Wayne Mardle urges Dennis Priestley to keep playing top-level darts
Last Updated: 26/12/12 1:17pm
Priestley: is defeat to Baxter his last World Championship match?
Wayne Mardle believes Dennis Priestley still has the talent to play darts at the highest level and says it would be sad if he decided to call it quits.
The 62-year-old lost his first-round World Championship clash 3-1 to Ronnie Baxter on Wednesday evening and later hinted that it would be his last appearance in a major TV darts tournament.
"Without people like that, sport doesn't work. Every sport has certain legends and he is a legend; he's a legend of darts and he will go down in history."
However, the Yorkshireman was far from outclassed by his opponent, missing three darts to take the match to a deciding fifth set, and Sky Sports expert Mardle says the two-time world champion should think hard before giving up the professional game.
"It will be sad because look at the way he played," Mardle said.
"He played superbly. There's pros on the circuit that cannot play like Dennis Priestley; forget the age, he's got the ability.
"He hasn't got the concentration and the focus like he used to have, but even this year he's only turned up for a handful of Pro Tour events and still qualified for the World Championship. That's how good he is. He's better than me!
"Personally, I would much prefer to watch Dennis Priestley than some prelim games [with players] that people don't know. I would pay to watch Dennis Priestley, I really would."
Wednesday's clash was the 50th PDC World Championship match of an illustrious career, which saw Priestley become the first man to win world titles in both darts codes.
Alongside the likes of Eric Bristow and Phil Taylor, he was one of the leading figures in the darts revolution of the nineties and Mardle paid tribute to his personality and influence on the sport.
"You've got Eric that started it all and then Dennis that carried it on, he carried the flame if you like," he said.
"Without people like that, sport doesn't work. Every sport has certain legends and he is a legend; he's a legend of darts and he will go down in history.
"You can tell by how Ronnie reacted as well. Everyone says good words about Dennis; no-one says 'yeah okay, Dennis is a nice guy' because he's not just a nice guy, he's a great guy.
"He's a family man and he's done everything right in his career in my opinion. There was never a time you think Dennis could have done something differently. He's a gent, he really is.
"He's won two world titles, played in six finals - okay he's lost four but they were all to one man, Phil Taylor. If he wasn't about then maybe he's a six-time champ and he's the one we give the accolades to that Phil Taylor gets?"