AN 8,500-STRONG crowd were walking in a Taylor wonderland as a sporting legend bowed out of Leeds with a win.
Sixteen-time world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor saw off arch-rival Raymond Van Barneveld 7-4 in the Betway Premier League at First Direct Arena.
Taylor plans to retire at the end of the year and it was his last competitive match in Leeds – and possibly his final meeting with Van Barneveld.
Neither player was at his best – Taylor averaging 96.39 to Van Barneveld’s 97.32 – but the Stoke ace was buzzing after an emotional day.
Taylor said. “I’ve had some of the best quotes I’ve ever had from people on the streets – ‘Are you playing live tonight’?
“I said ‘I’ll struggle if I’m dead’. Someone else called me Power Wilson and I had Dennis Taylor as well!
“I walked round for about two hours and I love Leeds – it’s my type of people here.”
Taylor’s rivalry with Van Barneveld has been one of the greatest in the sport’s history. Taylor said: “I have loved playing him over the years.
“The future for me will probably be working with him doing personal appearances. My career isn’t going to finish, it goes on, but I won’t be part of major PDC events.”
Van Barneveld admitted: “I am happy Phil is quitting after this year, he is the best ever. We will miss him because he put darts on the map,”
Peter Wright silenced the crowd to beat two-time world champion Gary Anderson 7-5 in the night’s opening match.
With Wright wearing red –including his hair – the Leeds crowd were on Anderson’s side, but Snakebite produced some outstanding arrows in the all-Scottish tartan tear-up, averaging 109.48.
Anderson averaged 107.32 in defeat and landed six perfect darts at one stage, in a leg he lost.
“The atmosphere is amazing,” Wright said afterwards.
“It is great to play in Leeds, they always make you feel welcome – even though everybody was on Gary’s side.
“I soon turned them around. I think it was because he is a double world champion and everyone loves world champions. I am just the underdog who hasn’t won anything yet.
“It didn’t bother me, when I am in that frame of mind I like to prove crowds wrong and try and turn them – and I did that.”
Wright, who hit four ton-plus finishes, saw Michael Van Gerwen miss darts for a 7-0 whitewash in his previous match.
He said: “I’m just happy with the win. I was disappointed with how I played last week, but you have to forget about what’s gone on before and get on with it.”
Another two-time world champion Adrian Lewis led 4-3, but then saw his opponent James Wade hit legs of 12, 11 and 11 darts before closing out a 7-4 win with a double-top finish.
“It’s very nice to get a win,” said Wade. “It wasn’t as comfortable as you’d want, but you know that Adrian can turn it on.
“He’s one of the best in the world so a win like this is massive. The legs of 12, 11 and 11 are probably the best I’ve strung together this season so far.”
Current world champion Michael Van Gerwen hit the accelerator to beat Jelle Klaasen 7-4, after it had been 4-4 and inthe final match Dave Chisnall broke his duck with a 7-4 win over Kim Huybrechts.