As the 2020 PDC World Championship kicked off just over two weeks ago at the Alexandra Palace, few could have imagined the shockwaves former BDO Women’s World Championship finalist Fallon Sherrock would have caused during her stay in north London. From the moment she planted that double 18 to defeat Ted Evetts in round one, Sherrock created a storm which would see news of her successes reach stateside, with recognition from fellow female sports trailblazer Billie Jean King, plenty of TV and radio appearances, and perhaps most significantly, troves of new darts fans tuning in to follow her World Championship trials and tribulations.
It may well take days or weeks before the enormity of the 25-year-old’s achievements hits home. And with a trip to New York in 2020 for the World Series to look forward to, it is fair to say she won’t be made to forget about it either. But for Sherrock, before her eyes, her life has well and truly changed. Not only will she pocket £25,000, a very welcome Christmas present, she is likely to have a rapid increase in exhibitions and potentially even competitive events next year, with PDC chairman Barry Hearn no doubt eyeing her up for more World Series events than the one she is already jetting off for, the Grand Slam and, if the contenders feature is continued for next year, the Premier League. There may well be no time at all to breathe and truly contemplate her impact.
Her time at the Ally Pally will no doubt ignite a greater debate about how women can be supported to success in the game, too. In some of the longest professional games ever contested by a woman, Fallon has averaged 91, 90 and 90 respectively in games spanning 5, 4 and 6 sets. And she has done so against three very fine players in Ted Evetts, Mensur Suljovic and Chris Dobey, no pushovers by any estimation. The PDC has long said that it supports a mixed circuit and refused pressure to explore the possibility of a women-only tour. But Sherrock’s successes mean that the issue is unlikely to be brushed under the carpet any time soon, and it is hard to see how, whether through more slots in existing events as done for the PDC World Championship or maybe a single-sex competition of their own, there isn’t increased effort to capitalise on the buzz created by this Worlds. The decision may even fall out of the hands of the PDC if one or more of the sport’s leading ladies are able to win a Tour Card at Qualifying School in January.
However, perhaps most exciting of all is the unknown and unknowable impact of Fallon Sherrock’s tilt at the World title. The amount of young girls tuning into the arraz over Christmas who may well put a dartboard on next year’s Christmas list or the already interested women empowered and emboldened by her run to the last 32 who use this as the impetus to practice more or play more, and may well be up there themselves in 5, 10 or 20 years time. For Sherrock, there is no doubt this is a massive personal achievement. But she may well have just singlehandedly helped to change the course of the sport forever.
Image Credits: PDC