When 'Dragons' collide

By Editorial Staff 20/07/2021

THE Battle of Wales will commence this evening in The Empress Ballroom Blackpool. Gerwyn 'The Iceman' Price will wage a tungsten war with close friend and fellow countryman Jonny 'The Ferret' Clayton. It promises to be both a thrilling an intriguing encounter.

The pair are partners, and reigning champions, at the World Cup of Darts and have each captured one of the game's biggest individual titles within the last few months. Both also share the same darts manufacturer (Red Dragon Darts). They will now go head to head for the first time since the biggest acheivements.

The pair's second-round date will be the highlight of Tuesday's World Matchplay (last 16 ties) with a capacity crowd starved of live entertainment for almost 18 months expected to raise the roof. 

World Champion Price insists that their friendship will be forgotten when they step on stage:

"Jonny's a great friend of mine but I know if I play my A-game then it doesn't matter who I play," said Price. "The only enemy I've got up there at the moment is myself.

 Price, though maybe at a slight disadvantage as he has missed out on what he refers to as 3 months top-class practice. A positive Covid test ruled him out of the Premier League. 

"I just concentrate on my own game and if I play well, then I definitely win. I haven't played much this year and coming into this I'm not very confident. 

"I started off really slowly and had to fight my way back into the game. I hit some big doubles but I was nowhere near how I can play."

The 36-year-old former rugby player had a poor Matchplay record which may have had something to do with being the father of two young girls. He says the family attended the event with him in previous years. Price says things have changed:


"I know where I've gone wrong in the past but I'm here to win it. If I can win this, the rest of the year is looking good."

Clayton, the recently Premier League champion, also had a questionable Blackpool record. But his victory over Dirk Van Duijvenbode should have provided a booster, Clayton opened up a 3-1 lead, only for the debutant to hit back as he followed up a 164 finish to lead 5-4.

Clayton then won four legs in a row to pull clear and maintained that advantage to progress to the last 16 for the first time in the event.

"My confidence is massive and I'm flying high," said Clayton.

"I know my game is there but I still had that little monkey on my back, and hopefully I can go on and win it now."

Looking ahead to his tie with Price, Clayton added:

"I'm here to win that trophy. I don't care if he's world number one, when we go on that stage we're enemies."

Clayton, 46, has certainly gained a huge amount of confidence from his superb 2021. Speaking to Darts World after that first-round win  The Ferret was  open about the growing pressure:

"Definately, The fan base is a little bit bigger and people are chanting for me now, whereas before I was just Jonny Clayton who would give anybody a good game...The pressure is massive but I just want to keep it going."

Don't be fooled by the bubbly demeanor, Clayton has simply found a way to stay himself and relaxed perhaps its another remark to the press that really sums it up:

"We're there to do a job and I'm here to pick a trophy up. I'm not here to make up the numbers."


Lead Image: Lawrence Lustig ( PDC)


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