If Raymond van Barneveld had had his wits about him he’d have tried to crush Phil Taylor’s hand before the World Darts Championship semi-final and not after it. That’s what a Kerry footballer did to a Louthman as they prepared for a football match many years ago.
Barney, as van Barneveld is better known as on the oche, had just been beaten and like all good sportsmen shook hands with his winning opponent. But, according to Taylor - the ‘Power’ to all followers of the arrers - it wasn’t so much a handshake as a bonecrusher.
Taylor was so incensed (right) he took a lunge at his opponent. Brave man. Barney is huge, about a foot taller and twice as heavy. It was all very nasty, even by Alexander Palace standards.
What would it have been like had van Barneveld tried that before the off. A row, maybe, but probably the same result to the match. Taylor was in imperious form
It didn’t make any difference which hand the Louthman wrote with, or, for that matter, which foot he kicked with, as he geared up for that meeting with Kerry at the time when forwards and midfielders from opposing teams not only lined up with each other, but also held hands just before the referee threw in the ball.
The scheming Kerryman had just one thing in mind, and with hands like shovels, as they say, was perfectly equipped to execute it his plan. Poor Louthman, he had his hand bruised and confidence shattered and finished on the losing side.
Despite his win over Barney, Taylor was outsider in his final with another Dutchman, Michael van Gerwen, and as the Ally Pally showdown progressed through its early stages he lengthened in price. But after being two sets to four down he rallied, using vast experience to shake his 23-three-year opponent’s confidence. He finished a comfortable enough winner.
Taylor has now won the title 16 times, just one short of the number of jockeys’ championships won by Tony McCoy. He’ll be two down in a few months, because as sure as there are sheets on a horse when its racing, McCoy is going to add the current title to his tally.
Remember when McCoy and Taylor went head-to-head? It wasn’t on the oche or the race track, but in the big room where the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year was announced. McCoy came out on top.