Phil Taylor may have 14 World Championship titles to his name but this week he was spectacularly humbled by a young player from Crosby.
Mark Rice was one of eight amateur players who had a chance to beat 'The Power' in an exhibition at Rileys in Bootle, over one leg of 501. He certainly took his chance and stunned the darts legend by checking out on a 104 finish – treble 18, single 18, double 16 – to wild cheers from his supporters.
Mark said: “I had played him once before in an exhibition a few years ago but I don’t think he recognised me. It was great to beat him – he didn’t really say anything to me afterwards, just ‘well done’ and shook my hand.”
Taylor is widely acknowledged as the greatest darts player of all time and some argue that he is the greatest competitor sport has ever seen. He has won more than 50 major tournaments and has amassed over £1million in prize money.
The club was packed with around 150 spectators, made up of many fellow players and family. Mark is a rising star on the local darts scene, having won three league individuals tournaments in recent years. He began playing for St William of York and now represents Star of the Sea, whilst his impressive averages have seen him called up for the Merseyside County team.
One day the 24-year-old hopes to emulate his hero Taylor and make it to a televised tournament with either of darts’ two corporations, the PDC and the BDO.
He said: “I took it really seriously because my dream is to become a professional and I want to do as well as possible. It isn’t just a hobby or something I do in my leisure time.”
Liverpool has a thriving darts scene, with leagues for men and women and regular competition for players. Mark can take inspiration from other players in the area who have recently reached the latter stages of televised tournaments, such as Stephen Bunting and Robbie Green.
By Chris Shaw, Chief Sports Reporter
Mark Rice dreams of becoming a professional; YouTube: Phil Taylor's first televised nine-dart finish