The moment that second attempt at double 18 was pinned, history had been made.
That double meant that 25-year-old Fallon Sherrock from Milton Keynes had beaten Ted Evetts to become the first woman ever to win a match at the PDC World Darts Championship, in what was only their fourth year of participation.
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She wasn’t done there. In her next match, against world number 11 Mensur Suljović, a tournament seed, she pinned the bullseye to claim an even more impressive win.
Sherrock, one of two females in the 96 strong field, made international news and, it was hoped, opened the gate for many more women darters to compete on equal terms with the men in the future.
Her breakthrough moment and follow-up victory will also have helped the men’s game as more and more people sat up and took notice of the game, way beyond UK borders.
Darts was already growing in popularity but when Sherrock made international news, journalists came from all around the world to talk about her achievements at the Alexandra Palace that December.
She even got a Tweet from Tennis icon Billie Jean King and an Instagram post from Sarah Jessica-Parker.
This is not the sort of coverage darters are used to. As for Sherrock herself, only a matter of weeks prior to her life-changing moment, she had been a single mum with a mobile hairdressing side hustle while competing in the now-defunct BDO.
Now, her efforts on the PDC Circuit had seen her rewarded with guest status for that year’s Darts Premier League Nottingham stopover where she took on, and tied with, the eventual winner Glen Durrant, who admitted that it was the toughest game he has ever had to play in.
She was also set to take part in the World Series in the USA and Australia.
Sherrock momentum halts due to 2020 happenings
But 2020 was cruel. For global sports in general but it also meant that her impact, which had been truly groundbreaking at the time, had now been dimmed and women’s darts’ momentum stunted.
It had been hoped that her and Lisa Ashton’s PDC Tour progress would lead to change and that women could be seen to be able to compete on level terms with men on a much more regular basis.
Instead, at high risk due to her well documented battles with kidney disease, she found herself at more risk than most, forcing her to stay home and play online darts against Phil Taylor and even former Bayern Munich and Italy footballer Luca Toni.
As it turned out, that Darts Premier League appearance, for which she could not earn points, was really the last we saw of her on TV.
There were two women participants at last year’s renewal of the World Championships, both of whom were eliminated in the first round, but there was no female presence at the UK Open, Matchplay or any other ranking PDC event.
A PDC Women’s tour?
For there to be progression in the women’s game, surely the next logical step would be a PDC women’s tour with a few crossover events.
With Lisa Ashton, Mikuru Suzuki, Deta Hedman, Lorraine Winstanley, Anastasia Dobromyslova and Beau Greaves all raising awareness for the women’s game, it seems like the next move.
In August 2020, the PDC announced plans to move the women’s game on and introduce a Women’s Series mini-tour for which Ally Pally qualification would be up for grabs.
While Sherrock supports more televised female events and a fully-fledged Women’s Tour, it must be careful not to tread on the toes of any move towards genderless darts and the efforts for women to be viewed as darts players rather than female darts players.
Perhaps the answer is to help develop female talent in the short term through all-female events in the main, while introducing some women participants in televised majors for long term inclusion.
That at least would be a fitting legacy for the Queen Of The Palace’s World Championship achievements rather than merely making a decent pub quiz question ten years from now.