It was the showpiece event of the PDC darts season.
Gary Anderson, world champion in 2015 and 2016, was looking to retain his crown against a rampant Michael van Gerwen in the 2017 world championship final at Alexandra Palace.
Scotland’s Anderson took an early 2-1 lead in sets, breaking the throw of his Dutch counterpart.
But, in a high-quality encounter, van Gerwen then moved through the gears, winning 12 out of 13 legs on his way to taking the next five sets for a 6-2 advantage.
Needing just 115 points to secure his second career world title, van Gerwen was interrupted by a disgraceful spectator, who leapt onto the stage and picked up the Sid Waddell trophy before being tackled by security guards.
That neither player was unhurt was a minor miracle. Van Gerwen, who went on to lose that set, somehow recomposed himself and won the match 7-3.
It says a lot that, despite the brilliance of van Gerwen, some anti-fan thought it was more entertaining to steal the winner’s trophy than watch the action.
Were 42 maximums insufficient entertainment? A 108 average for van Gerwen and a 104 average for Anderson?
The sight of van Gerwen dismantling his closest rival should have been one to cherish.
Instead it was clear that, despite a record 42 maximums being thrown in the match – a world final no less – the fans at Alexandra Palace had decided the match was over given van Gerwen’s superiority and would turn their backs on the play.
Facing their peers, a large number of supporters began orchestrating footballing chants such as the Kolo/Yaya Toure song, oblivious to the darting treat that van Gerwen and Anderson were serving up.
Of course, darts actually has a lot to thank these fans for.
The popularity of the sport has risen astronomically and one of the key reasons for attending live matches is the chance to sample the atmosphere – driven by Planet Funk’s ubiquitous song ‘Chase the Sun’.
The level of play is perhaps the biggest factor though, with perfect 9-dart legs and 170 maximum checkouts a regular occurrence on the PDC circuit, which now sees more 100+ averages than not.
But along the way to stardom the sport has taken with it more and more football louts looking to get drunk, shout abuse at players and now, invade the stage of play.
With the growing amount of unsporting behaviour, more commonly associated with football, now being seen at the darts, PDC bosses should be taking proactive measures to combat what has unfortunately become a trend.
There is no harm in having a drink, chanting songs and creating a wonderful atmosphere, but why not make songs about darts players and keep the environment a positive one?
Presently, each player’s walk-on songs provide darts-themed chants, Phil Taylor’s ‘walking in a Taylor wonderland’ song is also routinely heard, but there should be more tungsten tunes than footballing ones.
Perhaps the PDC could learn lessons from the fans on its rival BDO circuit, where players are respected in the same manner as snooker players with silence on crucial throws and knowledgeable applause throughout.
Let’s not eradicate the football-type atmosphere completely, but shape it more in support of the high-quality darts being played.
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