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’:
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
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
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!
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!