The story of a master of his craft, from the start to the new Millenium
As the last dart thudded into double 16, it was over. The final dart of the 2018 World Championship had been thrown. The crowd burst into cheers, and the sparklers erupted, Robert Cross had beaten Phil Taylor 7 sets to 2. Despite what the scoreline would suggest, this wasn’t something the fans were used too. Throughout his career, Taylor had dominated the sport, becoming known as the greatest player ever to grace the game. This final performance would not show just how dominant the darts legend had been throughout his career.
From Humble Beginnings
Philip Douglas Taylor was born on 13th August 1960, in Stoke-on-Trent, England to Doug and Liz Taylor. As a young man Taylor left school at 16, finding work in the ceramics trade and the sheet metal industry.
Although Taylor took up playing darts at an early age, he would not begin to take the game too seriously until he moved to a house in Burslem, Staffordshire. This new home was situated next to a local pub called the ‘Crafty Cockney’, named after darts legend Eric Bristow who owned the establishment. After being gifted a set of darts by his girlfriend Yvonne, Taylor began to play darts more regularly. It would not take him long to find his way into the county team, where he caught the eye of Eric Bristow himself. The five-time world champion offered to sponsor Taylor, proposing him a £1000 loan to support his family and get his career off the ground, if he quit his current job. After arguments with his current boss who told the aspiring prodigy he was making a big mistake, and supporting words from Yvonne, Taylor accepted his offer.
In 1987, the two of them travelled to Las Vegas, to take part in the North American Open with Bristow as reigning champion, before his case of dartitis, a condition where the thrower struggles to release their darts. Taylor would have a less than dream start getting knocked out in the first round but, in the process getting his first experience of the professional circuit. Throughout his first year on tour, he would continue to struggle. It wouldn’t be until Bristow covered his travel costs to the Canadian Open in 1988 where he got his first taste of victory. The young prodigy beat the reigning World Champion Bob Anderson in the final 5-1. It would be around this time, on the 9th April 1988, that the newly crowned Canadian champion married his girlfriend of many years, Yvonne. Going into 1989, Taylor registered a quarter-final finish at the British Open and a semi-final finish at the Winmau Grand Masters to qualify for his first BDO (British Darts Organisation) World Championship. Despite accumulating success in the darts world, Taylor was on benefits when winning his first tournament. Any winnings he had been making were being given to Bristow to pay him back for the loan and other payments from his sponsorship.
First Time at the Lakeside
Even though Taylors results had been improving, he would still go into the World Championship as a 125-1 outsider. The ‘Crafty Potter’ as he was now known didn’t not let this get to him, displaying his ability in the first round by beating 6th seed Russell Steward 3-1. It would be fair to say an upset like this got people talking. The buzz continued as Taylor took a 3-0 set win over Dennis Hickling in the second round. After this win, Taylor had made it through to the quarter-finals. The 125-1 seed had shown that he had more ability than the bookies had suspected. A 4-2 quarter-final win over Ronnie Sharp and a 5-0 semi-final win over Cliff Lazarenko, would put Taylor into a debut World Championship final. He found himself up against the tournaments number one seed and his mentor Eric Bristow.
The Final did not start as planned for Taylor as he sent two of his first three darts into treble one, getting a first throw score of 25. However, after some back in fourth in the first few legs, he would get the games’ first 180. The Crafty Potter then had a chance exhibit his skill, with Bristow only needing double 16 to clinch the leg, Taylor checked out a 170 finish to take a 1-0 set lead. Bristow did not take this lying down. After a lengthy battle, the veteran dragged the match score back to 1-1, hitting a maximum to leave a 56 checkout. Despite this setback, Taylor did not let Bristow settle into a rhythm. Throughout the 3rd set, the 125-1 outsider was on top, taking three legs back to back to earn the lead 2-1 on sets. At the start of the 4th set, Bristow looked to bounce back, starting with a 14 dart leg to stop the rot. Although, this fightback wouldn’t last long. Taylor quickly came back to level the set. With both contestants hitting a 180, Taylor would take the 3rd leg despite Bristow looking to be in control. The prodigy turned up the heat by hitting another 180 in his march to take the set’s final leg and a three sets to one lead.
Bristow continued to fight against the Potter. However, it all seemed to be in vain. Every time the Crafty Cockney stepped up, Taylor pushed above and beyond. When Taylor won the 5th set with a 115 finish, winning by three legs to two, he took a 4-1 lead. The players went off for a break with Bristow needing a miracle to get back into this contest. The commentators described the game as “the sorcerer’s apprentice, giving the sorcerer lots of trouble”.
Bristow came back from the break continuing to fight, taking the first leg since the interval with a 121 finish. But Taylor again struck back, hitting a 177 to leave a double 12 which he took out in his next visit. Throughout this set, Bristow’s darts would not be his usual steady best. Despite this, he would still manage to keep up with his apprentice taking the second leg.
A moment of comedy then arose between the two players despite the seriousness of the final. Taylor left a 161 finish to take the 4th leg. After hitting the T20 and T17 Taylor, knowing he had another visit, opted to go for the single ten to set up a finish on his next shot, instead of going for Bull. Groans rang out from the crowd, who wanted to see a big check, But Bristow would laugh, as if he was saying to Taylor, ‘you should have gone for that’. The two friends pushing each other on despite the occasion was a warming sight, with the commentator adding “This is developing into a great friendship between these two.” Taylor would take it out on his next visit, to level the 6th set. He then went on to take the last leg to give himself a 5-1 set lead.
At this point, the match looked over. Taylor had a commanding lead and Bristow couldn’t seem to find his best form. Taylor needed just one more set to take the title. He continued to dominate, taking the first leg with a 117 check and the second with a 57. The man from Stoke on Trent was on the verge of greatness and had a chance to win with a 129 checkout. However, once again he would choose not to go for Bull, knowing Bristow couldn’t check on his next go, leaving himself double 20. However, this time, the prodigy payed for it. After Bristow left himself 61, Taylor failed to take out the double 20. The veteran took advantage and gained a leg back, checking his favourite D16. The Crafty cockney would then again turn to Taylor and share a joke, the commentator said, “He turned round he said you should have taken your chance, you’re not champion yet”.
Bristow kept fighting. In the next leg, he smashed in a 180 to keep the set alive. However, Taylor followed it with a maximum of his own, prompting more smiles between the two competitors. After Bristow failed to take out a finish, Taylor came back to the oche, once again missing D20 to win, with the dart falling into the single 20 below. He would this time Check the D10. The score was 6-1, and the match was over. Phil Taylor was the 1990 BDO World Champion. The crowd erupted with cheers and applause as Taylor and Bristow shook hands. The student had beaten the mentor in what would be hailed as a changing of the guard.
The New Man To Beat
Taylors win at the Lakeside had given him the confidence to push on through the rest of the year, winning open events in North America, Finland, Denmark and the Isle of Man, before also going on to win The British Pentathlon, British Masters and the Europe cup. He took this form into the Winmau World Masters, where he would also come out as champion. Fans and pundits alike were starting to see glimpses of what was to come from Taylor, as his world title defence came around. However, he could not repeat his heroics of the previous year as he went out of the 1991 World Championship at the quarter-final stage to eventual winner Dennis Priestley, dropping a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3.
This loss seemed to knock Taylors confidence, as he wouldn’t hit the successes he did the year prior and lost to Rodney Harrington in both the Danish open and Winmau World Masters finals. However, in times like this, the best players manage to bounce back, and Taylor did just that. During the 1992 World Championship, he reached the final once again. This time he faced Mike Gregory. This match would come down to the wire in a game of twists and turns.
With the match poised at 5-5 and the 11th set tied at two legs apiece, the game needed a break of throw, meaning either player would have to win by two clear legs to take the title. Gregory took the first advantage, going 3-2 up. After Taylor failed to check, Gregory found himself with three darts to take out 61 and win the game. After hitting the treble 17, he would miss two darts at double 8, giving Taylor the chance to check 20 to level the match. He split the check down to double five but take it out with his last dart, to keep the tie going.
Gregory followed this up, staying with throw and winning a 12 dart leg to retake the lead 4-3. However, once again, Taylor would not lie down and brought the tie level, taking out 39. Both players who had given everything throughout the final still seemed to have a lot left in the tank as this tie continued. The 9th leg would continue with the throw. Gregory punished Taylor for missing a chance to check on Bull. Once again, Taylor levelled the tie with Gregory missing six match-winning darts before Taylor took his double 8. In his autobiography, Taylor admitted that ” He (Gregory) should have won here”. This outcome meant the game have to go to a deciding leg, both players would throw for Bull, and closest goes first. Gregory would hit the Bull meaning the first throw was his. However, Taylor wouldn’t let this affect him and took the lead after the first throw. After Gregory missed the chance to take the win, Taylor would go out on double top and win a hard-fought second BDO World Championship. Taylor described this final as one of his favourite games from his career.Embed from Getty Images
The Split In Darts
Tensions had begun to fray between the BDO and its players. In his autobiography, one of the earliest cases of strain Taylor recalls was when after his 1992 World Championship victory, his manager Tommy Cox wasn’t invited to the after-party until Taylor threatened not to go unless Cox was given an invite. There was also an incident in the same year where Taylor would find that there was a video produced by the BDO of his second World Championship win. However, both Taylor and Gregory knew nothing about this. The players were not given any money for the game being used in the film, even though Sid Waddell would be paid for his commentary. As both players were furious upon finding out, Tommy Cox, as both players, had not given away their commercial rights by agreeing to play in the competition.
At around this time, the main governing body of darts, the BDO, was being called into question by the sport’s top players. Over the last decade, the sport had lost many important sponsors and saw massive television coverage declines, going from 14 televised tournaments in 1988 down to two by 1993. This led players to question whether the BDO still had the game’s interests at heart. In his autobiography, Taylor would say that despite meetings since 1988 on improving the sport’s television time, “the BDO seemed reluctant to face the problems”.
Taylors manager Tommy Cox would be a foremost runner for the change. Alongside Taylor, Cox was the manager of 14 players, including a previous champion Bob Anderson. Every previous world champion and other tops players broke away, joining a rival ruling body. The WDC (World Darts Council) later renamed the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) was founded in 1992. Cox became the leading representative of the organisation.
After threatening to boycott the next world championship, a temporary peace was brokered allowing WDC players to appear in the BDO World Championship in 1993. Olly Croft (head of the BDO) also agreed to allow the players to wear WDC badges on their shirts during the event. Something he quickly went back on, as the first day of the competition, Jockey Wilson and Eric Bristow were asked to remove their shirts’ WDC badges.
The World Championship in 1993 would see Taylor once again unable to defend his title, going out int he second round to Kevin Spiolek 3-1. However, at the time no one knew this was to be the last World Championship as it was currently known.
In May 1993, the BDO representatives called the representatives of the WDC to a meeting. As Taylor would put it “Swords were immediately drawn.” After leaving no ground for the WDC to give an argument, it was clear they were not there for a discussion. They imposed new laws on anyone representing the WDC. These lead to an expensive court case for all those involved. The rulings stated members of the WDC were banned from BDO events with the WDC not allowed to set up its events on the BBC. On top of this, no spectators were allowed to go to WDC player events and exhibitions, putting all the player’s livelihoods in jeopardy. This rule even went down to local level. In his autobiography, Taylor would say his cousin Jimmy Prince, who played for Staffordshire “was told he should not even speak to me” and a local dart playing builder was told, “he must not put a door on Taylors house”. This was all weighing hard on Taylor and would get even more challenging when his wife Yvonne had medical issues during her third pregnancy. Thankfully for the couple, this lead to no long-lasting complications.
These events lead a group of representatives, including Cox, meeting with Jonathon Martin, the BBC head of sport. He would listen to their plea, and publicly announce the BBC would not show darts without the top players in the sport and advised both sides to get back around the table. With the talks giving little ground, The WDC has begun its own circuit with growing giant Sky Sports and were planning its own World Championship.
Some players had to break ranks, but most would participate, including every previous BDO world title winner. It was hosted at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet. With the circuit gaining massive popularity, the WDC was finding its feet, and with Sky promising to cover every dart of the World Championship, the was a buzz around it all. Phil Taylor described the efforts put forward by Sky saying the updated lighting and coverage ” made the BBC’s efforts over the year look Neanderthal”. This would be the introduction of a new flashy darts, including walk-on music, huge introductions and models walking out with the players. Sid Waddell commented on the new look saying “I knew the Sky razzle-dazzle treatment was spot on. Darts needed the wrestling and Superbowl glitz”.
Due to sponsors, the first WDC world championship had prize money total of £16,000 and would include 24 of the best dart players on the circuit. Taylor found his way to this first-ever final and meet Dennis Priestley. Taylor, however, never really get going and lost 6-1, with Priestley becoming the first champion of the new era. After the tournament, the press began to pick up on what was going on. When questioned about the split, Eric Bristow said to the news of the world “People talk about the two sides getting together, There is no chance of that with Olly (Croft) around. He’s only interested in running the whole show. So we’ll have our pro circuit, and the BDO can run the amateur game. “
The New Era of the Sport
A spectator watching Taylor come second in a World Championship would want to remember that moment, as its something they wouldn’t see again for a long time. What Taylor achieved in the next decade had never been seen before in the sport. In 1995, there was a moment that stuck with Taylor for the rest of his career. Waiting in the wings, Peter Judge, the boss of Floor operations, asked Taylor his nickname. With Taylor not having chosen the Crafty Potter for himself, he shrugged implying he didn’t have one. Judge told him that the walk-on music would be The Power by the band Snap!. From this point on, Taylor would be known as The Power.
Taylor found himself in his second WDC World Championship final in two years. He played Rodney Harrington in the final. Harrington going into the game had the bragging rights, beating Taylor the last three times the pair had met in previous finals. However, this was their first meeting in a World Championship final. Taylor had knocked out Bob Anderson 4-1 and John Lowe 5-4 to make his way to the final.
Harrington wasn’t able to stop an in-form Taylor. The newly named Power took a 6-2 victory to claim his 3rd World Title and his first in the WDC. After this game, Taylor said that Eric Bristow praised him to his face, which was rare, as he normally did it behind his back, with Eric saying “You can win as many world titles as you want mate”. Taylor would be quoted as commenting on this by saying “praise from Cesare is praise indeed.” Taylor also claimed another major title in 1995, beating Dennis Priestley to win his first world Matchplay. In a best of 31 legs game, Taylor took the win 16-11 to get his hands on another major title.
A year later in 1996, Taylor would be back at the Circus Tavern, defending his World Title for the 3rd time in his career. Taylor knocked out Keith Dellar 4-0 in the quarter-final and John Lowe 5-1 in the semi-final to make back to the final for the third time in a row. Waiting for him was Dennis Priestly in a reply of the Matchplay final the year prior and the inaugural World Championship final.
The game was on a knife-edge, with Taylor eventually taking a 5-4 set lead, meaning The Power needed just one more set to win the match. He took two legs in a row to put himself on the verge of the win. However, in the third leg, Priestly got back to back 180s to set himself up for a nine-dart finish. This lead to a heated moment between the competitors, with Priestly taking his time to celebrate the second 180. Taylor responded with one of his own and walked up to Priestly before jerking his head forward in celebration in his opponent’s face. There were smiles between the two, showing it wasn’t in anger, but still displayed the finalists’ tension. Priestly stepped back up to the oche, hitting a treble 17 but missing on the treble 18 to kill the nine-dart dream. Taylor wasn’t able to check on his next go, leaving himself 30. Priestly stepped back to the board, needing 60. After hitting the 20, he missed two darts at the double. The Power did not need another chance and took the game set and match with his second dart. Taylor had defended his title, winning his second World Championship in a row and his fourth overall. He became the first player since Bristow to defend a World Championship and only the second player to do so.
His following year, Taylor sought to become the second player to win three finals back to back. However, this competition had even higher stakes for Taylor. If he could win the championship, he would level the record of 5 world titles, both of which his mentor set. Yet, the reigning champion had a technical issue with his darts going into the competition. He had found that his dart grip had been uncomfortable, so his new sponsor, Unicorn Darts, would have their expert Alex Ross work with Taylor on a solution. He decided to add an extra ring of grip to the darts to help keep more control when throwing. With this setback behind him, the four-time champion, had one less worry going into the tournament.
After progressing through the group stages, Taylor once again met Keith Deller in the knockouts. He moved on through this round, with a dominant victory margin of 5-1. This win would earn him a surprise meeting with an old rival. Having beaten Alan Warriner 5-3, his mentor and old friend Eric Bristow was his next opponent, their first meeting in the World Championship since Taylor had triumphed over him in the final in 1990. After many years of not making it out of the group stages of the competition, Bristow had finally made his first knockout round since the start of the WDC Championship. The match itself was a hard-fought affair, Bristow’s confidence was high, and even though Taylor had kept his cool, the Crafty Cockney was by no means out of the game.
As the match came close to a close, Taylor had a 4-3 set lead and a 2-1 lead in legs, meaning he needed just one more leg to take the tie and end up in another final. Bristow had other plans. He took the next two legs, bringing the game level at four sets apiece. The tricky veteran tried his best not to let The Power play his natural game. Taylor would recall that “Sky delayed the start of the 9th set by five minutes and still they (the crowd) were singing ‘Walking in a Bristow Wonderland’ and ‘There’s only one Eric Bristow’.” It was clear who the fan favourite was. The last set had to be won by two clear legs. Taylor fought to take a 4-3 lead, finally silencing the crowd. Bristow missed two darts at double eight to give Taylor a chance to take the game. He didn’t disappoint. Checking out on double two, Taylor made his way to another final, and who better to meet there than the man he bested the year prior, Dennis Priestley.
The Power described the final as “not a classic” as, having faced Priestley many times, he had adapted to his slow-paced game. Taylor took a 5-3 lead in the game, going into the 9th set. The Power took a 2-1 leg lead, but Dennis ‘The Menace’ Priestley had a chance to level the game at a three dart finish. Needing 122, he sent his first dart into the Treble 18. His second slipped into the single 18, leaving the Bull to check. The menace hit the outer ring scoring 25, leaving Taylor the chance to wrap up the match. Needing just 32, he only needed one dart to take the double 16 and the match. Taylor had won his 5th world title, matching Eric Bristow’s record and had now won three titles in a row, taking the prize money of £45,000.
In April 1997, the WDC signed a £1,000,000 contract with Sky Sports, including secured darts television coverage. Although, there was a more significant moment in the early part of this year. The court case between the WDC and BDO had finally come to a head. Both sides’ legal costs were high, with the WDC having spent around £300,000 and the BDO around £200,000. In June 1997, the case had made its way to the high court, and with the case looking likely to drag on, the two barristers worked out a deal.
On the 30th June 1997, it was ruled that the BDO would remove their ban on WDC players and pay a £35,000 to be used on Equipment hire. On the other side, The WDC would have to drop the ‘World’ from its name, leading the organisation to change its name to the PDC. It was also agreed, the top 16 players from either parties world championship, should not be permitted to enter the others’ competitions in the immediate following year. This outcome meant players could play in any tournament, no matter which organisation oversaw them. Despite this outcome, tensions were still be high between representatives of the two sides, and even though the case was settled, relations had not changed at all.
After these events passed, The Power won the 1997 World Matchplay. He bested Gary Mawson 8-0, and Mick Manning 8-2 to get to the quarter-final. He took down Bob Anderson 11-2 and then Rod Harrington 13-9 in the semi-final to set up a final with Alan Warriner. The game was a battle, with the match going being level at 8-8. Both competitors looked strong throughout. The reigning world champion fought hard for a 16-11 win, the same result as his last matchplay final win, to bring the trophy home for the second time.
However, there was a low moment to come for the master dart player during these prosperous times. In the summer of 1997, Phil’s father passed away from stomach cancer. He had only been diagnosed with it months earlier, not long after going in for an operation.Embed from Getty Images
Breaking Uncharted Ground
With the 1998 World Championship drawing ever closer, Taylor was now looking to set new records. Having levelled many of the game’s highest achievements, it would take one more title to begin cementing his legacy as the greatest of all time. The Power entered the competition as the favourite. After again making it through the group, he quickly found his way to the quarter-final, where he played Shane Burgess. Taylor had the better darts with a match average of 101.85, taking the match 4-0. His next game was an affair with the Prince Of Style, Rodney Harrington. Although the game’s early stages were even with the score at 2-2, The defending Champion stepped up his game and found his way to a 5-2 win. Taylor earned an outstanding 103.08 average throughout this game, the highest of the tournament so far. This win set up a familiar match once again, The Power vs The Menace.
For the third year running Taylor vs Priestley was the final. However, unlike in previous years, this wasn’t not be such a close-knit affair. The game was clinched with a 12 darter with a 104 checkout checked on Double 16. Taylor blew the previous champion out of the water, taking a 6-0 win and only dropping two legs all match, none in the first four sets and with a 103.99 average. This was a new record average in the PDC World Championship final and knockout rounds.
Taylor had emphatically set new landmarks yet again. He was a six-time World Champion with four wins back to back. However, this wasn’t the first thing on his mind, with Taylor later recounting “My first thought was of my dad, if only he had been sitting down there with Yvonne and the kids”.
Later that year, the darts world brought a new challenge for Taylor in the form of a new tournament, the World Grand Prix in the Casino Rooms nightclub in Rochester. Taylor entered this tournament as 3rd seed, but this tournament was slightly different from the other PDC majors. It was a double-to-start competition, referred to as double in, double out. This meant to start scoring, contestants would first have to hit a double and check on one as usual. This seemed no problem for Taylor, who beat Steve Brown in the first round 11-2, John Lowe in the Quarter-final 11-4 and Shayne Burgess in the Semi-final 11-2, setting up a final with Rodney Harrington. As always between these two, the match would be close. However, The Power came out victorious with a final winning margin of 13-8 on legs. He could now add this competition to his list of triumphs, a trophy, at this time, no one else could say they’d won.
Both fans and players alike could see The Power was surging ahead of his competitors, and with the 1999 World Championship in the holders’ sights, he was looking to make it five unbeaten. This tournament’s layout was different from previous years, as now for the first time in a PDC World Championship there wasn’t group stage, just a straight knock out competition. Despite the recent success, the defending champion came into the tournament as 3rd seed.
Taylor took a first-round victory over Reg Harding in straight sets 3-0, with a new tournament record 105.04 average. He defeated John Lowe 3-1 in the second round, setting up a quarter-final with Bob Anderson. The Limestone Cowboy never really get going, and The Power breezed through with a 4-0 winning scoreline. Taylor recounted after the game “I could hear Bob Anderson shouting behind me ‘that man is a machine'”. A Semi-final clash with Warriner saw a meeting between the highest two remaining seeded players. The Iceman was the reigning champions most formidable challenge so far, taking a 2-1 set lead, before the number three seed would draw the game level with a 12 dart finish. Taylor took the 5th set with 14, and two 13 dart finishes to make it 3-2, eventually winning 5-3. Taylor found himself in the final once again, but this time against a new opposition, Peter ‘One Dart’ Manley. Taylor showed why he was holding champion, storming into a 3-0 lead. Manley put on a small fightback to keep it at 4-1. However, in the fifth leg, Taylor would checkout a ten dart game, finishing on Double 8. The Power never relinquished control, going on to take the game 6-2.
It was almost becoming a yearly tradition for Taylor to take home a World Championship Trophy. With seven titles to his name, he certainly had a place amongst the game’s all-time greats. He had now won as many World Championships in a row as Bristow had in his whole career.
Blackpool beckoned once again for Taylor. After taking down Ronnie Baxter 10-5, Reg Harding 13-10, and Chris Mason 16-11, The Power found his way to the semi-final. The game would be a repeat of the World Championship final between Taylor and Manley. Although this time, Manley got some revenge, booking a ticket to the final 17-14. Despite this setback, Taylor remained focused. The Grand Prix was around the corner, providing the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways.
After progressing through the group stages, Taylor found himself in the first round against Peter Evison, taking the match 3-0, with Evison not winning a single leg. The defending champion also earned an extremely high a 101.71 average to start competition. This win set up another big semi-final clash with The Prince of Style. In a game that came down to the wire, Taylor edged out a 5-4 win which brought him up against Shayne ‘ The Bulldog’ Burgess. Burgess, despite playing well throughout the tournament, could not show up on the night and The Power retained his title after a 6-1 victory. Taylor had now won this competition for both its opening years. It was also around this time Taylor started putting together a record that continued until 2001. He began a remarkable run that would see him win 30 consecutive televised matches.
Away from the major competitions, another big match was brewing in the negotiation rooms. A young Dutchman had started to dominate the BDO. His name was Raymond van Barneveld. There was an idea pitched for a deal for him to play Taylor in a ‘match of the century’. After many negations and disapproval from the BDO, who were worried a Taylor win would be a colossal bragging right in favour of the PDC, the game eventually went ahead at the Wembley Conference Center. It was decided that there would be a £60,000 prize for the winner and £40,000 for the runner up in a best of 31 legs format.
The first few legs went with the throw, but with the game at 5-3 in Taylor’s favour, The Power took four legs in a row. Barney finally won a back to keep the game at 9-4 at the halfway interval. After the break, the first leg went to the Dutchman, but the current World Champion had found his feet. Taylor put daylight between the players, going into a 13-6 lead. Barney was unable to respond, with the PDC player increasing his lead to 15-6. At the end of it all, The Power took the match 21-10. This game would be the starting point of future rivalry between the two professionals, spanning the length of Taylor’s career.
Despite this win, Taylor had set his sights on a bigger target, what was known at the time as a Grand Slam. The Grand Slam was the achievement of holding the World Championship, the World Matchplay and the Grand Prix simultaneously. Having already won the Grand Prix, a defence of his World Championship crown was required to set up a chance at Blackpool.
With Taylor on the verge of making history going into the new millennium, there didn’t seem like much could stand in his way. With Purfleet once again looming and the defence of his Championship calling, The Power would have the chance to make more history and claim more titles.