'Jesus lookalike' darts fan ejected for 'distracting players' at Butlins Minehead
Top darts players can’t normally get enough of ‘doubles’ – but a fan who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jesus was kicked out of a major tournament as he was putting off the players.
Bearded darts fan Nathan Grindal was kicked out of a live televised final after the 4,500-strong crowd interrupted play by chanting about him.
Mr Grindal was enjoying the clash between Phil Taylor and Kim Huybrechts when some of the audience spotted his likeness to the traditional portrayal of Jesus.
Chants of “Jesus” quickly spread through the rowdy crowd packed into the venue on the Butlin’s resort at Minehead on the Somerset coast.
Security staff were called amid fears that Mr Grindal’s presence was upsetting the concentration of ex-world champion Taylor and his Belgian rival.
The labourer was close to tears as six bouncers removed him from the Cash Converters Players’ Championship, which was being broadcast on ITV4.
As he left, a chant of “Stand up if you love Jesus” broke out, with many of the crowd getting to their feet.
Mr Grindal, 33, was escorted to a nearby bar where the security staff bought him a pint and told him to watch the rest of the final on television.
He saw the legendary Taylor win – and then found himself being asked to pose for signed photos with fans as they left the arena.
Mr Grindal, who emigrated from his native Australia to live in Oxford six years ago, said yesterday: “I didn’t go to the darts dressed as Jesus – I went as me.
“It was all very weird and distressing. I didn’t break down crying but I did get emotionally distraught.
“They were bullying me and picking on me, saying that I was someone else. It would have been okay if the security hadn’t made a fuss getting me out of the arena.
“I was evicted for something I have no control over. I felt discriminated against.”
Mr Grindal, who began growing his beard four months ago, had booked a three-day stay with five friends at Butlin’s earlier this month to watch the darts.
He added: “After the tournament ended, I must admit a lot of people went to get autographs and signed photos from me. I signed a few pieces of paper – but in my real name, not Jesus.
“In his post-match interview, Phil Taylor said something like ‘if I ever see Jesus again, I’ll crucify him myself.’ Now that’s just hurtful.
“I love darts, but I’m worried about ever going to see it live again, just in case the crowd turns on me like they did last time.”
Dave Allen, spokesman for the Professional Darts Corporation, said Mr Grindal was ejected as a precaution to prevent his presence becoming a nuisance to the players. He said: “There was a lot of chanting and I think to avoid it becoming too much of a distraction for the players, he was taken by security to another part of the complex.
“We want everyone who comes to have a good time and we do not want one fan to become a problem for the players and to possibly affect play.”
He added: “There is plenty of audience participation. They are encouraged to support the players within certain boundaries. The fact they can buy four-pint pitchers certainly helps.”
CASH CONVERTERS PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS - IN PICTURES