The 1994 World Darts Championship took place at the Circus Tavern after 18 months of controversy within the sport, following the departure of 16 of the top players from the BDO to form the PDC. Altough at the time, this union was still known as the World Darts Council (WDC).
Millionaire Phil Taylor allowed himself just £200 a week during heyday: "A hungry lion will fight harder"
In the first final, Priestley triumphed 6-1 against Phil Taylor. It proved to be the beginning of a rivalry and a new darts era. ''I went into that World Championship without any great expectations,” Priestley, who previously won the BDO title in 1991, reflects to the PDC's official website. "My form hadn’t been good all year, but I played better as the tournament went on which is always a good sign, and I ended up being the champion!"
“It was a massive moment. Whether it’s darts, boxing or even athletics – just being known as the World Champion. It’s the pinnacle. It never even dawned on me until people said: ‘You’re the first ever PDC World Champion. Nobody will ever be able to take that away from you’.”
Draw revealed for the 2024 World Darts Championship: Michael Smith could begin defence of his crown against Grand Slam revelation Stowe Buntz
That historic match remains Taylor's second-biggest defeat in PDC World Darts Championship history. But the darter from Stoke-on-Trent would go on to enact revenge in merciless fashion over the subsequent years.
In 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000, Taylor and Priestley again faced each other in the World Darts Championship final and each time the victory went to the later 16-time world champion.
"The 1996 final was probably the best one between me and Phil,” Priestley says. On that night, 'The Menace' became the first player ever to record a 100+ average in a World Darts Championship final. Although, he still eventually succumbed to Taylor, 6-4.
"Michael van Gerwen has got that extra gear at the minute" - Phil Taylor backs his old rival for World Championship glory
"It was great to be involved in, and it’s always special to set records, although I wasn’t keen on the losing part! I’ve been quoted many times as saying I created the monster that Phil Taylor became, and you have to admire what Phil went on to achieve. Normally you look at a sport and if somebody has dominated for a decade they’ve done quite well, but Phil dominated for two decades, which shows the desire and the commitment of the man.”
Priestley eventually retired after the 2014 season. Taylor followed three years later. Priestley had expected the sport to go into a slump after "The Power's" farewell but that did not happen.
“I never expected the game to grow to the level it has,” he admits. “I thought when Phil walked away there may be a bit of a lull, but fair play to the youngsters and the other top professionals who have kept the game moving forwards. The game has gone from strength-to-strength. The PDC have always been one step ahead and they’ve kept evolving. It’s absolutely marvellous.”