of Darts, in one of the most controversial tussles in PDC history.
Price and Anderson have rarely seen eye-to-eye, with ‘The Flying Scotsman’ labelling Price a ‘clown’ earlier this year, and tempers were certainly frayed on the Wolverhampton stage.
‘The Iceman’ registered finishes of 120 and 137 in the early stages, but Anderson soon seized control to move 7-4 ahead. However, Price responded by reeling off four straight legs to edge ahead and the pair exchanged words in the 15th leg, with Anderson confronting the Welshman over his antics.
The two-time world champion continued to voice his displeasure at Price’s conduct, but the Scot stormed into a 12-9 lead with some vintage darts, and he appeared poised to secure his fourth major title of 2018, following his UK Open, World Matchplay and Champions League of Darts triumphs earlier this year.
Nevertheless, Price displayed the same resilience that saw him overturn deficits against Simon Whitlock and Mensur Suljovic to secure the biggest victory of his career to date. The Welshman won seven of the remaining eight legs to prevail; averaging 96.70, landing five maximums and converting 52% of his attempts at a double.
However, matters came to a head in the penultimate leg. Price had won three consecutive legs to move 14-13 ahead and fired in a majestic 174 to put Anderson’s throw under pressure. The former Rugby star celebrated in his trademark boisterous fashion; thrusting himself towards Ando as he approached the oche.
The Scot nudged Price out of the way but the Welshman stood firm; winning the next two legs to prevail and clinch the first ever Eric Bristow Trophy. The presentation was temporarily delayed as Anderson stormed off stage, and ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was not interviewed by Sky Sports after the clash.
This was the pair’s fourth televised meeting, with Anderson having won the previous three tussles. Despite this, in a fiery post-match interview with Sky Sports’ Rod Studd, Price claimed he knew he’d beat Anderson, because the Scot ‘can’t handle’ playing him.
“I knew when he beat Michael [Van Gerwen] that I was going to beat him, simple. He can’t handle playing me. He just moans every time that I’m doing this, doing that. Concentrate on your own game. I’m throwing my darts. He needs to wait for his turn, hold back. He doesn’t like it with a little bit up him,” Price said.
The 2017 UK Open finalist won 11 of the last 13 legs of his semi-final tussle against Mensur Suljovic and he insisted he always felt comfortable chasing the game. “I was probably chasing the game all the way through, but I didn’t mind. I knew if I put him under pressure he was going to crack, and he did.
“This trophy means a lot to me. It’s the first ever trophy named after Eric [Bristow] so nobody can take that away from me. I’ll go down now in history as the first ever player to win this, so happy days,” the Welshman added.
The reaction Price received by the packed crowd at the Aldersley Leisure Village was almost unprecedented. Whilst the boos during his walk-on were of a pantomime nature, by the latter stages of the contest, the Wolverhampton faithful made their feelings known about Price’s behaviour, but he wasn’t fazed in the slightest.
“Sometimes the crowd are with you, sometimes they’re against you. If the crowd are against you, you have to feed off that and I think this week – two or three times they were against me and it makes me play better, so next time, just boo a little bit more.”
It’s been an impressive rise to prominence for the 33-year-old, who only began playing professionally in 2014. He was eliminated from the Premier League on debut earlier this year, having failed to win any of his nine fixtures. Despite this, he’s bounced back superbly and is now in the world’s top eight for the first time in his career.
“I’m loving it up on that stage playing against the best players in the world. Five or six years ago I was a rugby player. Now I’m pinching money out of the professionals’ pockets, so happy days,” Price added.
Nevertheless, ultimately this was a contest that will be remembered for the controversy, rather than the darts itself. Some players and fans alike took to social media to criticise Price, although the series of incidents appeared to divide opinion. One thing’s for sure, this is a rivalry destined to rumble on.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Not sure Gerwyn Price suits the PDC perhaps he would be better suited to WWE … @OfficialPDC
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) November 18, 2018
Children who like darts, I hope you have not seen this final! Go show more embarrassing! This is not good for children!
— Cristo Reyes (@CristoReyes180) November 18, 2018
Congratulations @Gezzyprice and you do need some credit mate. Well done and same PRICE perc.
— Bobby George (@BobbyGeorge180) November 18, 2018