GERWYN PRICE cancelled out the noise of the Ally Pally boo-boys – but was ultimately silenced by loud German Gabriel Clemens.
Price, 37, is regularly targeted by darts fans, who jeer his throws at key moments, and he put on headphones which are used by industrial workers to drown out the audience’s sounds.
The Iceman received permission from the PDC beforehand to wear the contraption often seen on air traffic control and he felt he had nothing to lose at 3-1 down.
Yet the tactic – which made him look like one of the Cyberman out of Doctor Who – failed to work as he was booted out 5-1 by the outsider.
Fans did not respond in positive fashion at the gimmick, singing: “What the f****** hell is that?”
An emotional Price took a swipe at the Ally Pally fans as he threatened to call time on his darts career.
He posted on Instagram: “So frustrating, you play all year round, preparing for this one tournament.
“So gutted I wasn’t let play but good luck everyone left in.
“Not sure I will ever play in this event again.”
It means that come Tuesday evening, Price will be knocked off his perch as world No.1 and he could even drop as low as fifth in the standings.
Flanked by three security guards for his walk-on, Price made his way to the stage for his first appearance on TV since apologising for a “spontaneous gesture” during the last 16 win over Jose de Sousa.
His heat-of-the-moment reaction in the final set – in which he pulled a silly face by pushing out his chin and raised two limp wrists in frustration – angered disability campaigners.
They argued that he had intentionally mocked disabled viewers but Price insisted there was no malice behind the incident.
There were more than 600 German fans in the arena last night and they gave huge support to the 39-year-old German Giant.
For Price, the first set was a demonstration of sheer clinical darts – three out of three on his doubles, a 107.36 average and consecutive checkouts of 140, 110 and 74.
It was so brilliant that Clemens, the 6ft 4in man mountain, did not have a single doubles shot in the opening set.
But playing in his first quarter-final at this level, he did not let it bother him, responding positive to claim the second set.
In the third set, the crowd were on their feet as Price hit six treble 20s in a row in the first leg despite dropping one of his darts on the floor.
The former rugby league hooker has form for this, having hit TWO perfect legs on the same night in Belfast last February, but this time he fluffed the attempt.
In response, Clemens won the third set against the throw and then dominated the fourth set, typified by a brilliant 136 in the third leg.
Something drastic was needed and at 3-1 behind, Price returned from the break wearing black ear defenders as well as ear plugs to concentrate and focus.
It was an astonishing sight – could you have imagined Jocky Wilson or Eric Bristow pulling this stunt in their heyday?
Clemens, who dethroned Peter Wright as world champion from the 2021 tournament, could have lost his mind at his opponent’s unprecedented antics.
But the No 25 seed kept cool, winning the fifth and sixth sets to move into the semi-finals for the first time in his life where Michael Smith awaits.
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