January 1, 2013…..a landmark day in the life and career of the greatest darts player in history.
Phil Taylor secured a ‘sweet’ 16th World Championship at the age of 52 – another phenomenal achievement from a phenomenal darts star!
Taylor, who is now closing in on an incredible 100 ‘Major’ titles, proved that age is no barrier as he beat talented Dutch youngster Michael van Gerwen by 7 sets to 4 at the Alexandra Palace.
‘The Power’ also proved the doubters wrong yet again….those who said he would never win another World Championship, but he also proved a point to himself!
“A day I will never forget,” he said. “2012 was a tough year all round, so to achieve all I did, culminating in the World title, is very very special and it proved that there is still plenty of petrol left in the tank!” he said.
For the first time ever, Taylor was second favourite going into a World Championship Final and he could have found himself in big trouble, trailing 5-2 in sets, but the 23-year-old missed two darts to win that seventh set and it was THE turning point in the final.
‘The Power’ got up a head of steam and he reeled off five straights sets to stun Van Gerwen and take the crown, plus the little matter of the £200,000 prize money which extends his huge advantage on top of the PDC Order of Merit.
And the 2013 World Championship meant so much more to Taylor, because he was the first name on the new Sid Waddell trophy – named after the legendary broadcaster, who died in August 2012.
Sid and Phil became close friends over the years and Waddell also wrote Taylor’s autobiography.
And it’s all a far cry from the previous two World Championships, when he was knocked out by Mark Webster and Dave Chisnall, but you always got the feeling Taylor was the man to beat and so it proved!
His brilliant performance in winning the 2012 Premier League for a 6th time silenced the doubters again.
And 2012 didn’t turn out to be a bad year after all…..following that Premier League triumph, came a remarkable 13th World Matchplay crown, and just a month before he won the World Championship again, Taylor took the Players Championship title in Minehead.
Add to that winning the World Cup of Darts for England with Adrian Lewis in Hamburg, the little matter of three 9 darters, yet another Championship League Darts title, and you can see why he was named PDC Player of the Year yet again at the sport’s seventh annual awards night at the Dorchester Hotel.
By anyone’s standards another brilliant year, but by Taylor standards, he was still disappointed.
The great man was beaten by Robert Thornton in the final of the UK Open (only the 6th time Taylor has ever lost in the final of a TV Major) and he was knocked out of the European Championship by Brendan Dolan,….then came defeat to Thornton again at the World Grand Prix and he was trounced by Van Gerwen at the Grand Slam.
But 2012 was still ‘Taylor Time’!
The Premier League success at the O2 saw him beat Simon Whitlock 10-7 in a classic final – his sixth win in the eight years of the prestigious tournament.
Of course, Blackpool and the Winter Gardens have become his second home and there was no real surprise when Phil took the World Matchplay title for a 13th time….an 18-15 victory over James Wade also made it five consecutive Blackpool crowns.
In that five year span, he has beaten Wade three times and the other two victories havce also come against fellow Team Unicorn stars….Terry Jenkins and Raymond van Barneveld.
That CL Darts success – his third in five years – was achieved courtesy of a thrilling 6-4 win over Whitlock at Crondon Park Golf Club in Essex.
Taylor used his ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card at the Players Championship Finals…..in front of 4,000 fans at the terrific new venue in Minehead, he was 5-9 down to Andy Hamilton in the quarter-finals, but somehow found a way to win five straight legs to pinch a 10-9 win. And he went on to beat Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in the final.
And despite the odd barren spell when Taylor has gone only months without a big tournament win, the trophies have always just kept coming.
In fact the longest he has ever gone without a ‘Major’ came between 2010 mand the summer of 2011….but he put that right emphatically as we saw ‘The Power’ spark into life, winning the World Matchplay and European Championship in the space of seven days.
A 12th Matchplay title, courtesy of an 18-9 win over Wade, was followed by a fourth consecutive European Championship crown, when he beat Adrian Lewis in a terrific final in Dusseldorf.
In October 2011, he won the World Grand Prix for a 10th time, beating Irishman Brendan Dolan by six sets to three in the final…..a second Championship League Darts title was next when he beat Paul Nicholson, and in November came a fourth Grand Slam of Darts crown – achieved by a wonderful performance and 16 legs to 4 win over Gary Anderson.
But Phil Taylor’s incredible achievements will never be beaten!
‘The Power’ has been written off many times during his long and illustrious career and he has suffered the odd melt down, but every time, Taylor bounces back stronger and more determined than ever.
It is all relative though, when talking about Philip Taylor!
And TEN 9 darters on TV….12 if you include the couple he has hit at Championship League Darts!
By his very high standards, he suffered a tough time in the second half of 2010 and the first half of 2011.
Remember, he lost to Lewis in the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix…..defeat followed in the final of Championship League darts to James Wade and the quarter-finals of the Grand Slam at the hands of Steve Beaton.
He was also beaten in several PDC Pro Tour events, but the big disappointment came at the Alexandra Palace when his bid for a 16th World Championship crown was ended by Welshman Mark Webster at the quarter-final stage
Taylor lost his PL crown in 2011 – beaten by Lewis in the semi-finals, and defeat at the UK Open to Paul Nicholson added to the problems, but no matter how rough it gets, Taylor gets tough and fights back.
Taylor defeats over the last two or three years make the big headlines just as much as his successes!
Of course, he still looks back with pride on “one of the biggest accolades of my life.”
That was in December 2010 when he came second in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year behind top jockey AP McCoy.
.“It was an incredible night…..one I will always remember and when they played my walk-on music in the arena and everyone stood up and cheered, it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck! It was that special,” he said
And another big personal honour came when Taylor was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame, joining darting legends like Eric Bristow, John Lowe and Dennis Priestley.
After his 16th World Championship success, Taylor appeared on the Jonathan Ross Show on ITV1….he is always a man in demand that’s for sure!
2010 may have been an average year by his own very high standards….but don’t forget, after the 15th World Championship came another Premier League crown, another UK Open title, an 11th World Matchplay Championship and a third consecutive European Championship.
And on top all that, the little matter of ‘The Power’ making more darting history with those two 9-darters in the final of the 2010 Premier League at Wembley against James Wade.
And it is history, breaking records, setting new standards and winning trophies that matter the most for Taylor.
In the summer of 2010, a 3rd European title was won in Dinslaken, as he thrashed Wayne Jones in the final. That followed hot on the heels of yet another terrific triumph in Blackpool, as he retained his World Matchplay crown - beating Raymond van Barneveld 18-12 in a high quality final at the Winter Gardens.
And in June, Taylor claimed a 4th UK Open title, beating Anderson 11-5 in the final.
Also in that tournament, he blasted a new world record high average for a match on TV. Taylor whitewashed Kevin Painter 9-0 with an end average of 118.66
But it was that incredible night at Wembley in May 2010 that Taylor regards as one of the best of his career when he rewrote the darting and sporting history books, by becoming the first man to hit TWO 9-darters in a match on TV! He beat James Wade 10-8 to win the event for a 5th time, but that tells only half the story.
Of course, Taylor was the first man to hit a 9-darter on ‘live’ British television when he achieved the feat at the World Matchplay….and that magical moment in 2002 earned him £100,000.
So, it was probably always meant to be that Taylor would become the first man to achieve darts ‘holy grail’ twice in the same match – and on ‘live’ TV.
The first one came in the second leg….174, 180 and 147 – T20, T17, D18 and the second one came in the 15th leg when the final was in the balance….180, 180, 141 – T20, T19 and D12…..Wembley went crazy and Taylor celebrated!
Incredibly, he came close to a third 9-darter – hitting seven perfect darts in the 16th leg, but in the end, he was just glad to hold off Wade’s terrific challenge to reclaim the Premier League crown – with a near 112 average!
But only a year later, he was brought back down to earth with a bump at Wembley….he won 13 out of 14 games in the league stage, but was walloped 8-3 by Lewis in the semi-finals of the 2011 Premier League.
Taylor won his record-breaking 15th World Championship, beating Australian Simon Whitlock in a thrilling final by 7 sets to 3 at the Alexandra Palace in January 2010.
Don’t forget that it was back in 1990 that Taylor won his first treasured World Championship.
What he has achieved since will never be bettered….
That first one came against his mentor Bristow, when he overwhelmed ‘The Crafty Cockney’ by six sets to one…..and who can forget his epic World Championship triumph a couple of years later, when he beat Mike Gregory in one of the best matches in the history of the sport.
And he is also a member of a very exclusive club…..the only other member is Team Unicorn legend John Lowe. They are the only players to have won the World Championship in three different decades.
For a man who has earned millions in prize money, the cash just isn’t the driving force….the titles and the winning matters more these days.
Even so, he now spends a lot of time at his villa in Tenerife, enjoying his life away from darts and that has meant scaling back on personal appearances, exhibitions and appearances in PDC Pro Tour events.
“It is all about getting the balance right nowadays,” Taylor revealed. “My life is more than just darts these days and that is very important to me.”
The King of Darts for the last two decades….and counting!
Year in, year out, the great man continues to rewrite the darting record books.
It was in Amsterdam at the 2009 European Championship, he made more history by becoming the first man to average over 110 in a tournament – and that included a sensational average of 118.14 in the quarter-finals against Gary Anderson.
Indeed, Taylor came within a whisker of even more history….not once, but twice Taylor narrowly missed D12 for nine darters in the winning leg of ‘Major’ Finals….first in Amsterdam in the last leg of that final and again in the winning leg of the Grand Slam of Darts III
The 14th World Championship, which came with a convincing 7 sets to 1 victory over Barneveld.
And Taylor didn’t just win it in 2009 - he did it in amazing fashion, with an average of 110.94 – the highest average ever in winning a Major darts Final….although he topped that with a near 112 average in the 2010 Premier League Final win over Wade.
Don’t forget, he was a winner again when big time darts returned to the famous Circus Tavern in 2009.
Taylor, who won 11 of his World Championship crowns at the iconic venue, swept all aside to win the first ever Players Championship Finals at Purfleet, with victory over Robert Thornton.
But of course, he tends to make just as many headlines when things don’t quite go as planned!
Many will remember one of the big low points in his career in October 2007, when he lost in the 1st Round of the World Grand Prix to Adrian Gray in Dublin.
After the defeat to Gray in Ireland, he was in tears backstage, believing his career was over….but that isn’t how Philip Taylor ticks and in the cold light of day, it was just the kick up the backside he needed!
Remember another golden summer in 2008? The blow of a rare defeat at the UK Open was cushioned by more record-breaking achievements at the Reebok. He lost 10-9 to Barney in the quarter-finals after the Dutchman took out 289 (180, 109 c/o) in six darts in the deciding leg.
But earlier in the event, Taylor had recorded the highest ever average in any tournament in the history of the sport, when he clocked 114.53 against Wes Newton! Of course, he has now beaten that 18 times since!
And he also banged in a 4th magical 9-darter at Bolton – his achievement against Jamie Harvey earning him a £25,000 bonus.
But there is still one missing from the CV…..a World Championship 9 darter!
And now ‘The Power’ has set his sights even higher in the sport, which has given him fame and fortune, by pledging to play on after signing a five-year contract extension with Unicorn.
“I will finish my career with Unicorn,” he said. “They are the best in the business and I am just as determined to be the best in the business for a few years yet,” he vowed.
Throughout that so-called ‘barren spell’ Taylor still produced some magical moments and tournament wins that any other player would be more than happy with…..but not ‘The Power – The Perfectionist!”
Remember, Taylor won the first ever Grand Slam when big time darts returned to ITV in 2007
He beat Andy Hamilton in the final, which was shown ‘live’ on ITV1 and has gone on to win the GSOD four times in six years.
And the great rivalry with Dutch darting giant Van Barneveld has been one of THE great darting duels, since the Dutchman switched to the PDC in early 2006.
And of course, that 2007 Ladbrokes.com World Championship Final will be forever known as ‘The Greatest Game’.
Taylor was 3 sets to nil in front and looked to be cruising to a 14th World Crown, before the fightback started on a quite amazing night at the world famous Circus Tavern. At 6 sets all and 5 legs apiece, it went to a sudden death final leg shoot-out, which of course Barney won.
Taylor actually suffered one of his heaviest defeats of his career at the 2007 UK Open, when he lost 11 legs to 4 to Barneveld, who went on to win the title for a second consecutive year, but it was at that tournament that he wowed the crowd with his 5th perfect 9-darter on ‘live’ TV.
He achieved darts holy grail against Wes Newton, which earned him a £20,000 bonus. His other 9-darters at Bolton have come against Matt Chapman and Roland Scholten, and then of course, did it again in 2008 against Harvey! He also hit a 9-darter in May 2007 at the International Darts League in Holland to win a car, which he promptly gave away!
But Taylor will always be remembered for the first ever 9-darter on ‘live’ television.
His 13th World Championship – a seven sets to nil victory over Peter Manley in the 2006 Final at the Circus Tavern marked another landmark, as it took his earnings from prize money alone, over the £1 million mark.
That record of those 16 World Championship Titles will never be beaten and don’t forget that ‘The Power’ only started lighting up the world of darts at the age of 28.
Year after year, Taylor raises the bar and rewrites the history books.
It was back in August 2002 that Taylor scooped £100,000 for that first amazing feat. It happened during the World Matchplay Championships against Chris Mason in Blackpool.
But of course, it is all a far cry from the days when he was earning £50 a week working in a factory making ceramic toilet handles. Then, a certain Eric Bristow recognized the talent and lent Taylor a few thousand quid to get him started. How the rest of the darts world are still cursing Bristow to this day!!
Taylor though, has deserved all he has made from the sport, because he has been instrumental in catapulting darts into the limelight. He has put darts on the front and back pages and his amazing achievements have helped to give the sport the high profile sporting status it now enjoys.
His titles have come all over the world from the BDO World title, World Darts Trophy and International Darts League, World Masters, Head-to-Head’s and the countless PDC titles from Purfleet to the Ally Pally, Blackpool, Vegas, Dublin, Bolton, Wolverhampton and all points North, South, East and West!
The relationship with Unicorn has also proved an inspiration to Taylor. “There is no doubt the company is number one and they are not just sponsors, they are friends. They have never let me down and I want to carry on repaying them,” he said.
Taylor has become a celebrity in his own right, appearing regularly on TV shows like ‘A Question of Sport’, The Weakest Link, Eggheads, Hard Spell and the Bullseye Gameshow Marathon with Vernon Kay, plus Red and Black with Ant and Dec!
His autobiography ‘The Power’ was co-written by Sid Waddell and was a bestseller. He has also appeared in a pop video, featuring the former lead singer of The Darkness Justin Hawkins, where the pop star beats ‘The Power’ in a World Final!
It has certainly all been worth it!
It has been an unbelievable journey from 1990, when as a 125 to 1 unknown, Taylor thrashed his mentor Eric Bristow 6-1 to win his first World title at The Lakeside.
He has been described as one of the best sportsmen that Britain has ever seen…..nobody will argue with that.
There are those who say that without Taylor, the sport of darts wouldn’t be where it is today….nobody will argue with that either!
Quite simply, Phil Taylor is news and nobody will argue with that!
He remains focused and hungry for more…..he has said he will play on until he is 55-years-old and then have another look at it.
Taylor celebrates his 53rd birthday in 2013 and as he looks ahead, we will all surely be looking at yet more ‘Major’ darting titles.
Quite simply, when it comes to darts, he is the greatest of them all.