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Gurney has the world champion in his sights

By Frank Brownlow

Published 26/12/2015

On target: Ulsterman Daryl Gurney stands in the way of Gary Anderson’s bid for back-to-back world titles
On target: Ulsterman Daryl Gurney stands in the way of Gary Anderson’s bid for back-to-back world titles

Daryl Gurney is world champion Gary Anderson's biggest fan - but all that goes out the window when the pair clash in the World Championship at Alexandra Palace.

Gurney celebrated when Anderson was crowned world champion last January - but aims to be wearing the crown himself come next Sunday.

The Ulsterman has been the talk of darts in recent weeks, sending shockwaves through the sport by firing Anderson out of the Players Championship at Minehead four weeks ago to the day.

And it was a comprehensive victory at that, the 29-year-old winning 10-4.

Gurney smiles at the memory.

"I've heard that Gary has said it will be the world champion turning up next time and not the player that was beaten in Minehead," he said.

"Gary wasn't at his best but that was because I kept him under pressure and didn't let him play his best darts."

When Anderson defeated legend Phil Taylor at Alexandra Palace to secure the title 12 months ago, Gurney was a happy man.

"I'm a darts player but also a darts fan. Whenever it got down to the semi-finals last year there was only one person who I wanted to win and that was Gary," he explained.

"Against Michael (van Gerwen) in the semis and Phil in the final I was shouting for Gary.

"For a start, his technique is unbelievably smooth and a throw that players dream of having. But also his temperament - he's a great guy - and his scoring power.

"Gary is one of the best players there has ever been and there would be something wrong with the sport of darts had he finished up having never lifted the world title.

"If I can achieve half of what Gary has achieved in his career I'll be a very happy man.

"But he doesn't scare me - and at least if I lose to Gary and people ask me who knocked you out of the World Championship I can say the world champion!"

But Gurney wants a repeat of his Players Championship success over the Scot tonight and revealed he's been putting the hours in to deal with the pressure.

He said: "I've calmed down a bit and I've been working on the mental side.

"I lacked a bit of mental strength at times, even though my game could match anyone. I needed to be stronger," he said.

The Londonderry thrower wants a good run in the £1.5million event to buy a new house and enable him to give up his day job as a plumber.

Gurney, who travelled back to London on Christmas Eve following his first round victory over Jamie Lewis, has risen to number 36 in the world despite only being able to practice at night after a hard day's graft.

But victory over Anderson tonight would secure a place in the last 16 and a clear route all the way to next Sunday's final.

"I've played the game since I was a kid," he said.

"My mum and dad both played as did the rest of the family.

"My dad used to bring me out to our back shed to practice against him - it was cold out there, nothing like some of the venues I play in now!"

And tonight he tops the bill at Ally Pally against the world champion. Daryl Gurney has come a long way.

Belfast Telegraph

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