JOE's History of Darts: The 1990s 8 years ago

JOE's History of Darts: The 1990s

Splits, glitz and the Power is switched on; the 1990s was the decade when modern darts was born.

Two dates defined darts in the 1990s and set in train the landscape of the sport until the present day. The first was January 13, 1990. That was the day when Phil Taylor beat Eric Bristow 6-1 to win his first world title.

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The second was January 3, 1993. That was the date that 16 players, including Taylor, signed a statement that declared that they, the World Darts Council (WDC), wanted to become the body that sanctioned participation in the sport worldwide.

As we explained last time, the sport that dominated the early 1980s had slipped in popularity and by the end of the decade televised tournaments were very rare indeed. That put a huge squeeze on the players earnings and sponsorships and they began to feel that the BDO should do more to promote the sport.

After the darting equivalent of the Declaration of Independence in 1993 the BDO promptly suspended, and eventually banned, all 16 players from future tournaments. When you consider the 16 included every former world champion up to that point bar the then retired Leighton Rees, it shattered the sport in two.

On December 26 1993 the first WDC World Championships began, and it was won by Dennis Priestley, beating Taylor in the final. By 1997 the WDC was renamed the Professional Darts Council (PDC) and that is the body that runs the sport today.

The advent of the PDC caught the attention of fledgling broadcaster Sky and they helped turn the sport into the big show it is today. Lights, girls, music, and a much higher sandard of coverage in terms of cameras and hours raised the sport to a new level for fans but on the oche, one man was setting standards that have still not been breached.

Phil Taylor won his second BDO crown in 1992 but it was under the auspices of the PDC that he really started to rack up the titles. He won his first PDC World title in 1995 and he won the next seven too.

His great rival in the 1990s would be Priestley, and Taylor would defeat Dennis the Menace in three straight finals from 1996-98, the final of those titles taking him to six overall, one more than his former mentor Eric Bristow.

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Taylor also nicely bookended the decade by agreeing to a one-off match with then BDO champ Raymond van Barneveld in what was called ‘The Match of the Century’ at Wembley. Taylor won 21-10 and by the end of that game nobody was in any doubt who the top player, and top organisation, was as we entered the new Millennium.