Darts: Acclaim eludes victor Taylor

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PHIL TAYLOR won his seventh world title when he carried off the Skol PDC Championship for the fifth year in a row at Purfleet, Essex. Yet for most darts players in this country the 38-year-old from Stoke, who beat the North Cheam newsagent Peter Manley 6-2 in the final on Sunday night, will never get quite the praise that is due to him until he wins the Embassy at Frimley Green again.

Taylor won the Embassy, the world's richest tournament, in both 1990 and 1992, but a year later became one of 16 professionals who broke away from the British Darts Organisation, the ruling body, to form what is now known as the Professional Darts Corporation.

The breakaway group included seven world champions in John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, Keith Deller, Bob Anderson, Dennis Priestley and Taylor, and for a couple of years at least were undoubtedly superior to the players they had left behind. However, Wilson has now retired, Bristow is only a shadow of the player he once was and Deller, Anderson and Priestley are not playing quite as well as they did. Only the phenomenal Taylor and Lowe are still playing outstanding darts. Other players, such as Rod Harrington, Shayne Burgess, Peter Evison, Alan Warriner and Peter Manley have come to the fore in recent years, but the general standard of play at the Skol event has been lower than the Embassy for the past five years.

Only eight players in the 32-strong Skol field achieved an average of more than 30 per dart in one or more of their matches at Purfleet last week. Thirteen of the players did not break a 27 average in the first round with Bristow, at 17.79, having the lowest ever seen at either world championship. In contrast, 13 of the first 18 players to compete in the Embassy first round at the weekend broke the 30 target.

That is why many people would like to see Taylor have one more crack at the Embassy title, where he would face stiffer competition. Unfortunately under the present rules agreed by the BDO and PDC, any player reaching the second round of either world championship is not eligible for the reverse championship next year. That means Taylor will have no chance of competing in the Embassy in 2000 unless the rules are changed and the two championships no longer overlap.

If the two events were staged at different times, Taylor could be world champion twice in the same year if he maintains his present form.