Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Fallon Sherrock: The gift sport needed and got this Christmas

Posted on 28 December 2019 by Alex Bartlett

And like that it was over.

Fallon Sherrock’s dream run at the PDC William Hill World Darts Championship came to an end yesterday but her legacy will never be forgotten.

Over the past two weeks the former hairdresser from Bletchley has not just transformed her own life nor the game of darts, she has produced one of the biggest moments in the history of women’s sport.

Last week she appeared in the New York Times, on breakfast tv in the UK and has drawn attention, praise and admiration from the leader of sports ‘battle of the sexes’, Billie Jean King.

In the same way that King so gracefully captured the hearts of the people in 1973, Sherrock has done the same 46 years later.

Men, Women and children alike all flocked to the Alexandra Palace to catch a glimpse of the newly dubbed “Queen of the Palace”.

The ‘Ally Pally’ crowd chanted Sherrock’s name the same way they used to serenade their hero and the greatest of them all Phil Taylor.

King’s feat came at time when women’s sport seemed to be a completely different world to what we know now.

Sherrock’s triumph comes at the end of a decade which has seen women’s sport grow like never before.

First it was Jessica Ennis. The poster girl for the London Olympics. She delivered in style.

England’s women won the Rugby World Cup in 2014, their cricketers matching them so dramatically in 2018.

The significance of the latter? Well it was at Lords. The Home of Cricket. The same venue that the men claimed their title in similarly spectacular fashion this year. 24,000 the attendance for the women’s final.

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Women’s football has been transformed after two successful World Cups in Canada and France and in the Women’s Super League a record crowd of 38,262 watched the North London derby.

Then there is the Winter Olympics. Amy Williams in Vancouver Lizzie Yarnold in Sochi and Pyeongchang both carrying the flag for GB.

The list of female sporting achievements in the last decade could go on and on.

But no matter how remarkable they are none of these moments match the magic and significance of Sherrock’s performance over the past two weeks.

What better way to end a decade of progress than a woman beating a man just as King did to Bobby Riggs all those years ago.

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Despite the disappointment at the end of Fallon’s fairytale run, there was no sign of this on stage after her 4-2 defeat to Chris Dobey.

Just euphoria.

“There’s only one Fallon Sherrock” and “Hey Baby” reverberated around the arena throughout and long after she had been defeated.

It looked for a large part of the afternoon that she was going to do it again. Sherrock came out flying, smashing three 180s in the opening two legs and taking the first set 3-1.

Her fantastic finishing was there to see again. 140. 104. 124. Checkouts that would have even the best of the best in awe.

With Sherrock 2-1 up it looked like it may happen, but credit must be handed to Dobey who admitted after to wearing earplugs to deal with the crowd noise.

Once he took the lead he would not relinquish it, reeling off nine of the last ten legs.

Afterwards on stage he stepped a side for Fallon to have her moment and  he could only add to the praise of Fallon. He described it as “without a doubt” the toughest game of his career to date.

“Fair play to Fallon she threw everything at me, throughout the game and even after the game she was absolutely fantastic and she deserves all the credit she gets” Dobey said.

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Fitting perhaps that her Hollywood style run would end against the man they called Hollywood.

Other competitors and colleagues paid their tributes. Veteran Simon Whitlock, who earlier defeated Mervyn King said: “The first time I ever watched her I thought wow this girl is amazing at darts. She has won two amazing games so far, she is world class.”

Whitlock added: “It is going to encourage more young girls to play darts and she is just smashing it up and it is so good for darts”

As for Fallon her life has changed in the space of two weeks.

“I feel so confident up there, I feel so comfortable, it is the most comfortable that I have ever felt playing on the stage and I have just loved every minute of it,” she said.

On what her goals for the future are she added: “I would say the ladies world championships, but obviously this is bigger. This is probably the best experience I’ve ever had so I really want to come back here next year, so that is more important to me.”

Whatever 2020 holds for Fallon Sherrock she has managed to capture the hearts of the nation and this story has shown once again that nothing can match the emotions and stories of professional sport.

Thank you Fallon Sherrock. Thank you.