Russ Bray: Crowd’s return a delight

Our columnist Russ has just notched up his 25th year refereeing and officiating at PDC world championships. ‘The Voice’, as Russ is known, has also played a strong role in promoting the game for over a quarter of a century. The PDC affiliated Asian tour has been a particular passion of Russ’s and its success is a credit to him.

Here is Russ’s most recent Darts World column for Issue 572:

FIRST and foremost, I hope everyone is fit and well and keeping safe. What a fabulous couple of months of darts we have had, especially with the world in the current state it is in. I have been involved with the Premier League, International Darts Championships, European Darts Championships, World Cup of Darts and as I write this, the Grand Slam here in Coventry. And a tasty little sideline, there was also the HomeTour and Autumn Series streamed to our computers and tablets.

’ll start with the Premier League finals at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry which saw Glen Durrant make his first PDC TV title win with an 11-8 victory over Nathan Aspinall, having beaten Gary Anderson in the semi-final with a last leg 10-9 victory. Nathan got to the final with a 10-7 win over current World Champion Peter Wright. Considering there was no crowd, the atmosphere and the standard of darts was superb.

My next tournament took me out to Germany for the International Darts Open in Reisa, which also saw the newly crowned Prem League Champ Glen Durrant miss out having provided a positive covid test. There were some fabulous darts thrown as you would expect, especially from Ross Smith, who recorded a first-round average of 112.80, he then took out the very in-form Gerwyn Price 6-5 the next day. He then went on to beat Germany’s Max Hopp before losing to the eventual Champion Joe Cullen in the Quarters.

It was good to be calling with a crowd, albeit only 250 allowed, but it made it feel like a little normality was coming back. The following weekend I flew back to Germany for the European Championships in Oberhausen. Again we had a small crowd which again made the atmosphere.

The first day saw perfection thrown from Portugal’s Jose De Sousa in his win over Jeffrey De Zwaan. The second round saw a few interesting results with World champ Peter Wright taking out Gerwyn Price, Ian White beating MVG, and Steve West taking a nail-biting last leg 10-9 win over Mensur Suljovic. The quarters the following day ran pretty much to form setting up Wade/Petersen and Wright Clayton semi-finals. Two smashing close-fought semis saw World Champ Peter Wright take on James Wade. Peter won 11-4 in a one-sided final in becoming the European Champion.

More travelling on the next weekend, saw me calling at the World Cup of Darts in Salzburg in Austria. Again a smashing tournament which saw all first-round matches as best of 9 pairs, which I really enjoy, not only calling but watching too. I am a fan of the pairs format. The tournament itself pretty much ran to form, with Wales although not the No.1 seeds (England), were favourites to win.

After a very entertaining couple of days, the final was between England and Wales. The Welsh boys of Gerwyn Price and Johnny Clayton, proved a little bit too much for the England duo of Rob Cross and Michael Smith, becoming World Cup Champions with a 3-0 victory. After the Grand Slam it’s the Players Championship and then Worlds. No rest which is great!

Please stay safe and chat soon.

R x

Russ Bray, PDC referee. In association with Unicorn and William Hill.

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