Patrick Chaplin’s: The Last Word. Women,World Champions And The BDO!

To give our online readers some extra material, during the current times of increased isolation and physical distancing, we are re publishing som epieces from recent editions of the Darts World Magazine (Print Edition). Below Is Patrick Chaplin’s from February:

Headliner Hogger? Fallon Sherrock
Pic: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media

So the World Championships are over for another year; one a spectacle, the other, well I’m not so sure…

But of course the one person who hogged all the headlines was Milton Keynes’ Fallon Sherrock and deservedly so. What a performance! You don’t need me to tell you the story. We all know that Fallon became the first female player to beat a top male player in a World Championship and went on to beat another before falling to a third. In all my years of writing about the ladies game I’ve never known anything like it and I guess neither have you.

The media response to Fallon’s breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’ was immense, even warranting column inches in The Economist magazine! Journalist Bo Franklin wrote

Ms Sherrock, a far cry from the beer-bellied blokes who used to typify the game, symbolises how, in recent years, darts has gone from a peculiar British pastime to an entertainment juggernaut with transatlantic ambitions.

This has been great for Fallon who will surely go on to even better things but it’s also so good for women’s darts. Now that women’s darts has attracted the world’s attention what will happen? How can the momentum be maintained? I was hoping that it would start with impressive ladies’ performances in the BDO World Championships which largely, I have to say, disappointed.

Sadly Fallon’s success was, if only temporarily, overshadowed by the BDO having to slash the prize money in its World Championships something that, it appears, warranted Fallon withdrawing from that tournament. Part of me felt disappointed for her and the sport of darts but the other part said “Good on you Fallon. You now have control.”

Fallon will now work with her management and the PDC (probably harder than she has ever worked before) and who knows where it may lead. Of course, other women have preceded her by qualifying for the PDC World Championships. I expect the best of them, including Lisa Ashton, Anastasia Dobromyslova and Mikuru Suzuki, to lead the rest of the pack into this new era of women’s darts. If the opportunities present themselves then I am absolutely sure they will embrace them and that many others will then follow.

Fallon has shown that it can be done. (We all knew it could. We just didn’t know exactly when.) A top woman player can beat top men. Now all we need is for a woman to go one better and become PDC World Champion, I guess not yet awhile, but having said that who thought Fallon could beat Ted Evetts, let alone 11th seed Mensur Suljovic and then give Chris Dobey a run for his money? Come on. Be honest!

2020 will be a very important year for women’s darts. Who’s to say they can’t emulate the success of women in cricket and football who have made great strides in their sports in such a relatively short space of time?

Just under the wire, of 50 years of age, Wright claimed his first World title.

Emotional scenes too when, at last, Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright lifted his first world title, so well-deserved. We’ve all watched him come so close but fail at the final hurdle. He desperately wanted to win the title before he was 50 and he did just that by the narrowest of margins (He reaches that age next month) but he also broke his duck by at last beating MvG in a major final. No more ‘The Nearly Man’, I can see Wrighty taking all before him this coming year buoyed up by that singular, vital win at Ally Pally and a new found confidence born of that success and guaranteed financial stability.

New Signings for 2020 include MVG & VVV!

And talking of MvG, I was thrilled to learn in early January that ‘Mighty Mike’ and his great friend Vincent van der Voort have both been signed by WINMAU. Reaction on social media has been incredible with many agreeing that WINMAU is by far the best place to be. How can I disagree with that? After all, WINMAU sponsor my research! No surprise though that business has been ‘crazy’ for MvG and Vincent’s products at WINMAU since the very moment of the announcements of the signings.

On a much sadder note it seems, at the time of writing, that the BDO is in turmoil and that January 2020 will go down in darts history as the month that the organisation responsible for making darts what it is today descended into terminal decline. I have no inside knowledge, and writing this a few days before the BDO World Championship ends, can only judge from what I read in the national newspapers, social media and the BDO website. PDC Chairman Barry Hearn, was reported in Metro as stating “They’re f***ed”.

Certainly that appears to be the case but part of me hopes that the organisation that started the ‘modern era’ for darts can think deeply about its future and, if it decides that it has one, goes about carefully redefining its purpose and reassessing its worth. Who knows? The BDO Board may decide that it can serve no useful purpose in which case then this previously ground-breaking darts organisation will, like the NDAGB before it, be consigned to the history books.

Can the BDO survive? I’d appreciate your views. However, it may well be that, by the time you read this, the question is purely academic.

Patrick Chaplin

Patrick is adarts historian, enthusiast and academic. His work is supported by Winmau and can be seen in fuller detail here.

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