Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thoughts On Phil Taylor

A highlight of the trip to the Festival of Darts was seeing Phil Taylor up close. He played on the last three days. He was kept separate from everyone in the main hall until he came in to play his games as the draw progressed. Most of the rest of the time he was in a another room with Simon Whitlock and other invited players where he practised till his time to play.

I at first felt a bit sorry for him as he could not mix in the way we players all do and practice without being bothered. There was a security guard on his door to prevent entry except for those authorised. Every time he came out he was accosted by people wanting to talk to him, have their photo taken with him, people wanting his autograph. He responded in a very good humoured way with a lot of grace and was very obliging to anyone who approached. So hats off to him for that. He was truly professional.

After a while I was not quite so sorry for him as darts is is his business and livelihood. He needs the attention of people to make money. As an example his autographed picture could be obtained for $25. His darts, shirts and other items were on sale. Shirts depending on type were $70 to $100.  On one day of the tournament he and Simon Whitlock were on stage with a professional photographer and by paying $25 you got a photo with him and for $45 you could get a photo with him and Simon. Quite a lot of people took advantage of the opportunity. One morning an auction was held and the prize was one hour with Phil in a master class for the winning bidder with 5 friends. You would also get free drinks and a free Phil Taylor shirt for each of your party as part of the prize. Bidding started at $501 and was won by a bid of $1500. All money quoted is Australian. I understand his appearance fee per day was $7,000. Though that is one figure I am not absolutely sure of. I understand he would come to NZ for an exhibition at $10,000 per day. On the day I flew home he was on his way to Melbourne for an exhibition for 1000 people in a racecourse. I suppose that is how the organisers can raise the funds to pay for him. People for a cheap ticket I think were paying $40 a head and then there is to be another exhibition in Adelaide. Good on the organisers for having the balls to take the risk and make it work.

One day when he played Kyle Anderson in a floor match I got quite close. I was within a meter or two and had an unobstructed view with the crowd behind and alongside me. Kyle had hit a 9 darter the day before so he was on fire. It was a great game with Phil winning 6 to 4 and Kyle hitting 5 x 180. A good a game as you would see any where. Phil up close has a great throw as you would expect. The body does not move, just mainly the upper arm and it is machine like up close with no deviation. He is consistent hitting two triples nearly every throw. You could play brilliantly against him and still loose. He had a great sense of humour and had a bit of repartee with the crowd watching. He looked completely relaxed and showed no signs of being under pressure. Kyle created a chance that might have made it even closer than 6 to 4 but missed. So hats off to him.

You could not help but be impressed by Phil as a person. He was very professional the whole time I saw him. Being in the public eye must make life difficult at times but he handled things well. There were one or two security guards with him most of the time when in the hall. I do not think he was in any danger but there are drunken idiots where ever you go and I am sure he has had a few bad experiences in the UK so I respect his caution.

How much practice does he do ? According to Laura , his partner, who accompanied him about 30 minutes or an hour per day. Before a big tournament 3 or 4 hours.


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