Welsh Darting Greats: Our Six Of The Best.

Ray Reardon, JPR Williams, Lynn Davies, John Charles and, more recently, Gareth Bale. Legends of Welsh sporting prowess. But, even more have been born ‘on the oche’:

Wayne Warren the latest in a long line of Welsh Darting giants.

The triumph of yet another Welsh World Champion, Wayne Warren, together with our latest Darts World ‘Unsung Hero’ (Alan Evans) reminded us of the phenomenal sporting record of the principality. In snooker, rugby, football, and many other areas Wales punches above its weight, producing legendary players/characters. But is for the ‘darts’ floor’ that they just keep on producing.

Honorable mentions to go to Ceri Morgan, who sadly died recently, Marshall James, Johnny Clayton, Jim Williams and legendary Welsh skipper Martin Phillips. But our six Welsh giants are:

Six: Alan Evans

Evans the Arrow can rightly be classed as one of the founders of the feast. He claimed Runner-up spot in The News of The World event and lifted the World Master trophy. Alan was part of the three man team that won the first World Cup and stamped Wales on the darting map. Check out Alan’s Unsung Hero profile.

Five: Gerwyn Price

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG : GERWYN PRICE IN ACTION

The Iceman is storming through professional darts, just as he did opposition defences on the Rugby field. The Cardiff man already has two (ranking) major titles to his name and has also twice been a major runner-up. Currently ranked No 3, by the PDC, Price is strongly tipped as a future World Champion and is currently in his third season of Premier League darts.

Four: Wayne Warren

To claim a World Title is impressive at any time, to claim it as your first televised major is remarkable and to do it aged 57 is simply unique. Tynewydd’s favoured son gave the 2020 BDO World Championship the positive story it desperately needed and became the fourth Welsh man to claim the revered trophy. His 2020 form suggests he may add more titles to his collection yet.

Three: Richie Burnett

The Prince of Wales kept the Wrlsh flag flying after the early blaze had begun to fade. Winning the World Masters in 1994 and the World Championship the following year. Burnett has had ups and downs over a long career and probably waited too long before trying his luck on the PDC tours. However, his runner up effort in the 2001 World Matchplay and his comeback run, to the semi, in the World Grand Prix, a decade later demonstrate that he had the talent. Sadly, a social drugs suspension has hastened a decline in his success. Richie’s place amongst Welsh Darting royalty in nonetheless assured.

Two: Leighton Rees

Leighton Rees, father of the modern game? The Original Cobra?

The Marathon Man can lays strong claim to a place among the founding fathers of modern darts. Using self made barrels, dowling stems and paper flights Rees claimed the 1st World Professional Darts Championship in 1978. Often overlooked is that he often averaged over 90 and notched a 97+ on the way to the title. Leighton’s Welsh outfit claimed that first World Cup in ’77, & retained it in ’78. The big man had taken the Indoor League title in ’74 & ’76. Bearing in mind that Indoor League introduced darts to a mass audience, while Rees won the game many fans, by personality as well as ability, he was a strong contender for the top spot.

One: Mark Webster!

Carried the flag into the moder PDC era.

Despite Leighton’s claim, its the Denbigh player who carries the flag for the Welsh legends. Webster belongs to an exclusive club of World Champions who have also won the World Cup Singles titles. His defeat of Simon Whitlock, to win the Worlds, in 2008, restored Wales to the top of the darting tree after more than a decade. The fact he was only twenty-four ensured plenty more was to come.

Webster switched to the PDC and made sure Wales was represented, at the highest level, during a vital time for the professional game. Webby twice reached the semi finals of the (PDC) World Championship and was later the runner-up in the Players Championship finals.

Mark was the first Welshman to play in The Premier League and skippered the Welsh pairing (with Barrie Bates) on a tremendously popular run to the final of the inaugural World Cup of Darts (PDC).

Currently Mark is on a sabbatical from the Pro Tour, he can however be heard summarising major TV events. Who knows, as he is only 36, perhaps there are more chapters in the story of our top Welsh Darter!


Unsung Heroes – Evans ‘The Arrow’

Darts World’s regular look at those players whose career or contribution to the sport of darts may have been overlooked, under-credited or faded with time.

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In the current era of professional darts, we often take it for granted that players at the top of the game are privileged to earn a very good living. However, that wasn’t always the case; many top players from the past have had the tricky task of juggling top level darts with maintaining other professions.

The man who lays claim to have been the first professional is the late Alan Evans, or ‘Evans the Arrow’ as he was affectionately known. A natural showman, Evans made a living from the exhibition tour and by taking on all-comers for big money in the working men’s clubs of South Wales.

Those readers with long memories or YouTube addictions will recall seeing the diminutive Welshman in gripping, not always friendly, struggles with some of the legendary names in darts across the ’70s and ’80s. However, most will not be aware of the sustained contribution made to the game by this fiercely competitive and highly talented player. 

Amongst Evans’ playing achievements were appearances in the finals of The News of the World (1972) and The Indoor League (1973 and 1974). These were amongst the first televised events on ITV, whilst Evans also made the final of the first event to be screened on the BBC, The 1975 British Open. During that same year, he claimed the World Masters title, arguably the most prestigious title in darts at the time. Evans was also an integral part of the Welsh Team that won both the team championship and overall championship at the inaugural Darts World Cup in 1977. 

Unfortunately for Evans, these tremendous results arrived in the years just prior to the beginning of darts’ first golden era; he may well have peaked a little too soon. Evans was twice defeated at the semi-final stage of the World Championships, firstly 3-1 by his compatriot Leighton Rees in 1979. Just a few months later, Evans was to receive a 12-month ban from the BDO for allegedly assaulting an official; this robbed him of the chance to win tournaments when he was at or near his peak. After his suspension, Evans seemed to play a secondary role on the biggest stages and never quite hit the very highest level again. However, he did manage to roll back the years with another run to the World Championship semi-finals in 1987, where ‘Rhonnda Legend’ was soundly beaten 5-0 by Eric Bristow.

Evans has a few other claims to fame, he scored 401 in 9 darts (doubled to £802 for charity) in the television show Bullseye’s guest professional round. Nobody ever scored higher. It was also reported and witnessed that, at an exhibition event in Scotland, Evans hit 8 separate 150 checkouts going the 3 x bullseye route. Evans even played Muhammed Ali in a special “World Championship” match. 

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Evans (Front) battles fellow Welsh legend Leighton Rees.

Evans was a serious competitor and, at his best, a sensational player. It is a shame that television viewers did not have the chance to witness his best over a sustained period. His contribution to our game should not be underestimated. Perhaps the best indication of his impact on audiences were the tributes paid by the late, great commentator Sid Waddell. Waddell would refer to the “Alan Evans Shot” if a player needed 150 to finish a leg and would often use him to illustrate fighting qualities or sudden spells of blistering form. Waddell had seen players come and go for decades yet very rarely awarded players this type of acclaim. When Evans tragically passed away in 1999 at the age of just 49, Waddell wrote a glowing tribute.  

Phrases including “the balance of Nureyev” are not often equated with darts players but perhaps only the combination of Waddell and ‘Evans the Arrow’ could produce them with sincerity. 

Like many unsung heroes, Alan Evans didn’t enjoy the full rewards of what he helped to create, but his role should always be remembered. 


First submitted for Darts World Magazine (Print/Digital) – March 2020. JEGL

“If God Threw Darts, He Would Throw ‘Em Like Wayne Warren!”

Listening to a new video with new World Champion (BDO) Wayne Warren, I was reminded of the above quote. Sadly God does not pay out prize money!

In conversation – Wayne Warren

It is a lovely chat with Wayne who is very authentic and obviously not an example of the modern, slick and media trained sportsman. Instead you actually see the real person!

From talking about his “god given” or natural talent, although he confesses to have sped up slightly over time, to first realising he might be a bit good when invited to join a winning team, at the age of seventeen, when no young players were allowed in the pubs! Then winning the individuals title in such company confirmed his thoughts.

Leighton Rees – Welsh Darts legend.

One delightful section reveals the importance of the carrying of the Welsh darts ‘torch’ Wayne clearly values his connection to the trailblazing greats such as Alan Evans and Leighton Rees and hopes that other young Welsh players will see him in the same light.

Wayne cites the infuence of the legendary Martin Phillips as part of the reason for his late career success. Time spent with Martin over many years and seeing his career example seems to have taken off for the fifty-seven-year-old Warren. He speaks about the lull in his career after playing Merv King in the 2005 lakeside, and how he faded for a while, before reaching the semi final in 2019.

On this years event Wayne offers some superb insights for those who might follow his path. He is aware that he has become a fraction slower on finishing and match winning darts and that this may be simply the result of time and patience.

Wayne’s restraint when talking about the controversy surrounding the event, especially the massively reduced prize fund, is admirable and even more so when its clear how unhappy he is with the situation. His reasons for this become apparent when he is asked how important it is that the alternative/grassroots structure of the BDO/WDF continues:

Its Vital…without it I think it could be the end of darts as an an amateur Game

Wayne Warren
Warren is clearly unhappy, with the BDO’s behaviour, yet shows admirable restraint.

Hopefully Warrens plans to recoup some of the financial reward by having a very busy year with his World Championship Trophy will pay dividends and he will both have the chance to defend the trophy and perhaps, give the PDC a try next year when things are a little more stable.

The closing section of the interview shows us an extremely well regarded, and down-to-earth, sportsman who has risen to the very top of his game. Darts World wishes Wayne all the success, and rewards, in the coming years.