Any number of names can be chucked into the ring for the “accolade” of being the best player never to have won a PDC major and Mervyn King’s would be high up on anyone’s list.
Numerically, at least, Terry Jenkins trumped everyone – nine major finals and lost the lot – but King isn’t far behind with seven out of seven.
Yet 13 years after that first near-miss – a 7-5 defeat to Phil Taylor in the final of the Championship League – he’s still out on the circuit, still winning big matches, still reaching finals and still believing that elusive first PDC major is just around the corner.
BDO Despair at the Hands of David and Goliath
When Norfolk darter Mervyn King burst onto the scene in the BDO’s ranks in 1994, he looked all over a future world champion.
Blessed with prodigious scoring power, an air of supreme confidence and with many of the game’s top stars departing to the PDC, these should have been fertile times for the Fenlander.
In fact, it took him ten years to simply win his first seriously big title, the 2004 World Masters. Before then he had already been to two Lakeside world finals, only to come a cropper both times, against first David, then Goliath.
In 2002, Tony David was an unheralded Australian qualifier who had battled health conditions merely to get to Frimley Green and fourth seed King was expected to take the pre-tournament 100/1 shot to the cleaners. How wrong we were.
Two years on and King was back in the final, this time to be stunned by Goliath, the man mountain that was Andy Fordham, who had the crowd and the formbook on his side and won easily.
Grand Larceny in Dublin
Despite claiming he’d rather “pack up darts than join the PDC”, King did what many top pros did – and joined the PDC in 2007. And the impact was instant if, inevitably, accompanied by the usual shortcomings.
He reached the Championship League final in 2008, the world semis at the end of the year and did the hard work on his Premier League debut by beating Phil Taylor in the semis, only to lose to James Wade in the final.
But the hardest of hard-luck stories was yet to come; that was saved for a Sunday night in Dublin in October 2012 at the CityWest Hotel where the Englishman was up against the bright young thing that was Michael van Gerwen in the final of the World Grand Prix.
And he had the 23-year-old on the ropes at 3-0 and 4-1 up. With the trophy – and that maiden major title – literally within touching distance, suddenly the crowd turned, Van Gerwen milked it, King went to pieces and pretty much crumbled, losing five sets in a row to lose 6-4.
It was the bitterest of all losses and the anger in his eyes was there for all to see.
King’s Quest for the Crown Goes on
Two years later, in PDC major final number five, King squandered a 10-6 lead against Wade in the Masters Final, losing 11-10, leading to yet more questions over whether he had the mental strength to back up the natural and abundant talent.
Lesser men might have called it a day; King simply carried on, played through endless back pain, and wouldn’t you know it, twice in the last year he has reached two more major finals – although you can guess the outcome.
At November’s Players Championship Finals final he suffered another heartbreaking last-leg loss to MVG and a couple of months later succumbed 11-8 to Jonny Clayton at The Masters.
King, though, seemed fairly sanguine about that loss which suggests he’s got the strength of character to come again, and again, and again.
He’s 55 now, not getting any younger and the opposition continues to improve, but he’ll keep on knocking and maybe, just maybe, The King will yet get to reign one day, with King
70/1 to win the 2022 PDC World Championship.
*All odds correct at time of writing