Ending Phil Taylors unbeaten run is in my top four darts memories at 40

Well dear readers, I know you will fail to believe this, but the next time you hear from me I will be no longer be in my 30s. I know a combination of clean living, a good moisturiser and the love of a good woman make me look significantly younger, but I can’t avoid the fact that I am turning the BIG 40.

Seeing it is also my 20th year on tour in professional darts, I thought I might take this opportunity to do a "Four before 40" – detailing my four top memories from my career so far. There are quite a few that didn’t make the cut that could have, and if you think I have missed any then message me @jameswade180 with your own selections.

Ending Phil Taylor’s 44 match unbeaten run in the Premier League in Glasgow in 2008. Phil had not lost since the competition started in 2005 and was achieving an air of invincibility.

It was really strange because I had a feeling that, on my Premier League debut, I would beat him and I did – with an 8-6 victory. It was a great feeling and really announced my arrival as a Premier League player although the old saying goes "he who laughs last" and we met again in the final that year – with me averaging over 100 and still losing 14-8!

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I would be on the receiving end of another vintage Taylor performance a few years later in the 2010 final when he struck two nine darters on the way to lifting the trophy. In 2007 I arrived at the World Matchplay in Blackpool having made it to the final the previous year.

I already loved the place and felt right at home there (interesting seeing as I ended up marrying a Blackpool girl) and was confident I could go one better. I beat the likes of Mervyn King, Adrian Lewis and Terry Jenkins in the final and it was a massive moment for me because it was an achievement, I knew no-one could ever take from me.

A few months later I arrived in Dublin for the World Grand Prix with everyone asking questions about me as the last major title winner. Was it a flash in the pan? Could he win more titles?

I remember beating Barney in the semi-finals and only dropping a handful of sets on the way to the title, a victory that pushed me up to number three in the World and showed people that I was here to stay (I’m not sure they realised for how long!)

Who thought that one of my list would involve entering the Priory? Well, it is more about leaving. I was in a real state when I was admitted in 2011, and I genuinely thought I might never play darts again. During the stay I hard to get my mind into a good place, and by the time I left I was happy and relaxed but had not thrown a dart in a month.

I went to the 2011 UK Open with no expectation (just glad to be there and alive) and it was an amazing feeling to lift the trophy. I had experienced major success before that, but it was probably the first time I really appreciated it and it sunk it the challenges I was facing and the importance of my mental health and state-of-mind to my success.

Practice is important but happiness in paramount and I have tried to never forget that. There have only been three nine dart finishes at the World Grand Prix and, incredibly, two of them came in one game.

It is a standing joke that whenever there is a nine darter about then James Wade is either throwing it or watching it, and both was the case here! Robert Thornton and I did one each in our 2014 encounter in Dublin, and the atmosphere and crowd reaction was unreal. It was poignant as Robert’s mum had recently passed away and he was emotional, and that venue was always vibrant anyway.

Getting a nine darter with a double start is true perfection, and I was delighted when I hit mine – but I can honestly say I was also chuffed for Robert when he followed suit later in the game. We shared a real nice moment and I think we both knew it was darting history. Incidentally – the only other one at the World Grand Prix was by Brendan Dolan, against a bloke called James Wade!

Thanks for allowing me the trip down memory lane. I will see you when I am 40!

Take care,



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