Welcome to Ally Pally -“Talking Points”.
As part of A.I.M:‘s contribution to The Ultimate Guide to the World Championships (2019), we introduced the PDC’s annual darting extravaganza via a ‘Talking Points Style’ segment:
“Talking Points” – At the Palace.
The Venue –
When looking for a new, and larger, venue after the huge success of the 2007 World Championships, the PDC could hardly have found a better option than “the peoples palace”.
Despite being used as a circus venue, exhibition hall and even a refugee shelter, over its 140+ year history, Alexandra Palace has a long association with darts. The hugely popular News of the World event held its finals at the London venue with the raucous, but entertaining, atmosphere from the 1960’s being preserved in YouTube clips. The Ally Pally has provided fairytales, excitement and no little drama, right from its first year as host. Rank outsider Kirk Shepherd made the final that first year only to be felled at the final hurdle by Darth Maple (John Part). Every year since, thousands of fans, often in highly original fancy dress, have flocked to witness the next chapter of this fabulous story.
The Trophy –
Sid Waddell was known as “The Voice of Darts” and credited by many with helping to popularize the game in the 1970’s, and keep it alive during the leaner times.
Sid combined a unique use of language with an enthusiasm, and love for the game. that can barely have been matched. Quotes such as “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer… Bristow’s only 27 “ have become legendary and Sid is remembered with affection by millions.
Sid’s death in 2012 marked a generational and style change in darts. The decision to commission a new PDC World Championship Trophy, named after Sid, was warmly welcomed by those connected to both the game and broadcasting alike. Fittingly it was Phil “The Power” Taylor who emerged triumphant in 2013 and claimed the Sid Waddell Trophy upon its debut.
The Prize –
Winning the PDC World Darts Championship is now a life changing matter. The first holding of the event, in 1994, earned its first champion, Dennis “The Menace” Priestly, the princely sum of £16,000.
Although this was not to be sniffed at it can hardly be compared to today’s prize. The total prize fund for that first championship was £64,000, this year’s event will offer £2,500,000. The winner’s cheque will be a cool half a million pounds (£500,000). In many ways this is just the beginning of the rewards for the 2020 champion. Sponsorship and exhibition fees are boosted massively, by having a World Championship on your CV, and qualification for every event, for the next two years, is assured. Most players will value the place in the history books and the holding of the Sid Waddell trophy as equally important, but their families may well benefit more from the financial rewards available.
To say the PDC World Championship is worth a million pounds, to the winner, is no exaggeration. Leighton Rees’s £3000 reward, for the first ever darts World Championship, suddenly seems a long time ago. However, money is not everything and the fact that, Welshman, Rees is fondly remembered as, both a fine player and, a lovely individual, should remind us that the place in the history book of darts, and on the list of World Champions , is priceless.
A version of this feature first appeared in The Ultimate Guide to the World Darts Championship in December 2019.
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