Unsung heroes – Nick FullWell
Nick Fullwell was already known to many people involved in darts. 2019 witnessed him become known to a lot more. Hopefully, he is not finished yet!
Nick has been playing professional darts for almost fifteen years. The last twelve months have seen him step up a level, in terms of results. TV appearances, at the recent World Masters, was followed by immediate qualification for the 2020 World Championships. Nick joined the band of dual-code World Championship contestants after playing in the PDC version in 2009.
It is, perhaps, at the level just below such rarity that the former Pro Tour finalist and West Midlands County player has improved strongly. Once again, he claimed a Challenge Tour (PDC) title but was not quite consistent enough to challenge in the Order of Merit. Yet, having begun to enter more and more BDO events, he started to pick up other titles and register strong performances.
He has claimed the Torremelinos Classic and a clutch of finals, including the difficult Lincolnshire Open, the last year. In, what was to prove, a telltale sign Nick reached the semi-finals of the English Nationals in June as his run of success kicked on.
All this was after finding himself in a tough spot during 2015. In April of that year, Nick had had enough. A poor run of results had resulted in no earnings/ranking points, on the Challenge Tour, with things seeming to go from bad to worse. Not one to give in easily, as his kickboxing black belt should signal, Nick sought out some assistance ‘on the oche’. For the next twelve months or so, he dramatically increased his practice and worked with a coach/mentor to see if he could put things right.
A change of darts was initiated and, together with a stronger mindset and hard work, it began to pay off. Just over a year on, from his worst performances, Fullwell claimed his first PDC title winning a Challenge tour in May 2016. Meanwhile he was showing superb form in Open events and, together with his ‘partner in crime’ Ian ‘Whippet’ Jones, winning or reaching the later stages of almost every one he entered.
Tragedy, however, was imminent. At the same time, as this superb turnaround was taking place, Nick’s wife, and childhood sweetheart, Sharon was diagnosed with Cancer. Showing remarkable courage, the couple managed Sharon’s illness as best as they could, while raising money for Cancer charities, while ensuring that their two children were spared as much trauma as possible. Ultimately, after a courageous and lengthy fight, Sharon passed away.
Nick’s focus and energies were then devoted to ensuring that his children were comforted and helped through school, college and more of life’s journeys. When time allowed Nick picked his darts and played for the sheer enjoyment of playing. Local events, a few county matches and a memorial event in honour of his wife. But family came first and darts was put in its proper perspective.
Slowly, over the next few years, Nick has built up the next stage of his life and put his efforts back into the game he loves. He plays his county darts for Lincolnshire and has been playing more BDO events combined with the Challenge Tour. The rewards started to come in 2019, Nick began winning big events, and major opens again. He qualified for the World Masters and was unlucky to draw Scott Waites early on.
A few years back Nick was encouraged to be aggressive and almost angry when he played, it was thought that this might get the best out of him. Nick and others resisted this and instead tried to be as relaxed as possible and enjoy the game. In short, he refused to be who he was not and remained true to himself.
His reward was a place a place in the recent BDO World Championship. Finally, Mr Fullwell began to show us what he can really do. A very good performance in Rd 1 saw the back of David Cameron and Nick was unlucky not to go further missing out, against the up and coming David Evans, after missing a bull shot for the match.
So, when you see Nick Fullwell play at this year’s events, spare a thought and perhaps a cheer, for one of the nicest people in the game of darts. Few have worked as hard, suffered such misfortune or deserve success more than he.