The sporting public had been starved of what they love most. We wanted to help. We wanted to find a way to bring the thrill of a sporting match-up back to life. Even if it was on a delay.
First, we enlisted the help of a couple of half-decent players. Then a couple of Target Darts’ Nexus boards.
But then the tricky part – how to film the bloody thing.
The video boffins were adamant a couple of iPhone XRs would be good enough to do the job – so off they went to Den Haag in the Netherlands, where Barney was on lockdown, and Phil’s mansion in Stoke-on-Trent.
But there was a problem. The Power may be adept at throwing tungsten – but he’s still using a Nokia 3210.
So before the Apple kit flew in to the Taylor Palace, it needed decluttering. Off came every icon possible on the lock screen, only the camera icon remained. He couldn’t miss the target, could he?
The gameday was confirmed, the media coverage done and practicing was complete. Yes, practicing.
With us giving away £1,000 for every 180 scored to the NHS charity Heroes, one of our two legends was particularly desperate to ensure they didn’t let the health service down. Hours on the practice board followed.
And then the match. We sat nervously as Phil took a picture of his frontroom, complete with cameras and tripods, and a special helper. He had to get partner Karen to stand on the oche, pretending to throw, while he lined up the image. And he had to press record.
Thirteen legs of incredible darts followed. Exchanges between the players were sharp and brief – but incredibly well-natured.
‘161 finish, how about that?’ Barney roared early on. ‘I know, shut up!’ the Power shot back.
Then it was his turn to fire, a stunning bull-treble 17-bull finish. ‘Two bulls, two bulls!’ Phil yelled into the board’s mic. A smile and an applause followed from Barney.
But the man from Stoke-on-Trent was struggling for 180s early doors – put off his stride by the Heroes at the back of his mind. ‘I keep thinking of them NHS workers every time I’m on one,’ he said, ‘it’s really bloody hard!’
And then he hit his stride. ‘One hundreeeeeeed and eighty’ roared Karen in the background as her man hit the mark.
Taylor, meanwhile, was watching intently on the Nexus screen as to what his opponent was scoring. ‘Go on Barney, whack another one in there,’ he urged before his old foe only managed 140. The Power responded by letting out a long sigh.
And then nearly history – 6-5 down, Barney banged in seven consecutive treble 20s. Then a treble 19. He couldn’t, could he?
Catch the entire match from 7pm on our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 9, 2020
No, he couldn’t. But a 10-darter wasn’t half bad. As Barney rattled back from 6-3 down to win 7-6, the gracious Power clapped and applauded his old rival.
Down came the equipment, the iPhones heading back south to our video team where a nervous 48 hours followed. Had he pressed record? Would we have a single second of footage?
Fortunately, yes. Taylor had hit the target. Sport was back. But not as we knew it. But, most importantly, £15,000 to the NHS Heroes.