Darts: Power to rule Barney army
Sid Waddell assesses the two darters aiming for a bigger world
Sunday 07 November 1999
Meanwhile Barney, alias 32- year-old Ray Barneveld, twice Embassy world champion and now a bigger Dutch sporting icon than Johan Cruyff or Ruud Gullit, was in South Africa beating top amateurs to take the World Cup singles title.
But, believe you me, at four o'clock today at Wembley Conference Centre, when the pair clash for one hour and a pounds 60,000 first prize, titles will not count a toss. Taylor, for me and many pundits the best darter of all time, wants to prove the Dutchman is not even in his league. Phil has had to play the top professionals to gain his unique status - guys like Dennis Priestley and Rod Harrington - since 17 players broke away from the British Darts Organisation in 1993 and formed the Professional Darts Corporation. Barney, it can be argued, has never been tested by those who remained.
But, stout Potteries lad that he is, it is brass that bugs Taylor. In a good year he makes around pounds 100,000. Barney, by contrast, in winning the Embassy world title in 1998 and 1999 and wowing Dutch TV, is raking in pounds 300,000 a year from tournaments, sponsorships and exhibitions. In just under a year, sales of his personalised darts have reached 40,000 sets at pounds 20 a throw!
Money matters aside, since he lost to Richie Burnett in the 1995 Embassy final, Ray, then still a postman, has developed into a good but not a great player. He is a fine 180 scorer and rarely misses doubles, but he's never looked the absolute hammer of all opponents. His two Embassy wins were won by 6 sets to 5. He can't yet be spoken of in the same breath as Lowe, Bristow and Taylor.
The Power, on the other hand, is the player of the decade, if not all time. The great Eric Bristow financially assisted, coaxed and cajoled him into the Top 10 from 1988. He taught him to "bully" opponents, never relent. It is that spirit which makes the former pottery turner a killer when ahead - Taylor can lift his average to 110 and upward.
I reckon Taylor, 38, is at the peak of his career. A year ago he was jaded through too much travelling to exhibitions, but now his pub in Stoke is going well and he's more relaxed than ever. I expect him to win, but a couple of factors will make it tight. Years ago, pro darters would have wanted a two-hour match so pure class would come out. Also, Taylor can be a slow starter. Barney never is. Finally, hundreds of Dutch fans could make Wembley sound like Amsterdam.
It makes for a fascinating encounter - but not a reconciliation bout between the PDC and the BDO. As in boxing, the champs make their own terms - and individual entrepreneurs, in this case Barry Hearn, make the match. I see player power and business acumen as the twin towers of the future of darts.
Sid Waddell is commentating on the match for Talk Radio
Latest in Sport
- 1 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...
Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...
£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...