Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor Exclusive Interview
PHIL TAYLOR dominates his sport like no other athlete in the World. He has won the World Championship for 15 out of the last 20 years. A spate of recent defeats, albeit unusual, has led to talk that the man they call ‘The Power’ has lost his bottle.
When you consider that in the last year alone he has set a new record three-dart average of 118.66, in a 9-0 victory over Kevin Painter, and also managed two perfect nine-dart legs – in the one match against James Wade – then talk of his demise seems greatly exaggerated.So how does Taylor account for his dominance?
“In my life, it’s been dedication. It really has. I’ve done 25 years of dedication. Not doing what most other people do. Not going nightclubbing and whatever else. Bit boring really, I suppose,” he says.
Anybody who has ever stepped up to the oche will know that Taylor’s consistently outstanding performances over the last two decades are far from boring.
It’s true that Taylor has been beaten four times in a month – including defeats to Wade in the Championship League and Simon Whitlock in the Irish Masters in Killarney – but he feels he can lay some of the blame on his hectic schedule.
“I’ve been doing a lot of travelling. A lot of late nights and early mornings, [I’m] getting older.
“I’ve had 20 years at the top. I’ve won hundreds of titles. And now and again it happens. It’s just one of those things. You just have to get on with it. Take a break, get back up there on the practice board and put it right,” he says casually.
THE BIG ONE
Ahead of the World Championships, which starts on December 16, Taylor will begin a new training regime to ensure that his is in the right condition to defend his title.
“It’s the big one. It’s good practice during the day. Being at home, eating healthy, doing a little bit of exercise.
“Early to bed, make sure you’re nice and rested. Darts, obviously a lot of it’s in the mind. You’ve got to be nice and fresh so you’ve slept well. You ‘get ready’ for the World Championship. It’s the big one.”
FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL
Unsurprisingly, the 50-year-old abides by a mantra that we are all familiar with, thanks to a certain highly-strung ex-footballer.
“Sport has changed across the board now. Not just our sport, every sport has changed. It’s about preparation. If you fail to prepare then prepare to fail.”
It is also true to say that Taylor hasn’t been pushed too hard in the finals of the last two World Championships. The Stoke man only dropped three sets to Whitlock last year and his old nemesis Raymond van Barneveld only managed to take one set the year before.
“As far as the last two finals go, it suited me down to the ground. Barney will do me lovely one year and Simon the next. It’s a matter of preparing properly and getting everything right on the day.”
But what about James Wade. The 27-year-old has had the drop on Taylor recently. Does Taylor feel that ‘The Machine’ is the biggest threat to his crown?
“Not really. You never know what the draw is. You don’t think about who you’re going to play,” says Taylor. “James is a lovely player. He’s got a lot of bottle as well. His stage presence is very good.
NOT ANOTHER 9-DARTER
As for his uncanny ability to throw perfect legs, Taylor says: “9-Darters are special. It’s like a 147 or a hole-in-one. You can never take the shine off that. There’s no luck at all. It’s a great achievement. I couldn’t do one at first. I kept trying and I couldn’t get one. All of a sudden, you get one, you get two, three, four, five. They seem to come along.”
There has been a growing murmur in the darts community about darts becoming an Olympic sport. There is even a facebook petition with almost 10,000 members. Does Taylor think it’s a runner? “I can’t see it happening. Not in my time, no.”
Away from the bright lights of Sky Sports, Taylor’s other sporting love is Port Vale Football Club.
“[I go] every week. I’ve got a box at the Vale. I go there every home game when I’m at home. I get on well with Mick [Adams, Port Vale manager]. Me and Mick text each other all the time.”
Phil Taylor begins the defence of his title against Gary Mawson or Juanito Gionson on Thursday, December 16.
[A version of this article first appeared in the College View, November 17, 2010]