Column #HR217 THANK YOU Philip Douglas Taylor!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Column HR217
THANK YOU Philip Douglas Taylor!

The opening line of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It is “All the world’s a stage.” No one remembers that the Old Dart Coach – before he was he Old Dart Coach – appeared in Mrs. Warren’s 9th grade class production of As You Like It at Elmhurst Jr. High. Playing Duke Senior (Act 5, Scene 4) he emoted, “Doust thou believe, Orlando, that the boy can do all this he hath promised?”

(The Shakespeare of As You Like It was a not the William Shakespeare that invented the Level-wind Fishing Reel and Tackle Company.)

The ODC loves to note that, “Sports writes stories that if they came from Hollywood no one would believe.” The stage for the world of darts was London’s Alexandra Palace, called the Ally Pally, when Phil “The Power” would make his final appearance against Rob Cross in the finals of the 2018 William Hill PDC World Championship.

The Hollywood scenario would have had Taylor winning his 101st TV championship and 17th World Championship in dramatic fashion, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. There was a touch of Bollywood with the crowd singing, dancing and costumed in the finest of fashion.

That was the setup. The script was written with the champagne on ice.

Beth Dunkenberger is an assistant women’s basketball coach at Tulane University. She’s known for saying “That’s why we play the game.”

Every man, women and child is familiar with the story of Cinderella and how she turned into her “the chambermaid self” when the clock struck midnight.

For the PDC World Championships Phil Taylor was Cinderella. To be honest I was lucky to be in the finals – Addie, Wright, Wade and Chizzy all lost.

Taylor could do no wrong as it was destiny that he would go out in style ending a magnificent career that would place his name with other all-time greats like Mr. John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, Bob Anderson and “Mr. Sparkle” Bobby George.

Faith is a cruel mistress.

Back in 1990 at the Embassy World Darts Championship (Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, Surrey), a young dart player – Phil Taylor – was matched up against his teacher Eric Bristow who at a time (along with Mr. John Lowe) ruled the Kingdom of Darts. Bristow was the Crafty Cockney, the master of all he surveyed. Going for his 6th Embassy, Bristow would become a cropper to his prodigy Phil Taylor 6-1.

Rob Cross, a 27-year-old former electrician, was the real Cinderella when he reached the final dispatching “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen in a 6-5 nail biter. The final set went 11 legs after van Gerwen missed six match darts in the10th leg for the win. Taylor’s semi-final win came over Jamie Lewis. Taylor dropped the first set after leading 2-0 but then took the next 6 on the trot for the 6-1 win. Young Jamie has the ability to beat anyone. To be honest when we played he let the moment get to him.

In the final, Cross with four European tour wins during the year lead from the opening throw. He built a 3-0 lead which included 167 and 153 outs to win sets 2 and 3. Taylor would win the 4th set (3-0) before losing the next three 3-0, 3-1, 3-1. Down 6-1, Taylor would win his second and last set 3-0 before losing 7-2.

Americans remember the great Ted Williams hitting a home run in his last at bat…

Taylor had a chance for a “Ted Williams moment” in the 5th set. Throwing second, he hit 180-180-60-57 – leaving double 12 for the perfect game. He missed with his dart leaning down on the top wire. Oh yes, he lost the leg.

Rob Cross’s performance was dominating with only two players during the tournament averaging more than his 107.67 average for the final. In total legs, he swamped Taylor 21-10.

By lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy Cross collected £400,000 – $543,516 and a meaningless 62 cents – which doubled his career earnings to date.

The players (with one well documented exception) acted like true professionals. That’s more than can be said for the mob that attended many sessions. The Sage of Sittingbourne Dave Whitcombe, never shy to voice his well-thought out opinions, posted, Saw some things tonight and it was an absolute disgrace. Well done Rob Cross, but the match never deserved the morons whistling and booing Van Gerwen when he was going for a finish. It seems to be a lot worse now or I’m imagining it. It isn’t MVG’s fault he’s #1and the best player. If he was American and this was in America, they would have given him the best order, they like winners, we don’t for some reason.

A visitor who attended the Saturday session had a similar view. A vast majority were not even watching the games but chanting in large groups and were totally disruptive towards those trying to watch the game being played. My son reckoned that a vast majority were football hooligans that had probably been banned from attending football matches and had now found a new sport to behave like idiots.

When Big Ben struck midnight on January 1, 2018, welcoming in the New Year it also signaled a new era in the PDC. For 20 years, they’ve had Phil Taylor and his many rivalries. Now he’s gone. The proof that the PDC has moved on is that Phil Taylor’s name has disappeared from the rankings. It took effect the moment the doors of the PDC office opened on Tuesday morning.

Taylor left the PDC a hell of a lot better than when it was founded. Now, that burden is passed to others. Said Taylor, To be honest Rob Cross is a really good player. He’s capable of beating anyone. Raymond and I had a great rivalry. Now, it might be Cross and van Gerwen.

If you see tears they’re tears of joy. I’ve had a good 20 years. Of course there are some things I would change especially in my personal life which has been well documented.

“Down three nil, what were you thinking?” Taylor was asked…

Don’t lose 7-nil.

The final act of the Phil Taylor “play” wasn’t written in Hollywood but in reality. There are few that can handle reality with grace…

On January 1, 2018, Phil Taylor handled the ride into the competitive sunset with style, grace and humor. There will never be another Phil Taylor just as there was never another Eric Bristow, Mr. John Lowe, Jocky Wilson or Bob Anderson. Their achievements and personalities were unique. They all had what Hollywood calls “It.” So did Taylor.

THANK YOU Philip Douglas Taylor!

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.