Phil Taylor has lauded the special rivalry he enjoys with Raymond van Barneveld ahead of their Premier League clash at Leeds’ First Direct Arena on Thursday evening. Taylor announced last month that 2017 will be his final year on the professional circuit, and this could potentially be the final meeting between arguably the two biggest legends in darts.
The pair have met an astonishing 77 times since their first competitive tussle back in 1990, and they have enjoyed arguably the greatest rivalry in the sport’s history, particularly since Van Barneveld’s switch to the PDC in 2006.
Their most memorable showdown came at the 2007 PDC World Championship final at the Circus Tavern. Van Barneveld fired in an incredible twenty-one maximums as he came from 3-0 down to defeat Taylor 7-6 in a sudden-death leg to clinch his fifth world title, in a contest labelled as ‘the greatest game ever played’.
If either man were to be eliminated on Judgement Night, this could be the final chapter of their magnificent rivalry spanning three decades, and Taylor admits that his clashes with the Dutchman always carry special meaning.
“It’s still special, more so than anybody else to be honest. “Raymond’s the one I enjoy playing more than anybody – it’s the old memories of when I first made my name and when he first made his.
It’s like Eric Bristow and John Lowe I think and their rivalry, it’s a bit special to me. These nights are special – they’re the games you remember,” Taylor claimed.
“It’s my last season and I was looking around at Nottingham last week and thinking it’s the last time I’d be playing there. It’s great in a lot of ways, it’s time for me to retire and that’s what I’ll be doing, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it now,” the 56-year-old insisted.
Taylor has won 56 of the pair’s 77 meetings, with Van Barneveld recording 17 victories; whilst four of their matches resulted in draws. However, their most recent meeting came in the World Championship quarter-finals at the Alexandra Palace less than two months ago, where the five-time world champion prevailed 5-3.
The Dutchman has also enjoyed the better of their recent Premier League meetings. Since ‘The Power’ defeated Barney in the 2013 semi-finals, Van Barneveld has won four and drawn two of their last seven clashes, and Taylor suggested that the 49-year-old holds the psychological edge.
The 16-time world champion admitted: “Ray’s got his confidence up now, he’s beaten me the last couple of times and I think he thinks he’s got something over me now. It will be a good game and I’ll enjoy it. It will be a great crowd in Leeds too, they always give good support.
“To me Leeds is probably one of the best venues we play at. Wherever you’re sat you’ve got a good view and it’s always a good night, they’re great people and it’s a perfect venue for me against Barney.”
Taylor and Van Barneveld top the bill on Thursday evening, but Michael van Gerwen meets his arch-rival and compatriot Jelle Klaasen, whilst Gary Anderson and Peter Wright kick off the night with an all-Scottish affair. Elsewhere, James Wade takes on Adrian Lewis, whilst Kim Huybrechts and Dave Chisnall collide.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Betway Premier League
Night Three – Thursday February 16
First Direct Arena, Leeds
Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis v James Wade
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Jelle Klaasen
Dave Chisnall v Kim Huybrechts