Belfast Telegraph

World Odyssey is darts champion Taylor’s mission

By Frank Brownlow

Phil Taylor last night told a packed Odyssey Arena that he would do all in his ‘Power’ to bring the World Championship to the Belfast venue.

Lady Gaga had strutted her stuff at the Odyssey earlier this week, and last night Belfast went gaga for 15-times world champion Taylor.

‘The Power’ wiped the floor with defending Whyte & Mackay Premier League champion James ‘The Machine’ Wade in front of a pumped up 7000-strong Odyssey crowd.

And he revealed: “People here have been asking me to do all I can to bring the World Championship to the Odyssey.

“I would love to see the World Championship here because this is a fantastic crowd and a great atmosphere to play in.”

Some of the crowd wore hula skirts — and that was just the men — hawaiian shirts, false moustaches and banana costumes.

Just a typical Thursday night out in Belfast.

The weekend was starting early and loads of people had their little weekend cases with them.

But these little cases were made of cardboard and had four pints of beer tucked neatly inside. Rest assured, no-one would go thirsty.

Most people had come to the Odyssey to see ‘The Power’, the greatest darts player that has ever lived.

And the excitement in the crowd was heightened by the stunning glamour models leading the arrow athletes on to the stage.

First up were Mervyn King and Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ Baxter.

Baxter received a warm Belfast welcome — he had after all been cast as the ‘goody’ to ‘baddy’ King, who has taken over the role of pantomime villain previously held by Peter ‘One Dart’ Manley.

Baxter’s walk-on music got the crowd going too, ‘The Rocket’ dancing across the stage to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. Freddie Mercury would have appreciated the showmanship.

Motorhead’s ‘King of Kings’ for our Mervyn demonstrated that a broad range of musical tastes would be catered for on the night.

The next pairing also proved to be crowd pleasers, Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis bouncing into the arena to an early 80s number, ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag’, followed by Terry ‘The Bull’ Jenkins who delighted the crowd with his well thought out bull impression — darts as horns and foot scraping the ground. The music just had to be ‘Wooly Bully’.

We had had four English players on the Odyssey oche so far, but darts is a world game - with aspirations to become an Olympic sport. Well, that’s a tad tongue in cheek, but then darts has never been a sport — or is that a game — to take itself too seriously.

So next up in Northern Ireland we had a Dutchman against an Australian.

Bearded and pig-tailed Simon Whitlock plays the Aussie role with a straight bat — calls himself the ‘Wizard of Oz’ and dances into the arena to ‘Land Down Under’. Raymond van Barneveld is a fighter, and a heavyweight at that. Well, he does march in with Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blaring through the sound system.

The Odyssey crowd were in full voice by the time the top of the bill protagonists emerged to do battle, James Wade’s ‘I Gotta Feeling’ taking the party mood to new heights.

So this was it — the world champion against the defending Premier League champion.

You got the impression that the king of darts would be just a little bit keen to win this one against the 26-year-old pretender to the throne.

And the Belfast crowd felt the power as Taylor won 8-2 against ‘The Machine’, who couldn’t seem to find his ignition.

Those who were at the Odyssey last night saw, in Taylor, a sporting phenomenon in action. No matter what you think of darts, 15 world titles is one heck of a record.

Few sportsmen have that kind of ‘Power’.

Belfast Telegraph

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