Taylor on his amazing double nine-darter night…
THE power cut couldn’t stop The Power.
It was arguably one of the most incredible 24 hours in the history of the sport.
It’s now 10 years since Phil Taylor hit two nine-darters in an epic Premier League final 10-8 win over James Wade at Wembley Arena.
Just a day earlier, the original staging had been called off due to a power cut.
But it was worth the wait.
Taylor went on to create history watched by Stephen Fry in one of the greatest finals the sport has ever seen.
Oche’s Phil Lanning got an exclusive chat with the 16-times World Champion on how the night panned out from his perspective.
Oche: What do you remember about that dramatic 24 hours, including the power cut the day before?
Phil Taylor: Do you know what sticks in my mind, John McDonald showed so much bottle. He had to go outside with three and a half, four thousand people and tell them ‘it’s off’.
“He was saying ‘it’s not my fault, I’ve not turned the plug off’. It was just one of those things, bless his heart. Because everything has to reset itself, they couldn’t put it back on again so they had to wait until the next day.
O: James was the defending champion, the score was 10-8, your twin nine-darters actually made the difference?
PT: To be honest with you, nine-darters in that game, you could have done eight nine-darters it wouldn’t have made a scrap of difference. It still would have been 10-8.
It was one of those games. I remember coming off for a break and telling Rod Harrington there could be two nine-darters in this game.
I wasn’t saying that I was going to hit them, maybe get one each. We were both practising and playing that well and both full of confidence.
The crowd, I wouldn’t say 50/50, I’ve played in good atmospheres but the atmosphere was probably the best I’ve ever played in.
O: James was your closest rival and had ended your 44-game unbeaten PL run two years earlier.
PT: James was the man to beat on the short format because his finishing was so good. One of the best finishers I’ve ever seen right now is Fallon (Sherrock).
She’s absolutely brilliant when she’s around the mid-numbers up to about 120 or 130. She’s absolutely spot on.
But James was another one. If he ever left anything down the right handside of the board it’s goodnight Vienna. He very rarely missed tops or double 10s.
Out of any other player, he’s got the edge on finishing. Adrian (Lewis) and Gary (Anderson) are good on their day,
James has been very consistent over the years. And once he’s scoring good, you know you’re up against it.
O: How did that night rank in your career?
PT: It was just a tournament really that I wanted to win. It wasn’t so much about the money but winning my title back.
We had a day off and an extra day practising. I remember Dave (Clark) telling me after the semis that I had a 108 average which is massive. So you know you’re on song, done everything right, you’ve got your rest in, you’ve dedicated yourself and I wasn’t tired. I had that extra day of rest. It really did help me.
O: In 2010 you were Sports Personality of the Year runner-up, do you think that night was the single biggest factor why people voted for you?
PT: Yes probably. It’s a massive feat. It’s sets a record really. All the players want to break records. Michael (Van Gerwen) loves competing against my records, which he should do.
I was the same with Eric (Bristow) and John (Lowe). It was a talking point. I didn’t realise what I’d done. I wish now I’d got the third one. But on the day you’re just happy to win the leg.
O: A bus pulled up the next morning and the doors opened and the driver shouted: “Good one Phil” and taxis were honking their horns.
PT: I think everybody used to have a little bet. A bit like the Grand National. Everyone used to have that sneaky tenner on a nine-darter because the odds used to be so good. In those days it was like 30 or 40-1. The odds now are nowhere near that.
O: The match was played in a good spirit? Was anything said during the match between you and James?
PT: It was really friendly. I’ve had some finals where it’s been a bit naughty. The one with James, no.
The only thing he did which I remember was when I came backstage, he came across, shook my hand, shrugged his shoulders and said ‘I wasn’t good enough and I’ve got to get better’.
And I said ‘not much better’. That was probably my A game, I couldn’t get any better than that, except hitting that third nine-darter.
O: Do you know you are going to hit a nine-darter, in the moment?
PT: Yes you know you’re going to be close. You’re looking at the scores and thinking if I miss double 12 at least I’ve got another three darts at the double after because you are that far in front. I think sometimes you hit the nine-darter because they are on a finish.
You’ve got no choice, you’ve got to hit it. If you miss, you’ll lose the leg and there’s nothing worse than hitting two 180s and then missing a nine-darter and losing the leg.
It’s like someone sticking a dagger in your back. It’s horrible. So the one thing you don’t want to do is lose that leg, which obviously I didn’t!
O: A word on Sid Waddell and Dave Lanning’s commentary, they sort of summed it up perfectly. Dave’s line “You are present in a moment of the greatest sporting history” was emotional…
PT: It was unbelievable, Stephen Fry as well. Sid and Dave were like Morecambe and Wise, they were brilliant. I’ve never known two commentators like it.
Dave was so knowledgeable and Sid was so funny. I know you’ve got the new commentators now Rod Studd and
Wayne Mardle who are very good. But I think Sid and Dave will never be replaced.
They were the ultimate for me. That was my era anyway. So I love them two.
John Gwynne came along and he was another great character. It was a full show, we got great MCs with Phil (Williams) and John McDonald and it was brilliant. Sky came along and it made it brilliant.
O: It was a Hollywood night for darts, a major step for darts with Stephen Fry at Wembley as well, do you think it elevated the sport?
PT: I do, it created a new audience. Stephen is massive on his social media and I kept in touch with Stephen after that, we text each other. He just loves the darts, he admires anyone who is good at whatever they do.
He knows what you have to put into it. One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard was ‘Are you OK Stephen, I’m like a pig in Chardonnay’. I’d never heard that before and I thought it was brilliant.
For his first live darts match and first time in a commentary box at the best game ever on TV, I think, is an extra bonus.
O: On the same night, England beat Mexico 3-1, coming out of Wembley all the fans were not talking about football but Phil Taylor hitting two nine-darters. It must make you feel good?
PT: It’s a pat on the back, it’s fantastic. These are things you’d never know. You don’t realise. Barry Hearn used to tell me off and say ‘you don’t realise how famous you are’.
You got to different places and you meet other sports celebrities and I wonder how they know who I am.
You’re just on the stage on your own with a TV camera. It’s so strange. It’s very humbling and nice to hear that.
You know when you’ve done well, you get 10 times more text messages than normal!
O: Have you ever watched it back?
PT: I’ve just watched it back for the PDC. But on the bible, I’d never previously watched it back. I’ve seen bits when I hit the nine-darters but if it came on the TV I’d get up and make a cup of coffee or something.
O: What did you do after the PL final match in 2010?
PT: I didn’t do anything, I don’t do much celebrations. By the time you’ve done all your commitments it’s probably half
11, so maybe go to the bar and have one drink with the family and a sandwich.
Get a round of drinks and it will probably have cost me 500 quid!
O: Were you aware of how good you were playing?
PT: I wasn’t thinking about making history, not in the slightest. I was more worried about winning the tournament. James was playing that well. Once you play in the semi-final and you know you are playing well and a massive average, that’s a massive shot over their bows.
You want your opponent to play well because you want a decent game. The games where I’ve won five or six nils, they’re not really good. It’s not nice to be involved in. If you win the World Final 7-0 great but you want a bit of a battle. You want to entertain the crowd. The atmosphere there was so good.
The second nine-darter made me realise a bit. The first one he went out 136 in 12 and then I did a nine-darter but it’s only one leg all. Oh well. If it had been a £50,000 cheque for hitting a nine-darter, I’d have been nervous then.
You don’t think about it, you just get ready for the next leg.
O: Will it ever be repeated?
PT: Course it can, maybe even three nine-darters. The way things are now with the coronavirus and everything, I don’t know what’s going to happen to sport in the future, any sport, whether it’s football, golf, snooker. Whether we’ll ever get the atmospheres like we had before, I don’t know.
I know we’ve still got exhibitions and we’ve sold out which are scheduled for September and October, so people are still wanting to come and watch the darts.
It depends on fans and the atmosphere. It’s like if you pay football behind closed doors, it just doesn’t seem the same.
Could it happen? 100 per cent. Peter Wright could do it, Gerwyn Price could do it, the way he’s been practising. Gary
Anderson definitely could and Michael. Adrian (Lewis) could, it all depends on the day and how they feel.
Now they’ve had a rest, you will see the best darts coming out now.
O: Nine-darters in practice, is that true when players say that?
PT: When you are practising you are just throwing at the board. You can hit two 180s, you are not going for nine-darters, it’s just part of your practicing routine.
Players hit them all the time. I’ve been with Peter Wright when he’s hit them. I’ve hit them on the practice board. But that’s just a sign that you are playing well. With me if I did it on a practice board, I did it up there. I know how I’m practising when I’m playing well.
Some players used to practice terribly and then go on stage and throw out their skin. I was the opposite. If I practiced
bad, I played bad on stage.
O: Did you keep the darts?
PT: No I used to give them away to the kids with the board or whatever. Then personal friends would ask me if they could have a set, some went to charities. The only darts I have in the house now and three sets of new ones.
O: If you could retrieve any single dart from any single match, any shot you’ve hit, which one would it be?
PT: The first nine-darter. I know the lad who had it, Stan, sadly he’s passed away now. Sky wanted to borrow the board off him, he told them no!
(The Matchplay 2002) That’s probably the best one ever. The prize money was £100,000, it was only £30,000 for winning the tournament, so you can imagine getting three times as much for a nine-darter.
We had a Chinese meal the night before and I think the odds were something like 33-1. I had some change left and my mate Roger said ‘what do I do with this 15 quid’. I said ‘put it on a nine-darter for tomorrow’. And I got it. I remember looking across and saying ‘did you get the money?’ Sadly my daughter realised I’d won 500 quid and that went in my daughter’s purse.