Few things in the world of sport can match up to the atmosphere found on Thursday nights when The Premier League Of Darts rolls into town. A ‘must-do’ item on many a sports fan’s bucket list, this is the story of my night at the darts in Manchester.
As soon as we got into town you could feel the buzz of anticipation in the air. Walking into a packed-out Wetherspoons full of people in Hawaiian shirts, Rainbow mohawks and bald caps all chanting “Don’t Take Me Home” at the top of their lungs, was a sight that’ll live long in the memory!
As we made our way up to the AO Arena, the streets of Manchester had never looked so colourful. Awash as they were with Teletubbies, singing traffic cones and dancing crayons as far as the eye could see. A quick stop and search check followed once we’d arrived. One in which a member of our group had his Welsh flag, that he’d hoped to wave in support of Price and Clayton, confiscated!
Onto the darts then and a mammoth match-up straight out of the gate… Peter Wright vs Gerwyn Price! The latter of whom was debuting his well-suited new walk-on music, Roar by Katy Perry. Whilst perhaps both not at their very best this was still an enthralling encounter.
There were missed doubles and moments of real quality and in the end it was Price who did enough and got the win 6-4 much to the delight of our flagless friend! Wade vs Anderson followed in a game that can best be described as peak Wade! A near-perfect display on the outer ring by the Machine saw him ease to a 6-2 victory.
Clayton vs Van Gerwen was next up, the match of the night in my opinion. Two absolute darting titans throwing everything they had at each other up on that stage, Clayton winning 6-5 averaging 109 to MVGs mere 105. By the way there really is something special about actually being in the arena as the lights turn green, John McDonald does his thing and the iconic White Stripes riff kicks in, spine-tingling!
I missed the Cullen vs Smith game sadly as a negative of being part of a record-breaking 12,000 strong crowd is the fact that the queues for drinks and toilets are equally record-breaking, Cullen won 6-2.
Minor point now as we move on to the semi-finals, having both the players just casually stroll on to stage minus walk-on music really failed to give it that big fight feel and as a result, they felt like the two flattest games of the night atmosphere wise. Wade beat Price 6-2 and Cullen beat Clayton 6-3 to set up an all-English final.
Walk on music returned for the final thankfully and what a reception for Joe Cullen! All 12,000 in attendance belting out Oasis to one of Manchester’s own. Despite the Rockstar’s best efforts though, including 7 perfect darts in leg 6, it was James Wade who finally in his 4th weekly final of the season managed to get his 1st night win.
With our location in the crowd however, it was hard to concentrate on the darts during the final as there were flying pints of beer coming down from the rafters all around us and return pints being lobbed back up. Bearing in mind it was £7.50 a pint some people really must have more money than sense!
All in all, then I thoroughly enjoyed my night at the darts and would fully recommend it to anyone! Now I’m off to do a quick Amazon search as I’ve got to buy a replacement Welsh Flag for the group!
Words: Kieran Wood (Insta: k.woodzie123 or Facebook
Images: Simon O’Connor/ PDC
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