The widely held image of professional darts on television screens as a beer-fueled pub game typically played by out-of-shape men has been shattered by the barrier-breaking exploits of a young Englishwoman.
Amid raucous scenes at London’s atmospheric Alexandra Palace, Fallon Sherrock became an unlikely overnight celebrity in Britain when she landed a double 18 to clinch victory over a male opponent at the sport’s flagship event, the PDC World Championship, on Tuesday.
It was a first win by a woman on darts’ highest stage, one that trended on Twitter and has catapulted the 25-year-old Sherrock into a life she could never have imagined.
Wednesday morning saw her appear on some of the biggest TV and radio shows in Britain. Much to her delight and surprise, she now has a blue tick next to her name on her Twitter account. The biggest payday of her career - by a long way - awaits her at the weekend.
Bigger than all that, she is now a trailblazer in the game.
“It definitely sends out a good statement,” Sherrock said. “We can beat the men.”
And how her win was celebrated. After hitting the winning double to claim a 3-2 victory over Ted Evetts, she skipped to the board to collect her darts and turned around to see a room of mostly inebriated men bouncing up and down and singing in celebration.
“We love you Fallon, we do,” they chanted, over and over again.
She shook hands with Evetts, who then applauded Sherrock and extended his right arm out as if to urge spectators to acclaim Sherrock, a one-time professional hairdresser who first picked up a dart when she was aged 17.
“I’ve always had the game,” she said Wednesday, “but us women have never had the opportunity to prove it.”
Until last year, that is. That was when the man that runs top-level darts, promoter Barry Hearn, allocated two of the 96 places in the world championship field to women. Previously, women could attempt to qualify for the event but now spots were guaranteed.
On Monday, Mikuru Suzuki - the women’s world champion - took James Richardson to a sudden-death leg in the fifth set before losing.
Before that, Gayl King of Canada (2000), Anastasia Dobromyslova of Russia (2009, 2018) and Lisa Ashton of England (2018) had played in the main draw, all losing in the first round.
Sherrock went one better, setting up a second-round match against Mensur Suljovic, the 11th seed from Austria, where she is guaranteed to win at least 15,000 pounds (nearly $20,000) even if she loses.