Coral’s 10 biggest darts rivalries, fall-outs, fights and bust-ups
Holly Thackeray | 2 January 2017
Coral’s top 10 darts rivalries
Whether you’re a PDC enthusiast or more of a BDO traditionalist, sometimes it is the characters in this increasingly popular sport, as well as the talent, that gets viewers tuning in and filling out arenas in their thousands.
You don’t get to major tournaments without mental strength and, when the stakes are high, there can be drama on and off the oche.
Personal rivalries provide a compelling subplot, as Jelle Klaasen and Michael van Gerwen (odds-on 8/13 favourite to win the 2017 PDC World Championship) reminded when they opted not to shake hands in the recent European Championship.
Now we’re at the business end of darts season in 2016, with the prestigious 2017 PDC World Championship ready to dominate Christmas and New Year. And, it’s bound to bring plenty of conflict to the fore.
So, to get punters in the mood, we present the 10 biggest darts rivalries, fall-outs, fights and bust-ups. Enjoy…
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
Of course, as the two biggest faces on the tungsten planet for many years, 16-time world champion The Power and five-time world champion Barney were bound to rub each other the wrong way eventually.
There has always been a heavy dose of darts respect between the two greats, but it wasn’t always the case and there were certainly handbags at dawn at the peak of their rivalry.
Fans will particularly remember when things came to a head in a dramatic PDC World Darts Championship semi-final duel in 2013, in which Taylor beat Van Barneveld 6-4.
As The Power (9/1 third favourite to claim the upcoming PDC Worlds) fist-pumped and celebrated his oche success, the darts duo almost came to blows right there on stage, although Taylor later apologised via video for overreacting to a bemused Barney’s attempt at a congratulatory hug.
Relive the tense tungsten moment below:
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
If you’ve ever seen these two battle it out for big prizes, you know there’s no love lost between world number one MvG and Wright.
Mighty Mike has a habit of standing in Snakebite’s way when it comes to the Scot trying to claim his first major, and when a pair of competitive sportsmen are paired together so often tensions are bound to fray.
Watch below as Van Gerwen takes exception to Wright’s showmanship:
A war of words also occurred once off the oche as, when Wright held MvG to a Premier League draw in 2015, the giant Dutchman dubbed his opponent “unprofessional” for missing a double whilst playing to the crowd.
Wright’s response? “Grow up you big baby.”
Adrian Lewis v Gerwyn Price
This feud has plenty of mileage thanks to our sports heroes’ involvement on social media! Lewis and Price had never been big fans of one another, but Twitter allowed their spat to spill over.
Gerwyn price https://t.co/8j5dYTU05d
— Adrian Lewis (@jackpot180) September 25, 2016
In a tit-for-tat Tweet exchange, Price infamously made allusions to Jackpot’s fitness when the darts duo were compared to boxers, saying: “Think I’m the only one who would last 12 rounds there, although I think it would be a second round KO.”
Lewis hit back at the former rugby professional with: “He’s a big mouth who’s never won anything and never will win anything as he’s got no respect for anyone.”
Though the riled Englishman gained the upperhand in their feud in a fierce 2016 World Matchplay 2nd round match which he won 11-5, but things boiled over in a post-game interview as he gloated: “You can practice all you want but you can’t practice crapping yourself.” Ouch.
Justin Pipe v Kevin Painter
In the 2012 World Grand Prix, Pipe’s over-exuberant celebrations saw Painter give his peer short-shrift as The Force finally came over for a belated handshake.
Put out by the former fighter boxing clever, The Artist looked incensed. But this only spurred Pipe on even more, so watch his incredibly acrobatic overreaction below:
Jocky Wilson v Eric Bristow
Former world number one Bristow certainly had the edge over one of his earliest rivals in Wilson, who he crushed 16 times to nine, including in nine finals!
It was a classic case of England v Scotland, and the couple of old foes also faced each other for their nations. But, The Crafty Cockney was never short of confidence and you can see how he jostled the Jocky’s nerves with brash words below in the 1983 BDO Grand Master final. Bristow for least gracious trophy acceptance speech ever? Even the crowd groaned!
Phil Taylor v Peter Manley
The Power ruffled a fair few feathers in his time and Manley was no exception. One Dart always seemed to be a runner-up and, as you may remember from our piece on the greatest darts finals whitewashings, he was drubbed mercilessly 7-0 by Taylor in the 2002 PDC World Championship.
Naturally The Power was overjoyed, but Manley cast himself as the sore loser by walking off stage and refusing to shake hands. Perhaps he was just sick of being toppled by Taylor, who defeated One Dart 22 times to three. Oh dear.
Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis
If you’re looking for a sporting rivalry with a personal spin, take a look at the tiff between fellow Potters The Power and Jackpot. They may represent England together in the World Cup of Darts – but that doesn’t mean they always see eye-to-eye.
Two serial winners both from Stoke, and a master v pupil storyline, were always going to make a perfect match for much drama.
Taylor took the time to consider his relationship with his younger peer, in a book that was serialised by the tabloids.
The Power recalled when Lewis told press: “It’s time to stop calling me Phil’s protege – all I’ve ever done is to practise with him, but I used to practise with my dad and nobody calls me his apprentice.
“How much of my success is down to Phil? He passed on a few tips, like going to bed early and a few things I should be doing as a professional, but I had qualified for three tournaments on the circuit before I had even met him.”
Taylor went on to say: “I was standing only a few feet away when he said those words. I thought his comments were very disrespectful – to suggest I had never done anything for him apart from telling him to go to bed early was not just dismissive, it was an insult.
“For a few weeks I didn’t say a word to him; in fact, I felt so let down that I told him to keep away from me.”
Rewatch as words were exchanged in a thrilling 2010 World Grand Prix semi-final:
Adrian Lewis/Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
One of the more recent upsets on the PDC darting circuit, Snakebite’s off-oche issues with Jackpot and The Flying Scotsman reportedly resulted in Wright being unable to play alongside Anderson for Scotland in the World Cup of Darts.
Tensions were high between the chuckers in the 2016 Premier League, with Wright required to beat Van Barneveld and see Anderson defeat Lewis to reach the play-off finals.
But a purported Twitter leak and supposed comments from Wright’s wife saw the situation spiral. In an alleged private message, she supposedly said: “We all know that Gary will be giving Lewis a position next week don’t we. Quite a nice bet again this year. As in giving Lewis the one point he needs to get to the play-offs.”
Jackpot went on to react by saying: “I really do hope the DRA (Darts Regulation Authority) take this seriously, nobody in darts I know of would ever throw a game, we all practice hard to win.
“You still shouldn’t say that me or Gary are cheats.”
It’s not the first time Jackpot and Snakebite have clashed, however, as you can see in the entertaining 2015 Grand Slam clash between them below as Lewis stated: “If [Wright] wants to be a clown then get on with it.”
Phil Taylor v Eric Bristow
Another classic darts rivalry here, don’t miss out on glimpsing The Power’s moustache back in 1991 as the two legends squared up in a BDO Darts Invitational.
Having already knocked Bristow off his perch as world number one, there was much showmanship from The Crafty Cockney, with his protege The Power even puckering up for a kiss from his peer.
The showing above may have been in mostly good humour, but clearly the truce didn’t last, as Taylor reacted to Bristow’s criticism over changing his darts with a candid interview at the 2016 PDC World Championship.
“Apparently he called me brain-dead. Listen, I’m not a multi-millionaire for being brain-dead!” Oops.
Adrian Lewis v Peter Manley
Finally, this is perhaps our favourite, as a young Jackpot took on the player nicknamed ‘master of mindgames.’
Lewis was able to pull off a brilliant blind 180 against One Dart which is worth a look.
But the drama between these two really began when, in the 2006 PDC World Championship quarter-final, Jackpot complained to the referee over Manley’s slowing the pace of the match.
Verbal sparring ensued and resulted in Lewis walking off stage to cool down! The younger man later returned but Manley eventually won 5-3.