The On-going Saga - Taylor v Barney photo gallery and the story so far

Jamie Shaw in PDC Darts News 28 Mar 2013
Taylor has enjoyed the lions' share of the glory since Barney moved the PDC in early 2006 (credit:live-darts.com)

The rivalry between Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld is one that has defined a darting generation. Here we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from their classic battles.


The tone was set in November 1999 as the duo faced off in a game billed as 'the match of the century' at the Wembley Conference Centre. The match, played against the clock, live on terrestrial television, saw Taylor runaway a 21-10 winner and £100,000 richer in being crowned the 'undisputed champion.'

But Barney wanted more. And it would be another seven years before the pair met again in a major televised event - crucially with the PDC.

Four times a winner of the Lakeside world title with the BDO and at the peak of his career, Van Barneveld felt the time was right to make the switch to the crème de la crème of world darts - the PDC - and crossed the dividing line in 2006 under a mass of media hype.

Immediately, Barney cited Taylor as his reason for making the move, and he was awarded a place in the Premier League just weeks later, where his wish to take on the king would be granted.

Bournemouth the setting, and the 3,000 strong crowd were whipped into a frenzy as the two tungsten titans stepped onto the stage. Taylor had seen many great rivals come and go in his two decades of dominance and now was the time for a new warrior to present a challenge.

The Power surged into a 7-4 lead, guaranteeing himself of at least a point and surely more, but Barney showed his true metal, and having announced himself in emphatic style with a nine-darter in his opening match the night, hit back with three consecutive legs to snatch a 7-7 draw and signal the start of a special rivalry.

In the months that followed, Barney realised his dream, beating Taylor for the first time a gripping UK Open Quarter-Final, before replicating the feat just weeks later at the Las Vegas Desert Classic.

Soon after this, a now fearless van Barneveld made alterations to his game. He changed darts and began using the "stacking" technique used by Taylor. The darts used were a gram lighter than his old ones and cost the equivalent of £1 from a local store in Holland. 

Taylor took the spoils in their fifth meeting of the year at the World Grand Prix, but the battle was heading for one ultimate, inevitable culmination - a meeting in the World Championship final at the turn of the year.

In a fitting curtain call for the historic Circus Tavern venue, Barney battled back from three sets down to force a sudden death decider at 6-6.

The marathon battle headed for a fairy-tale final leg, and after winning the bull and defying Taylor's mind games, Barney held his nerve with D20 in the greatest match of all time to match Eric Bristow's record of five world titles.

That, however, was as good as it got for the ex-postman, and after fulfilling his destiny, struggled to motivate himself for the battle and set himself new goals.

Taylor regained the mantle in 2008, doing the double over the Dutchman in the Premier League and dispatching him in the World Grand Prix final.

Barney's confidence had taken a battering, but an inspired World Championship at the back end of the year saw him make history by becoming the first player ever to hit a nine-darter in darts' show-piece event.

Taylor and Van Barneveld marched into the final at the Alexandra Palace, but it was to prove a somewhat one-sided affair, as the Stoke ace stormed to a crushing 7-1 victory and his 14th world title.

In the 2009 Las Vegas Desert Classic, Barney returned to form, losing narrowly to Taylor 13-11 in the final. After the game, a gallant Barney took the microphone from Sky Sports presenter Dave Clark, and gave a speech about Taylor.

Many felt he now showed his rival 'too much' respect and that looked to have an adverse effect on the board as he lost the belief in his own ability.

After a bout of ill health and a mini sabbatical from competitive action, speculation grew of a van Barneveld retirement and while Taylor was picking up trophies, his rival was picking up weights in the gym.

Another nine-darter came out of the blue at the 2010 World Championship, but the Barney fell short at the Semi-Final stage and could only watch from his living room as Taylor scooped his 15th world crown.

The emergence of Taylor's former protégé Adrian Lewis as well as the rise of Australian Simon Whitlock and newcomer Gary Anderson saw Taylor and Barney's rivalry begin to fade as the Dutch maestro endured a miserable Premier League campaign and failed to qualify for the UK Open that summer.

Then, the enigmatic people's champion, fresh from a vacation to South Africa with his pals from the national football team, returned at the World Matchplay with a now trademark nine-darter, and although he went down 18-12 to Taylor in the final, the signs signalled a return in the right direction.

Those signs, however, were somewhat misleading, as the now unpredictable Den Haag thrower suffered a baron 2011, losing to Taylor on countless occasions, before finding himself on the receiving end of one of the biggest upsets in World Championship history, losing 0–3 in the first round to world number 85, James Richardson.

Now at rock bottom, the epic rivalry with high flying Taylor began to pave into insignificance, until almost a year later, when the 45-year-old ended a five-year wait for a major title by winning the 2012 Grand Slam.

Taylor was forced to sit up and take notice, going through a tough patch of his own, and with one eye on the breakthrough of another Dutch talent - Michael Van Gerwen.

And so, to the most recent chapter, a Semi-Final showdown at the 2013 World Championship - a match hugely anticipated given their respective rise in form and a war of words the night before.

A rejuvenated van Barneveld expressed his "lack of fear" towards Taylor: "I'm not scared. I like to play him. Please," he told the world after his demolition of Simon Whitlock minutes earlier.

A riled Taylor responded with a war cry: "If he doesn't fear me, why say it then? I think he does."

The match began in oh so familiar fashion, with Barney showing little sign of his remarkable resurgence in form, and Taylor cruising into a 5-1 sets lead.

Rallied by his partisan 'Barney Army', the Dutch dynamo dug deep and recaptured some of his 2007 fighting quality, pegging back three sets to make it 5-4, but it wasn't to be, as Taylor tore up the fairy-tale script and closed out the win.

What followed was about to re-ignite the fuse of their rivalry to as strong as ever. A handshake gone wrong, as Taylor reacted angrily to his opponent's pull of his arm. The pair tussled, exchanged heated words, before being ushered off stage.

Taylor inevitably went on to secure a sweet 16th World Championship win amid rumours of a disgraced retirement, but the rest may not be history just yet.

They may share a practice room week-in, week-out and face each other in informal exhibition events, but when the shout of "game on" is yelled by the referee this Thursday, a whole new chapter in the on-going saga could well be written.

To be continued...  


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The On-going Saga - Taylor v Barney photo gallery and the story so far

The rivalry between Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld is one that has defined a darting generation. Here we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from their classic battles.

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