One of darts’ original pantomime villains, Peter Manley, has opened up about his frosty relationship with Phil Taylor after renewing his rivalry with the sport’s greatest of all time.
The pair met on the burgeoning World Seniors circuit last year and could collide again when the Lakeside hosts the Seniors World Championship next month. Manley and Taylor were foes in the late 1990s and 2000s, meeting in the PDC World Championship final on three occasions. The Power won all three finals, two of them without dropping a set.
Their most infamous World final meeting came in 2002. As Taylor pinned the winning double, Manley stormed off stage. He eventually returned to boos from the crowd but his position as a villain of darts was fixed and he was regularly jeered at venues from then on. It was a role he not only accepted, but embraced in the years to come.
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Of that infamous moment in an interview with Daily Star Sport, Manley explains: “He used to run left and right, all round the stage without shaking the opponent’s hand [after winning tournaments].
“There were little niggly things that went on but I was young, I was still learning. I think that was Phil’s seventh or eighth World title. It was my first or second World final. I just wasn't going to give him the pleasure.
“When he hit the double, I started walking off. But he turned round to shake my hand, he didn’t run round the stage like I thought he would. But I wasn’t there, I’d gone.”
There were numerous other spicy meetings between the pair, but Manley insists he never held a grudge towards the tungsten titan.
“Phil always felt I had something against or whatever,” he says. “It wasn’t dislike. At the end of the day, I was just trying to do the best for myself. I wasn’t going to invite Phil for Sunday tea and become close friends.
“He was the only player that I knew, if he’d got his A-game, I couldn’t beat. You didn’t go into the game with that attitude. It’s just the knowledge that appears afterwards when you reflect back on the game.
“You always go into the game to win. I believed I could win at all times. Even the 7-0, there were three or four sets that were 3-2. It’s hard to take but that’s how good he was.”
Manley certainly got under Taylor’s skin. In an interview last year, The Power even confessed he wanted to belt ‘One Dart’ over the head with a shovel.
“Peter Manley was good, I enjoyed the banter with Peter,” he said, reported the Mirror. “Now we get on really well and he makes me laugh. But at the time I didn’t like him at all. As soon as he walked into a room I wanted to hit him with a shovel. It was horrible.”
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While the pair’s relationship has thawed, Manley couldn’t resist a cheeky dig ahead of their quarter-final at the World Seniors Matchplay in Hull.
“He’s threatened to hit me over the head with a shovel, hasn’t he?,” he said at the time, referring to Taylor’s interview. “I don’t think he could lift it now.”
Manley, the long-serving chairman of the Professional Darts Players Association (PDPA), is enjoying being among his old rivals on the Seniors circuit. The banter is still flying around the practice room, albeit without the edge of days gone by, he insists.
“You’ve still get loads of that,” adds the 60-year-old. “But whereas back in the day, you meant some of it. Now, it really is banter because while I might be able to talk the talk, I can’t walk the walk.”
The World Seniors Darts Championship runs from February 9 to 12.
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