#HR135 Is Phil Taylor Britain’s greatest living sportsman?

Sunday, April 12, 2015
Column HR135
Is Phil Taylor Britain’s greatest living sportsman?

In life there are always surprises.  With the Old Dart Coach currently on tour of various historical sites in Pattaya Beach, Thailand he has yet to be placed on a short tether for his behavior, possibility with a choke chain for good measure.  That can be called a gigantic surprise.

No longer able to play darts (the comment, “he never could” is out of order), the ODC is taking an interest in the local Pattaya Dart League.  While ambling down Second Road to watch Mr. Stefan Lord play at Wanky Tanky, the sounds of a female singing the Elton John-Kinky Dee hit “Stumbling In” (an ODC Fav) caught his attention.  The singer was a Thai lady that was not nearly as tall as she was wide.  So he sat down, ordered up a San Miguel Light (with ice), fired up a fine cigar and sang along as her set included “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” and Mama Cass’ “Wedding Bell Blues.”  For 20 minutes, he smoked, drank and sang – in the key of ugly – although not to the amusement of a large number of males that definitely were not there for the music.  Those would be the same guys that go to Go-Go’s, not for the dancing.

Then on to Wanky Tanky. An older Thai player was pretty darn good.  He was also pretty darn stupid. Playing a younger Thai, he was usually around the triple 20.  Unfortunately, when he missed the triple it was above (tail down), blocking any reasonable chance of finding a triple with ensuing throws.  He let his ego get in the way and kept trying the impossible.

It’s written “All men are created equal” – which may be true, but it’s what someone does after being “created” that counts in life.  In sports, it’s winning and losing.  Watching the older Thai get a spanking took the ODC back many years when a young beginning player challenged him to a match.  It was 301, best of five, double in double out. The ODC won 3-0. Piece of cake.  Why?  Stupid opponent.

“I’m better than you.”

“Really, seems I just beat you 3-0.”

“I’m still better.”

“Okay, let me ‘splain it to you.  You got down to 52 when I was around 100.  You threw for the single 20 and hit the triple busted.  I took it out.”

“I like 32!”

“How would you know – you never got to it.”

Beginning players don’t have a favorite number.  You can’t hit a double if you never get to one. If a beginning player learns to hit 1 and double 1 they’ll win a majority of their matches.  They should call beginner’s leagues “The race to the ace.”

On the way back to his “no star” hotel the ODC heard a male voice singing “The Little Old Wine Maker” – the Dean Martin hit.  How prophetic that some 24 hours by plane from California with the rain coming down like a “cow going #1 on a flat rock” came the words, “They’re praying for  rain in California so the grapes can grow and they can make more wine.”  In truth, praying in the People’s Republic of California is probably not on the agenda.  On the bright side, they did siphon zillions of gallons of water into the ocean to save a stupid little silver fish who can’t play darts.

Yes, darters are well aware “not all men are created equal.” Dart players will argue that one Philip Douglas Taylor wasn’t created equal to them.  In a rather long piece which went viral on Facebook, in the UK’s Guardian newspaper Ed Caesar extols the various talents of Taylor.  There are many.

One darter, Danny, suggested that some “pictures” would have helped the story.  The ODC agrees with Danny.  In the article, it is written…

There is no doubt that Taylor is the finest darts player of all time.  Some observers have also described Taylor as Britain’s greatest living sportsman, and many find that label laughable.

Label the ODC as one grabbing his rather ample sides while hooting with laughter.

If Taylor is Britain’s “greatest living sportsman” then Eddie the Eagle must have finished second.  How about Jackie Stewart or Sir Nick Faldo?

Is Taylor the best of his era?  “Ab so f’ing” lootly.”

Comparing athletics from one era to another is stupid. Baseball discounts the home run records of  Barry Bonds, Mark Maguire, and Sammy Sosa. They and the ball were juiced to the gills with bats carrying more cork that a truck load of California wine.  Taylor has better equipment – darts and boards – so it’s now different game.

Mr. Caesar would do well to revise his story to include Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Jocky Wilson, and Leighton Rees.

The dart world has realized that it’s possible the Taylor era is over.

There’s a guy named “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen, who is “tearing up the old pea patch.”  He recently annexed the German Dart Masters, grabbing the “hat trick” for the PDC European Tour and raising his Order of Merit earnings to £1 million.

Not to be discounted is that Taylor struggled early on. Unlike “greats” Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods he didn’t come out of the gate winging.  He struggled before hitting his stride. He also met Lowe, Bristow, Wilson, and Anderson at the downside of their completive years.

It helped greatly that Taylor had great players for him to compete against – in van Barneveld and John Part.  Got to have dance partners.  In a recent Premier League game against van Barneveld, down 2-4 he missed five darts for the leg.  That’s not the old Taylor.

A sub-plot of the Guardian story was “Can the PDC and TV live without Taylor?”  Of course.

Majordomo Barry Hearn has magnificently managed the PDC, making them a TV and betting winner.  The PDC has tweaked events to make them more TV friendly.  In sports, like blind dates, fans like scoring. The PDC dartboard encourages scoring and high averages.  The betting angle’s frosting on the cake.

Unlike in many sports, Hearn has left money for the  good everyday players.  The Players Championship Tour is made for them.

Yes, Phil Taylor was the best of his era.

And as any aficionado of porn can tell you, “All men are not created equal.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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