Ulster darts star Daryl Gurney said he will not miss the sport’s ‘walk-on girls’ after the Professional Darts Corporation made the decision to take them off the air.
Dart players have traditionally made their way to the stage accompanied by one or two women, who World Grand Prix winner Gurney said “get in the way”.
The use of ‘scantily clad’ females to escort players to the stage has been met with calls of sexism, with world number one Michael van Gerwen voicing support for their removal.
Gurney, the Londonderry-born thrower who is currently ranked number five in the world, said: “It won’t bother me that they won’t be there any more. They don’t make me play any better or any worse.”
He added: “I think they just get in the way when you’re doing the walk-on.
“When you’re walking on there are barriers on both sides and you want to be able to bounce from one side to the other and shake peoples’ hands. The girls are kind of in the way on either side of you.”
Although Raymond van Barneveld has lent his support to a petition to reinstate the walk-on girls, Gurney said he did not believe many players would be upset that they had been axed.
He said: “I think it’s more to do with the fans who maybe want to see them. As players it doesn’t bother us that they won’t be there any more.”
The 31-year-old first played in the PDC World Championships in 2013 and last year in Dublin he won his first major televised title – the Unibet World Grand Prix.
He recalled his early experiences of walk-on girls: “The first time I had walk-on-girls coming to the stage with me would probably have been my first PDC tournament but to be honest with you I don’t remember because whenever you’re playing your first game on a big stage you’re not thinking about who’s walking beside you, you’re thinking about beating who you’re playing on stage.”
The PDC’s decision to no longer use walk-on girls came after feedback from broadcasters.
But a petition to keep the tradition of darts walk-on girls had gained close to 30,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Walk-on girl Charlotte Wood, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “Everybody chooses to do a job, and I feel like if I’m being told I can’t do this job, then my rights are being taken away.”
She added: “I go to work, I put on a nice dress and I escort darts players on to the stage. I smile and that is it. I don’t honestly see what the problem is.”
Following the decision the Women’s Sport Trust tweeted: “We applaud the Professional Darts Corporation moving with the times and deciding to no longer use walk-on girls. Motor racing, boxing and cycling ... your move.”
Formula 1’s new owners said in December they are looking at whether the sport should continue to use ‘grid girls’.