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The 'Voice Of Darts' Retires - Russ Bray Believes It's Time For The Next Generation


The 'Voice Of Darts' Retires - Russ Bray Believes It's Time For The Next Generation


If there's one sport that encapsulates the blasé indifference English culture has to boisterous and vociferous sporting pandemonium, then darts could put across a solid case. Like any big sport, there needs to be a collective effort to ensure the whole brand succeeds. While darts will always capture an audience, the crowd involvement, soundtrack, and legendary voices like Russ Bray help to attach so much joy to the game.



The Legendary Life & Career Of Russ Bray

Even casual fans who are interested in the sport might recognise Phil Taylor or a few other notable icons. Still, they'll almost certainly be aware of the gravely, distinctive, and drawn-out shouts of "180" that send a rapturous crowd into hysteria. If you were to give basic darts guides covering the main basis of the sport and how it has evolved in the UK,it wouldn't be complete without learning about Russ and his iconic career as a top-level darts referee.

Russ has been involved in darts for over 30 years, playing at a solid county level and, in his words, falling into refereeing and announcing purely through chance and association. Having developed a skill for refereeing and announcing, he soon caught the eye of the top-level darts organisation PDC, which quickly became synonymous with Phil Taylor's unstoppable rise to the pinnacleof the game.

It's pretty poetic that Russ Bray and Phil Taylor are calling it quits at the end of this season, but Russ's brand and visibility have continued to soar, even when the newer generation of players started to catch up to Phil. Throughout his 28-year career as a pro darts referee, Bray's success grew to such immense levels that he was drafted into to announce in professional boxing and formed a partnership with some of the most notable brands in the UK.


A Brief Glance At A Decorated Career

It's fair to say that Russ hasn't just put himself on the map, but he has been a significant piece of the jigsaw in lifting darts from the fringes of UK sporting culture to prime-time sports television and arenas all over the country. By expanding the visibility of the brand, PDC used Russ and his distinctive voice to branch out even further and reach a fresh audience.

Like how Michael Buffer became synonymous with boxing because of his iconic voice and slogans, Russ was pioneering a similar path in the world of darts. Russ has called 17 9-darters in his career, overseeing over two decades of unforgettable PDC tournament nailbiters and crowning the eventual winners.


Who Is The Next Russ Bray?

Well, that's probably the wrong way to look at it. Russ has trailblazed the next generation of referees and announcers to revolutionise the sport like he did. They don't need to follow the same blueprint, but there's a huge hole in the sport following the retirement of such a legendary and charismatic figure.

Some solid names are coming through, and as Luke Littler grabs all the sporting headlines due to his incredible breakthrough year, a group of referees is looking to make a similar impact on their level of the game.

While many believe Russ had a once-in-a-generation impact on the sport, some of the other top names that will be keen to step up to the podium and referee at the elite level include Huw Wade, Charlie Corstorphine, and Kirk Bevans, to name a few. Although all fantastic referees are in their own right, it will be challenging for any of them to rise to the same level of notoriety and recognition as Russ.

However, you'd have to look at the likes of Kirk Bevans, who is still only 37. There's plenty of time for him to rise to the top of the sport and make his mark, but there will be a serious adjustment when the irreplaceable Russ hangs up the microphone one last time.


Final Thoughts

Like with any great name in any sport, Russ has played a seminal role in bringing it into a new era. Essentially, from the beginning, he was the man who caught the ears and attention of casual fans.

While the whole package of PDC has been one of the sports marketing success stories of UK sport in the 21st century, without figures like Russ, finding such a broad audience would be far more challenging. If any new blood coming through can have even half the impact, darts will continue to have a strong place in the UK sporting landscape.







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