Boasting decades of darting dominance, Philip Douglas Taylor is undoubtedly the greatest player that the sport has ever produced.
With a nonpareil tally of sixteen World Championship crowns and a magnificent multitude of titles and honours to his name, Taylor proudly stands alone on a regal pedestal.
When Phil Taylor began his career, professional darts was still in its infancy – far from a global phenomenon. His arrival on the scene in the late 1980s was a key factor in transcending the sport into today’s commercial juggernaut.
Millions of people across the planet have reaped enormous benefits from the game with many forging a rewarding career from darts. This is all due to the sacrifices and work ethic of a few. Those few included the great man himself.
Taylor was instrumental in a dramatic course change for world darts. He was at the heart of the heavily documented 1993 ‘split’. Together with iconic legends from the game, they gambled their collective savings on an outside horse which thankfully romped to victory.
…..and the name of that horse – the WDC. Which of course, went on to be known as the PDC.
Now 61 years old and retired from the sport, the virtuoso tungsten genius from Stoke-on-Trent finally downed tools after the 2018 World Championships.
Taylor’s legacy is carved deeply and almost certainly unsurpassed in darting folklore. It’s implausible to imagine any one person will ever equal his formidable accomplishments again.
Over the years, the achievements and performances of The Power have inspired thousands of enthusiastic dart players to take up the sport.
Ironically, Darts World and Phil Taylor first crossed paths over 40 years ago – long before The Power was busy filling up his trophy cabinet.
As a county player, Taylor reminisces about those early days which preceded a quite remarkable, distinguished and monumentally successful career.
“I’ve been buying Darts World since about 1980. I even used to nick Eric’s [Bristow] after that because he used to collect them. His son may very well have the first-ever edition, left to him by his Dad.
“After my debut for Staffordshire, I bought Darts World so I could see my name in it. The magazine gave all the results of the county matches. And there it was, my name printed inside – P Taylor.”
From that time on, there was rarely a darts publication printed without Taylor’s image adorning it. Over its 50-year history, Darts World has unquestionably featured the Stoke man on more occasions than anyone else.
But for one who has seen and done it all countless times, does he not miss the buzz and adrenaline rush of the ride? Any regrets about retiring?
“No”, said Taylor defiantly. “The timing was perfect for me. I was 58 and had done enough travelling by then.
“My health wasn’t what it used to be and I was suffering from being away from home so much. Plus it was hard work living out of a suitcase week to week.
“It sounds great, even glamorous when you mention you’ve been to Japan and Australia – but you don’t really see the places.
“We fly in the day before, do all our press engagements, then play the tournament and fly straight back out again afterwards. So all you really see is an airport, hotel and the venue.
“I’ll be honest, I haven’t missed darts. I’ve kept myself quite busy. The competitive side? Not really. I’d had enough if that makes sense.
“The crowds are now a lot noisier and far more boisterous than when I first started out. And a lot more insulting too.
“I remember playing Terry Jenkins at Blackpool and pausing to look around for a moment. The crowd were a bit unruly and I thought ‘my time is coming to an end here.’
“One of my really good friends is a man I call my second Dad, Pete Williams – Robbie Williams’ father. We speak almost every day and I was recently having a conversation with him about the subject.
“He is retired now. I asked him when did he realise it was the right time. And he responded saying that you’ll wake up one morning and think, I’ve had enough.
“And for me, there was that moment too. Although it happened 3-4 years before I actually did retire. But that was the start of it.
“I mean, if Blackpool is getting too noisy and a bit silly – what chance do you have with the other venues!
“This was when I was about 54. My career had already gone on a bit too long really. Barry [Hearn] wanted me to carry on so I said, as long as I can – I would. Providing I am fit and healthy, it’s fine. I’ll still continue to play darts.
“At that time, I wasn’t doing it for money because I had enough to last three lifetimes.
“Well …. in the end that final year felt like five! It was like waiting for your favourite Christmas present to come. Just weird.
“Normally, time flies for me. Especially the last few years since I retired. But that final year was murder. I kept thinking, ‘another three months and I am retiring’ then ‘another two weeks …..’.
“Eventually, I was waking up in the night thinking about it. It was ever-so strange.”
When most people choose retirement, it’s straight down to the garden centre to check out lawnmowers out or down the golf club to buy a set of clubs.
But not for Phil Taylor. Ironically, since leaving the sport he dominated, a lot of his time today is still spent playing it. But now it’s from the comfort of home and with family.
When you have stood at the top of the mountain for so long, you still like to remember the view. Seemingly, darts continue to run like a tidal river through the veins of the Taylor clan. And one in particular.
“My eldest grandchild Matthew is darts mad. He’ll get his copy of Darts World magazine and read it …. and read it … In fact, he will wear it out flicking through the pages!”, Taylor laughs.
Thanks Matthew! We appreciate your support.
Taylor adds: “Matthew actually works for me. I pay him a little wage and he comes up to the house and we practice together every day.
“I have a regular daily routine. I’m awake at about 6.30am, put the television on and watch it in bed for an hour or so.
“Oh I love a good box set. At the moment, I’m watching Suits. It’s brilliant and I love it. In fact, I watched it for about two years but fell asleep during most of it so can’t remember much.
“So once I’m up, I’ll potter about a little. Then put the TV on, check my emails and stuff like that. Matthew comes up about 10am then we start practicing shortly after.
“My form is not that great at the moment. But that’s because I’ve not really thrown a competitive dart for about two years. After a few hours of throwing, I usually drop him home on the way to see Pete [Williams].
“By the time I’m back from there, it’s teatime.”
Many thought that once Taylor closed the professional darts door, he would find his way into the commentary box just like his good friend Wayne Mardle.
Shaking his head and smiling, Taylor said: “No, that’s not for me. Again, to do that you have to spend a lot of time away from home.
“As a family, we have discussed it. I’ve had two or three years off so maybe I might looking at a bit of punditry in the near future. We will see what happens.
“But I won’t be doing as much as Wayne does. He is away week in and week out but still a young fella. I’ll be 62 soon.
“Plus it hasn’t been the right time what with COVID. I’ve had some blood clots recently so have had to be extra careful. I’m more susceptible to catching things now.
“The doctor told me to be cautious with what I do. So I am just being a bit more mindful.”
Rightly so. If Taylor did fancy a role in the media, he openly recognises that some studying would have to be undertaken.
With darts constantly reaching various pockets of the globe and an influx of talented youngsters, the Power confesses he isn’t up to speed on who’s who – yet often tunes in.
He said: “I catch bits. Believe it or not, I’m not a big darts watcher. However, there are certain games I enjoy.
“But my major problem is this …. let’s say out of 128 players in the World Championships, I might only know 20-30 of them.
“There is a lot of young faces coming through and I keep getting asked, ‘what do you think of this player?’ and I have to admit I’ve no idea who they are!
“Obviously they’re a good player. But I haven’t seen them before as they weren’t on the circuit when I was. So a lot of it has changed for me now.
“If I can put it this way – it’s a little like Wimbledon. There was a time when I used to know most of the players. But now, when I put the tennis on, I probably only recognise three or four. That’s when I start to lose interest.”
One blast from the past does however pop up on Taylor’s television screen quite often now. A player that he has enjoyed countless battles with over the years.
A legend who, not so long ago, tried his hand at retirement but wasn’t ready for life on the golf course or down the garden allotment just yet.
That man of course is the inimitable Raymond van Barneveld. But what does his nemesis say about the return of this prodigal son to the rigorous demands of the pro-tour circuit?
“I think he is very brave and has a lot of bottle. He is going to find it hard because there is a lot of good young players. And it’s a different atmosphere”, explains Taylor.
“You go in the practice room nowadays and apparently no one speaks. They all have their headphones on and get their head down – they’re professionals. And so they should be as there’s a lot of money to be made.
“But I’ll tell you what I do that I love. Sometimes on the Players Championships, I enjoy seeing all the results coming in. I’ll be engrossed watching the World Championship, Matchplay and Grand Prix races online. It updates every time there is a game played. It’s brilliant.
“I text a couple of the old pros still joking things like, ‘so and so is left on 132, if he doesn’t hit this, he will drop down’. It’s cracking it is.
With the World Championships on the horizon, let’s get a prediction from the greatest of all time. Who does he thinks will reign supreme at the Palace?
And a wild card too – someone who maybe emerges from the pack of pretenders to the crown.
Pausing for a moment to think, Taylor said: “I would go for Gerwyn Price to win the World Championships. He is fit, healthy, playing well and has confidence.
“Er, as a dark horse …. I’ll tell you who has been playing well – Kim Huybrechts. So maybe him.
“Another could be Barney! Because he isn’t playing that bad and he can win. He has won it before and knows how to do it.
“Then there is Adrian Lewis. His back is against the wall now. He has dropped so much in the rankings so needs the prize money.
“And the one thing with Adrian in the past, when he is up against it, he’s come out and won the World Championship. Whether he can do it now is another matter but he could be one to watch.
“With Adie, he could either get beat first or second round – or go all the way. He certainly has the bottle.
So you heard it here first! Who could ignore the predictions of the man who didn’t just wear the t-shirt – he designed and patented it.
Interview originally conducted for Darts World Magazine ( Issue 577) and our YouTube Channel here
Grab your copy of Darts World 581 here while stock lasts:
Images: Featured – Darts World.
The Darts World 50 will be available to order (Here) from November 15th 2022 with release and delivery expected in early December
Also Available Free: Darts World Extra 6
Darts World Magazine (Issue 580) and fantastic value bundle offers:
Subscribe or purchase your copy