A senior member of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has put pre-tournament concerns about the future of the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton to rest.
Rod Harrington, former world number one and a member of the PDC board, has said the link the tournament has with the city is not going to end.
He said: “Wolverhampton is synonymous with the Grand Slam. It’s like the World Matchplay in Blackpool and the World Championships at Alexandra Palace. Wolverhampton is the Grand Slam.
“You can’t beat the noise the crowd makes when they’re here.
“Darts wouldn’t be darts without the crowd, without the people being dressed up and the singing and, to be fair, the players all put up with it because without that crowd, you’re not going to have TV, you don’t have live sports and instead of 14 million, they’re playing for 1 million.
“Nowadays, it’s so traditional for a noisy crowd and a crowd that’s enjoying themselves and that’s what it’s all about. There’s so much grief in the world today and when you get a nice, big crowd having a really good night out, that’s what it’s all about.”
The tournament was held at Aldersley Leisure Village for the first time this month, while regular venue the Wolverhampton Civic Hall undergoes long-term repairs until 2020.
It led many people to believe the PDC would move the Grand Slam to another location – but it didn’t fail to disappoint and organisers said they would happily use the venue again: Grand Slam of Darts still a draw despite venue move
The tournament culminated in a thrilling 16 legs to 13 final win by Gerwyn Price against Gary Anderson in front of a crowd of 1,800 on November 18.
With a nine-dart finish by Dimitri Van Den Burgh and averages over 100 in several matches, Harrington praised the players and their approach to the game.
He said: “I keep saying I’m surprised with the standard of play, but the standard of play this year has been a lot higher than it’s been in previous years.
“More ton-plus finishes, more high checkouts and that’s a credit to the players who are taking the game more seriously as a professional sport and who are putting in the hard work on the practice board.
“We’re getting a lot of good young players through the system from the academies to the youth tour to the challenge tour to the pro tour, so we’ve got a great system in place, with stepping stones, and they’re playing good competitive darts most weeks.”