By James McCann |
Blackpool’s illuminations are world famous, but few people may be aware that, for the last 17 years, they have been powered by a darts player.
Every July, the World Matchplay Championship comes to the seaside town and, more often than not, Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor turns up, switches on and walks home with the trophy.
The Stoke sensation has been dominating the darts scene for more than two decades, and Blackpool is one of his favourite stomping grounds, with 12 victories from the 18 World Matchplay Championships that have been staged so far.
It will come as no surprise, therefore, that Taylor is the overwhelming 13/8 favourite to make it lucky 13 at the Winter Gardens and add to his vast collection of 70 major titles.
The Power has not lost in Blackpool since 2007, when James Wade romped to his first major title at the age of 24 beating Terry Jenkins, and the Machine is a tasty 10/1 to go one better than last year, when he was beaten in the final by his nemesis.
Reigning world champion Adrian Lewis has flattered to deceive in 2012, failing to qualify for the semi-finals of the Premier League and crashing out of last month’s UK Open in Bolton, but Jackpot can turn on the style at a moment’s notice and may be tempting at 9/1.
Though Phil Taylor has the monopoly on records in the darts world, Raymond van Barneveld is one of the few people to have defeated the Power multiple times on the big stage.
Barney recently scooped the European Darts Open and is in fine fettle heading into the World Matchplay Championship, with Paddy Power offering 9/1 that he can break his Blackpool hoodoo and take the trophy back home to the Netherlands.
Those after a little extra value should look no further than Robert Thornton, who sensationally defeated Phil Taylor in the final of the UK Open.
After seeing off Gary Anderson, Wes Newton and the highly-fancied Dave Chisnall en route to the final, the Scotsman then handed Taylor his first defeat in a televised final for five years and is a very appealing 40/1 to make it back-to-back major victories in Blackpool.
Despite being darts’ greatest champion, Phil Taylor is also the sport’s worst loser, and is determined to prove the doubters wrong once again in Blackpool.
After beating Chisnall in the final of the German Darts Championship at the end of June, he sounded a warning to the pretenders to his throne.
“I’m delighted to have won this, Dave’s played some great darts throughout the weekend so I knew I’d have to be at my best in the final and it’s great to win. It’s a fantastic way to set myself up for the World Matchplay,” he added.
Few would argue against the Power once again lighting up the oche in Blackpool and winning his 13th World Matchplay Championship at the Winter Gardens.