Garry Plummer: The man behind Phil Taylor's darts reinvention
We meet the man behind the revolutionary new darts that Phil Taylor hopes will lead him to glory.
Last Updated: 20/05/14 3:19pm
In almost every post-match interview, The Power has dedicated his success to Garry Plummer, the man (or to use Phil's words the "genius"), who has designed the revolutionary new darts that he hopes will see him reclaim his world title at the end of the year.
Speaking to us in Brighton, after he qualified for the Play-Offs of this year's Premier League Darts, Taylor explained that the relationship between himself and the Managing Director of Target Darts is about much more than simply business.
He told skysports.com: "In your career you've got to keep pushing forward and trying different things and Target are very innovative. They are one of those up-and-coming companies and they want to make the company the best in the world.
"They are doing it by inventing different things and pushing forwards - and if you ask them for anything then straight away they do it for you.
"Garry has invented something that is making me a better player. He is there supporting me and is with me everywhere I go. He's the heart and soul behind me; he's not just my sponsor, he's like my best supporter."
When we tracked down Plummer at Target Darts' HQ in Harlow, the adulation of the 16-time World Champion had not gone unnoticed.
"[Sky Sports presenter] Dave Clark makes me laugh because he texts me saying 'I want to thank Garry, Garry, Garry, Garry and Garry.'
"The other week he sent me one saying 'Have you upset Phil? He never thanked you this week...'"
Plummer's company, Target Darts, caused shockwaves in the sport earlier this season when they confirmed the deal to sponsor Taylor on a seven-figure five-year contract.
It ended Taylor's long-standing relationship with Unicorn and realised a life-long dream for Plummer who has been working for Target since the age of 14 and has seen them grow from a small outfit to one that makes 20,000 sets of darts a week for sale around the world and sponsors big names including PDC stars Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall plus BDO World Champion Stephen Bunting.
But it was the signing of the game's greatest ever player that has taken them to a whole new level. Taylor has worked closely with Plummer and his team with around 45 people being involved in the design and manufacture of the darts Taylor has been using this season.
The factory is usually off limits to the public, but skysports.com was granted a rare tour around their impressive Harlow factory to see machines that can adjust the weight, balance, length and diameter of darts to almost impossible details.
The most impressive was probably the shadowgraph, which resembles a submarine telescope, and allows them to precisely replicate a dart to a player's precise specifications and measure depths of grooves on a dart to within 0.1mm.
And Plummer says that the link-up with the notoriously perfectionist Taylor has worked well due to their shared ideology.
"It's all about the attention to detail with him," he said.
"Whereas someone else won't worry about a diameter or an extra groove or a little bit of grip, he really gets down to the detail.
"It's not just in his head. It's what he believes and it really makes a difference to his game."
Commercially, the impact was immediate with Target's website and the site of one of the major darts retailers crashing on the day Taylor's new darts went on sale. Shops were selling a month's worth of stock in two days when the darts were launched in February.
But The Power did not enjoy such a good start with his new tools. He lost his opening Premier League match 7-0 to Michael van Gerwen and lost two of his next three games in the competition before being dumped out of the UK Open by TV debutant Aden Kirk.
However, Plummer said that they always expected teething problems as Taylor adjusted to his new arrows, especially after taking some time away from darts in January to focus on losing weight in Portugal.
"He said to me something along the lines of 'I might lose the first couple and this might take a couple of months'.
"His lack of confidence was the dart because it was new. He made fine changes and it was all about detail; he changed his shaft in the end because he likes a bit more weight on the back - but I'm talking such a fine detail.
"But when you watch his game it's all about fine detail, it's about getting inside that wire. When he wires something he doesn't think 'I threw that well, it should have gone in' - it's 'why didn't that go in? I don't want to hit that wire again'.
"That's his mindset and he'll make a change to better that."
Plummer recalls texting The Power the morning after his defeat to Van Gerwen and reassuring him that he knew exactly what changes he needed to make, resulting in the addition of a "nano grip" towards the back of the dart.
The changes appeared to do the trick. Taylor called him excitedly to report that he had hit ten 180's in half-an-hour on his practice board - and he hit two nine-darters at a Tour event in Wigan.
In Premier League terms, he moved from a perilous position near the bottom of the table to an eventual third-placed finish - and will go into Thursday night's Play-Offs at the O2 Arena with a strong chance of recapturing the trophy.
And if he picks up yet another major in London then you can guess who he'll be pointing at and thanking in his interview with Dave Clark afterwards!