It’s 22 years since Phil Taylor won his first PDC World Matchplay at the tender age of 34. The win set into motion a remarkable streak of victories in the competition, with The Power taking 15 titles in that period.
But this year will be Taylor’s final fling, as he’s set to retire from the sport. How he would love to go out with a bang at the Winter Gardens, a venue where he has so often been dominant, and there will be many in the Blackpool crowd who will want to see him bid farewell with a 16th Matchplay triumph.
Over the years, Taylor has provided fans and observers with countless memorable moments in the competition, and he will depart as perhaps its greatest ever participant.
Here, we take a look at some of the most enduring memories with which we has left us.
The greatest shot ever? Taylor pins the bull from way out wide
A thrilling leg concludes with what is one of the finest darts ever thrown. Taylor, needing just one more leg to win the final of the 2008 Matchplay, seems destined to concede the 27th to James Wade having been left with an improbable 132 to hit.
Having missed, and almost entirely covered, the bull with his first arrer, Taylor is left requiring T19 and bull to finish. The unlikeliness of this is made obvious by the commentator, who clearly expects the game to go a 28th leg.
But The Power had other ideas, stepping way out to the side of the oche in order to make an angle for what is a near-impossible shot:
This 9-darter against Michael Smith
Taylor is no stranger to the holy grail of the sport, the 9-dart finish. In the 2014 edition of the Matchplay, he thrilled fans in the Winter Gardens with another sensational clearance.
Agent Provocateur: Taylor stirs up the crowd after “dirty looks” between him and van Gerwen
Relations between arguably the sport’s two biggest names of the modern era have occasionally been strained. At last year’s tournament, this seemed to made explicit with Taylor’s impassioned stoking of the crowd during van Gerwen’s turn at the oche.
It may not have been one of his most glorious acts, but it’s certainly one of the more remarkable Blackpool moments.
Maiden Voyage: The Power’s first ever Matchplay victory in 1995
Where it all began. Having already become World Champion, a younger but no less paunchy Taylor overcame Dennis Priestley to take his first of many Matchplays.
As we go into his final outing, it’s very much worth reliving some of the highlights of that historic first Matchplay title.