Southland slaughterman speechless after upset
A couple of cold beers "to knock the edge off" propelled Invercargill slaughterman and part-time darts player Warren Parry to one of world sport's greatest upsets.
The understated Southlander assumed the unlikely role of giant killer at the Sydney Darts Masters when he sensationally eliminated reigning world champion Michael van Gerwen.
Parry, who works at a meatworks during the slaughter season and drives a truck in the off-season, had to qualify for the 16-man field through a regional tournament.
Throwing darts fits in after work.
"I wasn't too nervous. I really had nothing to lose but I had a couple of cold ones to take the edge off before the match," he said.
Van Gerwen, the Dutch world champion with more than $3 million in career earnings, was cruising at 4-0 before the slaughterman began his improbable comeback.
Taking out 108 on tops spared the 50-year-old the embarrassment of being blanked 6-0.
A fist pump with his then jovial opponent underscored Parry's relief, an emotion that turned to disbelief 15 minutes later after he orchestrated the remarkable comeback.
"I was hoping to just get one double at a time. They kept coming and coming and then it was 5-5," he said.
Parry threw first in the decisive leg and, after building an early buffer, he completed easily the most memorable win of his 27-year career on double top as a stunned van Gerwen looked apologetically at the audience.
"I never thought I'd be standing at the line in a position to throw a winning double against Michael. This is definitely my biggest career win," he said before his quarterfinal match against England's James "The Machine" Wade last night.
The New Zealand No 1 admitted before his duel with "Mighty Mike" van Gerwen it would be the "upset of the century" if he beat the shaven-head, fist-pumping Dutchman.
Early yesterday morning, he completed the upset.
The big win is not likely to change the meatworker's life.
"I'll still be cutting carcasses and driving trucks. I'll be back home and at work in a few days," Parry said.
He will also be back keeping his aim sharp on the dartboard that hangs in the lounge. "It's too cold to be having a board in the shed or garage," he said.
Parry will also have his wife, Amy, making sure he does more work on his game. "He needs to practise more. He is quite slack at practising," she said from his side in Sydney.
However, she is also enjoying his incredible achievement.
"Words can't explain what he has done," she said.
"Warren is an awesome darts player and has had some fantastic results, but this is the highlight of his career. A few of us felt if he got a chance he was good enough to finish."
Starring under the bright lights and world glare of the professional darts circuit wouldn't go to her husband's head, she said.
And he certainly wouldn't be adopting any outrageous hairstyles or making any funky fashion statements - like many of the stars of world darts - after slaying one of the giants of the game.
"He'll just come back as Warren Parry."
Back at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club, his darts team-mates raised a glass to their mate yesterday and were looking forward to his next match.
Club president Joe Parata said despite giving his mate "no chance", he stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to watch the game. It was well worth it.
"I got goosebumps watching Warren fight back from 5-1 down and beat the best player in the world," Parata said. "He didn't even expect to get a leg, let alone win the match. He won't forget this any time soon.
"It's got to be up there as one of the great upsets in darts history."
Van Gerwen was missing his trebles on the night and Parry made him pay, Parata said.
Whatever the result of Parry's match overnight, his triumph against the world No 1 on the world stage will be remembered in darts folklore for a long time.
The humble darts champion's world headline-grabbing win will add more intrigue to the Invercargill leg of the new Australasian King of Darts series in January.
Three legs of the series will be held in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Tasmania, while ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill will host New Zealand's only leg.
- The Southland Times, Stuff