ALEXANDRA Palace has witnessed some of the greatest moments in darts since the PDC World Championships took up residence there back in 2008.

Just two days ago it was the setting for Fallon Sherrock’s historic victory over Ted Evetts – the first win for a woman at the tournament.

Other than semi-final appearances for Mark Webster and Jamie Lewis, the north London venue hasn’t been kind to Welshmen since the event switched from Purfleet’s Circus Tavern.

But there is a strong feeling among punters and pundits that things could be about to change, all thanks to Markham’s Gerwyn ‘The Iceman’ Price.

Price, 34, the tournament’s third seed, gets his campaign under way tonight with a second-round tie against Ireland’s William O’Connor.

He may not have gone beyond round three before, but the former Cross Keys and Neath rugby player is a real threat to championship favourite and three-time winner Michael van Gerwen of the Netherlands.

Runner-up finishes at the European Championship and Players Championship Finals bookended a successful defence of his Grand Slam of Darts title in November.

It was following his 16-6 thrashing of Peter Wright in Wolverhampton last month that Price received a shout out on Twitter from Hollywood A-lister Matthew McConaughey.

And it’s fair to say that Price’s 2019 is ending a lot better than how it started.

Beating Gary Anderson to lift the Grand Slam trophy in the autumn of 2018 came at a cost, in more ways than one.

He was found to have brought the sport into disrepute following his on-stage antics during the final and quarter-final.

That resulted in a fine of £21,500, a sum halved on appeal, and did nothing to ease the on-going tensions between him and the baying crowds.

However, his relationship with the fans appears to have turned a corner, allowing Price to concentrate fully on his darts.

“At the beginning, I didn’t mind the boos, but it went too far,” he told BBC Sport ahead of the Worlds.

“I don’t mind a bit of fun and a joke, the pantomime villain stuff, but to have boos week in, week out and then on vital doubles is a little bit below the belt.

“In Ireland (at the World Grand Prix), it took its toll and got on top of me, and I had to make my feelings clear. Since then, it has been a lot better.

“Defending the Grand Slam and making the last three major TV ranking finals has been a good end to a difficult year.

“Maybe the crowd have helped me in the last two tournaments – getting off my back certainly helps.

“You need different characters in the game and I know I’m not to everybody’s taste, but if I don’t like someone, I don’t boo them.”

As for his chances of becoming the first Welsh winner of the PDC world crown, he said: “If I was to retire now and never win the worlds, it wouldn’t be a major issue.

“I’ve won a major, I’ve had nine-darters. To come from my background, I would have bitten your hand off to have done that.

“A lot of good players aren’t world champions.

“Look at Jimmy White in snooker, what a player he was. I have a good career, a good living.”

If Price beats O’Connor, who overcame Marko Kantele to face the Welshman, tonight then he will play his next game on December 27.

Meanwhile, the odds of a van Gerwen-Price final on January 1 have shortened after former champion Rob Cross and 2019 runner-up Michael Smith – the number two and four seeds respectively – both lost their opening matches.