|The Sky Sports team have been preparing a big feature for the World Championship broadcast, with myself, Dave Lanning and John Gwynne, profiling the ‘Greats’ of our sport. |
Producer Georgina Faulkner ended my session by asking me to put in order my best five of all-time……..so here it is: Phil Taylor, Ray Barneveld, Eric Bristow, John Lowe and Jocky Wilson.
Taylor, I think, is the best there will ever be. His achievements will never be matched and I think it will be many more years before the present crop get three world titles, never mind 13. He is the most naturally talented player I have ever seen and his work ethic and determination are unsurpassed.
It might surprise some of you that I put Barney above Bristow but I am firmly convinced that Barney will win at least two PDC World Championships to add to his four BDO titles. His rally against Taylor in Dublin was a performance that few could match.
Bristow is the very spirit of world darts. The arrogance that is necessary in every player is distilled in him, even though now he lifts no pots. Even after the dreaded dartitis struck in 1986, he got to World Finals….a true working class legend.
El Lobo is the most determined man I have ever met in sport. When the offers started coming over the phone after his 1979 World triumph, his attitude was excellent: “I am not going into darts for paid holidays overseas. I am going to treat it as my new profession.” he said. His great rivalry with Eric in the 1980s was a massive pillar in the structure of the game.
If Eric was a “Bash Street Kid”, Jocky Wilson was “Spike the Bulldog”. I once went for six weeks on tour with him around Britain, writing his life story in 1982. How Jocky could walk, never mind win games, with vodka and lager swilling around inside him, it is even now hard to believe. As PDC Tournament Director Tommy Cox once said: “Jocky didn’t need a manager, he needed a mother.”
My big relaxation during TV tournaments, is to play pool with anybody I can get a game with. I packed up playing with Dennis Priestley, when the score became 106-15 in his favour!
At the leisureplex in Tallaght, I was leading Dave Lanning 3-1, when my concentration blanked (ala Wayne Mardle!). The game ended up 4-4.
We then had to wait half-an-hour in a taxi queue to come back to the darts venue, only to be regaled by the local nutter….it takes one to know one!
PREMIER PARTY TIME
As a result of events in Ireland so far, Taylor, Lloyd, Priestley, Manley and Scholten have all booked their lucrative tickets into the 2007 Holsten Premier League.
I am particularly chuffed for my old mate Dennis, who has been a pal of mine for 20 years. To get back into the biggest of the big time, at the grand old age of 56, speaks volumes for him, his supportive family and a trio of lads, led by Darren Johnson, who have given him back his lust for practice.