Plucky Gerwyn Price has vowed to “drown out” the intense pressure of playing in front of the Premier League crowds.
Price won his opening Unibet Premier League clash and now faces Raymond van Barneveld at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Thursday night.
He said: “All the pressure is on Raymond. I won last week and he didn’t, he maybe should have won in Newcastle. I’m confident so happy days I’m looking forward to Glasgow.
“Last week Daryl went two legs up and then I won five on the trot which shut the crowd out and shut him out.
“That’s what I need to do early at The Hydro as well. I need to be on my A game from leg one and try and drown the crowd out and keep Barney subdued.
“If not it will be like the crowd was last week and I’ll just deal with it.
“It’s now about timely celebrations, only doing it when it really matters on big scores and big checkouts. Sometimes people don’t like it but when I do celebrate I do play a lot better. If I don’t enjoy it, I’ll lose.
“I’m better off just keeping on doing it. If I get banned then so be it, I’m better off not playing anyway.
“I’m just thrilled with the first win. I’ve had so much pressure on me for the last couple of weeks. I didn’t know which way to go, how to play or how to perform or react.
“But last week I thought I’m just going to be myself, do my own thing and whatever the outcome is, the outcome is.”
Price, 33, has showed remarkable backbone to defy the deafening boos and continue to make huge progress on the oche.
The sport needs characters like this hunky Welshman and he is producing the quality of darts to go with being a pantomime villain.
In his defence, his aggressive on-stage persona is in stark contrast to his true personality backstage. He’s polite, approachable and charming.
The fierce Price is purely from his rugby pedigree, ironically honed partly in Glasgow. He played rugby union for Neath, Cross Keys, in the PRO12 for Glasgow, and rugby league in South Wales.
The World No.7 added: “I’ve always been the same since day one. I’ve been playing on TV now every tournament for the last two or three years, so it’s not as if it’s overnight that this has happened, it’s just happened against somebody who’s really popular and it’s just a shame that it’s going this way.
“As you’ve seen in the Masters I was probably not the same player as I have been. That’s basically it. I do it to make myself play better, get my own adrenaline and if they’re going to take that away from me, then my A-game is gone and they have to beat my B-game.
“I don’t do it on purpose and if it comes out it comes out. I held back a bit because you’re sort of being stopped from being able to do your job, and I just don’t know how to react lately, but if it comes out it comes out. If I get banned I get banned, it’s something I can’t control.”
On Thursday night in Newcastle, Price was jeered to the stage again but his response was to produce arguably one of his best performances to beat Daryl Gurney with a 104 average, a barrage of maximums, and of course the trademark roar.
He added: “I haven’t really played that well. I played well in the Players Championship Finals but came up against a better player on the day and I was a bit disappointed with the Worlds. I don’t know what it is with the set format, I just play absolutely rubbish.
“I’m still practicing well and confidence is sky-high after the Grand Slam.
“Last year it didn’t really go to plan, I didn’t know what to expect but I know everything that comes with the Premier League this year, so I’m looking forward to it a bit more this year.
“Being on stage and playing darts, that’s what every darts player wants to do, especially in the Premier League. Once you’re on stage that’s the easy bit so to speak, it’s just the travelling took it out of me and I’m basically not winning a game as well.
“You’re down in the dumps going to Pro Tours and then you’re not home until the Monday. I was home for a day and then away and it starts again. It just wasn’t for me last year but I know what to expect this year and I’m a better player as well.”
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia)
Photography: Taylor Lanning (@taylorlanning11)