Column #HR206 DARN U, Phil Taylor!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Column HR206
DARN U, Phil Taylor!

Not because of your brilliant play for your 16th World Matchplay title…

Philip Douglas Taylor “wrote” a script that, if from Hollywood, would not pass the smell test. For him to win the Matchplay after not winning a major since 2014 is the stuff from which myths are made. His fans can open a nice Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1978, or just order another pint of lager in a plastic cup, to celebrate his greatness. It is real.

The Old Dart Coach has a good friend. Ron Kantowski is the reigning Sportswriter of the Year in Nevada. He once told the ODC about “Evergreen columns” – explaining that when covering an event it’s sometimes wise to pre-write a large portion of the column. The ODC did.

For the World Matchplay the ODC created an Evergreen column. It was titled “The “Mid-Summer Classic” – and carried £500,000 in prize money and a nifty £115,000 to “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen who obviously was going to win.

To substantiate his view the ODC quoted Dr. “WB” Linda Batten: “van Gerwen is the best player in the world and he knows it.”

While predicting a winner is a little presumptuous the ODC is familiar with the role. He added, “MvG will win it in a walk.” Yes, presumptuous and in retrospect stupid. Actually, it is with both situations that the ODC is very familiar.

Phil Taylor won his 16th World Matchplay while making his farewell trip to Blackpool. The road to another title seemed dim as he would have to conquer Raymond van Barneveld just to reach “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen in the quarter finals.

Barneveld, the Dour Dutchman, seemed less interested in playing darts than a vegetarian might be with the menu at Ruth Crisp’s Steakhouse. He did seem interested in changing stems during play – this reminded one of a baby playing with his toes. Barney hit only 3 of 14 doubles on his way to the short end of an 11-3 drubbing. To set up the Taylor-van Gerwen quarter match the “Marvelous One” dismantled Simon Whitlock 11-3.

Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis was coming off back surgery to the extent that when there was a break in play (they break after 5 legs as TV adverts are important) he would sit backstage. During his 16-13 win over Scotsman Alan Norris he tried to blow a 13-5 lead. At that time the ODC was calling for a “mercy rule.”

Taylor-van Gerwen wasn’t classic darts but an old time execution where the victim knows the result and is just waiting for the last meal. Taylor had leads of 4-0, 8-1, 12-3 and 15-2 before winning 16-6. Both averaged a tad over 100 which is good, not great, with the tale being told in the checkout stats. Taylor hit 16 of 28 while van Gerwen hit a woeful 6 of 27. Like Barney, van Gerwen folded like a cheap suit in the first rain.

Taylor continued his good play with an easy 17-9 win over Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis. The match had its moments as Taylor came from 3-1 down to level at 4 and 7 before blowing it open taking 10 of the next 12 legs.

It the worst game of darts in the history of the world Peter Wright outlasted Daryl Gurney 17-15. This excruciating viewing torture took the best part of two hours. In legs 15-16, with Wright leading 11-9, it took 17 darts at a double by Wright to win the legs. Wright’s “outie” that constantly peeked out of his canary yellow shirt like the eraser on a number 9 pencil was equally ugly.

Taylor won his 16th World Matchplay title with a convincing 18-8 win over Peter Wright. Taylor led 1-0 against the darts to establish a lead he never relinquished. The £115,000 will fit nicely in the Taylor bank account.

It was truly a victory for the ages. All Hail King Phil.

The ODC wrote, “You can take the’ dart-playing-potter-lout’ out of Stroke but you can’t take the ‘lout’ out of the ‘dart-playing-potter’ from Stoke.” Phil Taylor’s lack of grace during his career would have had other players sitting on the sidelines. Make no mistake – he was the engine that made the PDC what it is today. As such there were rules for darters and then other rules for Phil Taylor. He was the pampered spoiled child. That’s the way of the world.

On July 31, 2013, Toeing the Oche printed the following headline from the Daily Sun

“POWER FAILURE… Bristow calls Taylor a cheat over missed double 12.”

The headline refers to a missed double at the World Matchplay that year that the referee Russ Bray mistakenly called in. Taylor pulled his darts saying afterwards, “I don’t look at my darts when I pull them out.” That was as believable as when he said his change of darts wasn’t for the money.

Following his semi-final dismantling win over van Gerwen the loutish Taylor was in full view. First, on TV, he attacked van Gerwen for not “being concerned about playing him.” Consider that van Gerwen had won 42 TV finals in a row as Taylor’s darts have been, for a professional, average. Then he called van Gerwen “stupid” adding, ‘I’m going to tell him.”

He saved his most loutish behavior for TV commentator Wayne Mardle. Turning to the crowd of sycophantic fans he said, “Wayne Mardle speaks rubbish. Doesn’t Wayne Mardle talk rubbish?”

Mardle’s crime seems to have been that he pointed out, correctly, that Phil Taylor was not the dominate player as he was in the past. Just for the record Wayne Mardle’s job is to commentate on darts. Phil Taylor’s job was to play darts. Mardle has done his job lately a hell of a lot better than Taylor has done his.

One person wrote, “Hopefully Taylor will be in the commentary box…”

Tungsten God, please save us.

The requirement(s) for someone in the commentary booth is the ability to be articulate while displaying an interesting personality.

Taylor has neither.

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.