Hello, Phil Taylor, I said, I'm Phil Taylor and I want to know your secret.

Type Phil Taylor into the search field and Google summonses a gazillion links to Phil "The Power" Taylor, multi-millionaire, legend of the dart board, winner of a record 16 world championships.

What's it like, I want to know, to reign supreme over all Phil Taylors. But mostly I want him to help me with my darts. I'm in a form slump.

The Ida Valley New Year's Eve World Bastards Championship is a darts competition like no other, a big deal among a small circle for a short time each year in a tiny part of the Maniototo. Kudos is as huge as the championship shield. Famous names are on it. Paul Holmes (not the late broadcaster). Phil Taylor (me, not him).


My moment was years ago. Subsequent humiliations include defeat at the hands of my 90-year-old father who threw with his left arm despite being righthanded because his shoulder was buggered. Young blood now rules. Jack Taylor and Flynn Taylor have their names on the shield. Billie Taylor is hammering down the door.

But no way is it just family. Droppable names among those who have come and not conquered include sports and literary legend Brian Turner (Oturehua) and famed painter Grahame Sydney (St Bathans). Unsportsmanlike behaviour is regularly alleged.

I was the first knocked out last time. I got called Phil "The Early Shower" Taylor.

Please help, I pleaded to Phil "The Power" Taylor.

"Glasses!" said Phil.

I explained my game plan: alcohol, sledging, betrayal.

Alcohol is not really part of the game these days, said Phil. Money ruined that. The pros are vying for a first prize of $20,000 right now in the Auckland Darts Masters. Phil looked sharp and sober.

Beta blockers (a calming drug)?

"Practise more," Phil said. "Practise, practise, practise."


Phil is in a hurry to get to a bike shop (he's nuts about electric push bikes), so I try a round of quick-fire questions.

When did he know that darts was his thing?

"When I won the world championships."

Was it always his passion?

New Zealand Herald reporter Phil Taylor takes a selfie with world champion darts player Phil Taylor. Photo / Dean Purcell
New Zealand Herald reporter Phil Taylor takes a selfie with world champion darts player Phil Taylor. Photo / Dean Purcell

"I always liked it. I started playing a couple of times a week in local leagues. I just got picked for the county, then I got picked for England."

Did his parents worry he was wasting his life in darts halls?


"No. I did have a job. I was an engineer. [He made ceramic toilet roll handles in his early working days, according to the interweb]. When I was 30 I became world champion and that's when I started to make a living."

What has darts given him?

"It's travelling. You sacrifice your family life, that's for sure, because you're never at home. Made a fortune, made millions but it's not everything. It's been kind to me and I supposed in lots of ways I've been kind to darts too."

Behind Phil's back, I asked a group of pros warming up in the practice room whether it was a pain having a giant like Phil suck up all the sunshine. The opposite, they said. Without Phil they wouldn't be here, there would be no money, no live TV. "He is Michael Jordan," said one.

Phil is withdrawing, stage left. This is his last tournament in New Zealand. Next year he will do only exhibitions. More time for the bike.

As I escort Phil to the bike shop he talks about how he's getting fitter and needing less battery power to get him up the hills, and about bike bling: gloves that flash a neon arrow when you put your hand out to indicate, a press button horn that's loud as a car's.


I want to tell him how hard it is for the rest of us Phil Taylors, about the excitement in the voice of the taxi dispatcher when I told him my name. "Phil Taylor!" he'd shouted gleefully down the phone. No, I'd said, not that Phil Taylor. "Pick up address?" replied the dispatcher.

Phil said he once saw a trades van with "Phil The Plumber Taylor" written down its side. I could have said to Phil that maybe he has given us all an opportunity, that I could be Phil The Scribbler Taylor.

Instead I said: Do you realise you are talking to a one-time victor of the New Year's Eve Ida Valley World Bastards Championship?

"I never won that one yet," said Phil. But he fancied his chances. "You ask anyone, you won't get a better bastard than me."

I leave the darts legend drooling over electric bikes. He is warm and engaging company, a very good bastard indeed. Far too nice for that treacherous competition in the Ida Valley.