Author Archives: jrlott

Unsung Heroes – Kirk Shepherd

Kirk’s run in 2008 was remarkable, those who knock it are fools, yet it could have been even better! If Kirk had done nothing else he would warrant a place amongst our ‘Unsung Heroes‘.

In most any other sports Kirk Shepherd’s run to the final of the World Championship of 2008 would be fondly remembered as a beacon of possibility and a wonderful fairy tale story. Yet in darts, it’s almost a dirty little secret, whenever you hear it referred to in commentary, or amongst players, the words you will hear most include ‘lucky’, ‘good draw’ and ‘missed opportunities’.

Yet Kirk was only 21 years old and making his debut appearance, at darts’ biggest event after coming through the qualifiers. It was also the debut year of the Alexandra Palace as the venue making it even more imposing than normal. Surely, this should be regarded as almost Boris Becker like?

For a young man, Kirk had already had a decent record in competitive darts. He was twice British Teenage Champion, and a World Youth Master, between 2003 and 2006. He had not yet made much headway on the PDC Pro Tour, but his form in Open events was very good indeed and this is a better guide to current form. In addition, he had form in previous big events including smashing Gary Anderson with ease on more than one occasion. A brief look back confirms that he had previously defeated some of those who would remove from Ally Pally.

In the weeks running up to the event, Kirk determined that he was going to give a decent account of himself. He arranged for a local county player to visit him regularly and they practiced every evening for the proceeding weeks. By the time came for Shepherd to take his bow versus Terry Jenkins most of those who knew him thought he would do well. He did better than that! Kirk removed the multi-major finalist 3 sets to 2, playing superbly in patches and, piling the pressure onto Terry. It was a pattern that Sheperd was to repeat and others seemed powerless to prevent.

When you hear the traditional running down of Kirk’s effort, try switching the situation in your mind. “Everyone had darts to beat him” you will hear or “they missed a lot of doubles” or even “his averages were only in the 80’s“. These remarks totally miss the point. How on earth did a 21-year-old qualifier generate the nerves and pressure that caused highly ranked and highly senior players to allow him to be so close and to keep fluffing their lines?

It is not unusual for an unknown player to have a small run at the World Champs but it is seriously rare for them to get past the last 16 or Quarterfinals, how did Kirk do it, and especially how did he do it whilst appearing to not be performing above the expected level. This is the real key to a remarkable run and something that every new, unknown, or underdog player should think about and study.

Rob Cross’s remarkable run of 2018 can be simply explained. He outplayed and or outlasted his opponent in every round. He is a superb player, lesser-known at this level, who had been settling rapidly into PDC life. He was also 29 years old with a family and support network. In short the perfect combination of talent and timing. It is not easy for any other player to replicate such an effort.

Kirk is a very expressive man. But he held these emotions in tight check during every game. Until it was won!

However, Kirk’s run was different, from that sensible early preparation and the seriously focussed temperament, especially visible against McGowen and Mardle, any player capable of qualifying is capable of emulating Kirk.

Against Jenkins and McGowen Kirk had the advantage of knowing he had defeated them before and had to simple perform again. Thus the stage and the occasion had to be relegated to the background. This also ensured that Kirk did not feel like the underdog and, more importantly, did not act like one. Watch the games carefully, at no point does Shepherd look subservient or like the new boy in school. He knows he is playing well. He is winning legs in superb style and hitting very big shots when needed. The less good efforts are quickly dismissed and he is on to the next throw.

Belief is a major factor that cannot be overestimated. Watch closely and you will see that whenever Kirk’s opponent had darts to win an important leg/set or even the match, Kirk is right behind him with the same attitude he would have had on any other throw. He simply believes he is going to get another throw and he must be ready for it.

The final ingredient in Kirk’s superb run was a refusal to be intimidated. Watch closely, especially against Wayne Mardle, and you will see all the tactics, totally fair, used by a senior or highly successful player against one they regard as a junior. Kirk stands for none of it. Refusing to change attitude, pace, style or manner.

The end result is that senior players are changing their own games or concentrating on Kirk’s instead of their own. Mardle, for example, plays at least three different paces during the match. This plan fails completely and Kirk gets time to settle in and get his own game going. Once he is in full swing Mardle cannot find a way to both get himself up to 100% and impact Shepherd long enough to fully swing the game in his favour. He comes close but Kirks attitude and the lead he had gained ensured he had enough to get over the line. This was a semi-final of a world championship and the senior player had effectively bowed to the junior. But of course, it was “just lucky really”.

It is not fully known but the story could have been even more glorious. Kirk is not one for whining or making excuses, I suspect he has heard enough of those from others, but his performance in the final was hampered by a surprising source, SKY TV!

Kirk had been suffering from the effects of a mild cold for a couple of days around his Semi-Final. After reaching the final, however, there was much to do in terms of media and promotion for the final. This is normal and accepted by all players. However, in this case, it was above and beyond! Kirk was kept waiting around until very late at night, in a very cold venue, and with fake mist/ice to create an effect for one of the promotional trailers. A few of those closest to Kirk note that his cold deteriorated badly and he played the final in a very poor state of health.

Much of the credit for Kirk not getting going in the final must be given to John Part. He did the opposite of the others, who had fallen victim to Kirk, and imposed himself very early and treated Kirk as just another obstacle in his path to a third World title. But maybe, just maybe, a fully fit Kirk would have enjoined the battle earlier and returned the pressure we may then have been in for a real treat and a fitting finale to one of the great underdog runs!


P.s. Don’t write off the “Martial Dartist”! He is only 33 and has retained or regained his tour card three times already. In 2017 he reached the last 32 of the UK Open and had shown flashes on the Pro Tour in recent times. Perhaps a fairytale return is not out of the question.

Paul Lim – A Global Legacy

Merely weeks after this article appeared, in Darts World Magazine, Paul Lim claimed his place at the 2020 PDC World Championships. Perhaps there is another chapter left to be written:

Paul Lim may perfectly symbolize the future of darts. The legendary ‘Singapore Slinger’, now 66, is certainly the ultimate Hybrid darter. He has played big-time darts for almost forty years and been successful in every arena and format the game has offered. 

Paul Lim | Target Darts
The Legend: Paul Lim ( Image Target Darts)

His overall significance to the sport may outweigh any of his individual achievements, although there are so many it’s hard to be certain. Target’s ‘Legend’ has triumphed in the BDO as well as in the PDC, he has twice been a world champion in soft tip darts, almost twenty years and two different codes separated his 1996 and 2017 triumphs.  

In between these individual efforts, Paul has represented four different nations in World Cups and team events. Dart’s World would not bet against him reappearing, and succeeding, in the remote darts realm. 

Lim burst onto the professional scene by winning the Australian Grand Masters in 1983, over the next half dozen years Lim made a plethora of quarter and semi-final appearances in major steel tip events, including the World Cup Singles and World Matchplay, across the globe. Then in 1990 Lim wrote his name indelibly in darts history. 

John Lowe had hit the first TV perfect leg a few years before. Yet, none had been hit since until Lim stepped up to the Lakeside oche. Nine sublime darts later the Singapore ace hit a plumb double twelve to complete the first World Championship ‘Nine’! A brief look on YouTube shows just how clean and controlled his effort was. Lim was now an icon in the game. 

BBC Sport - Darts - Paul Lim's nine-dart finish in 1990
Lim on his way to the first World Championship ‘9’.

Sadly, Paul’s great moment coincided with a decline in the TV popularity of steel tip darts, especially in the UK. Lim continued to play the biggest events but could not sustain himself with that alone. In an effort to boost his career and earning potential he combined his steel tip efforts with North American soft-tip tournament. Again, his efforts paid off in a major way.  

In 1996 Lim claimed his first World title. His victory in the Bull Shooter soft–tip championships confirmed that he could play at an elite level in either format, something he has continued to the present day. 

During the following years Lim became what in other sports would be considered a’ journeyman pro’ he played the major events in both formats. In addition, he demonstrated he could play in any company. From 1994 Lim played within the PDC system and competed with players such as Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley. 

For most of this period Lim was based in either the USA Japan or his native Singapore. However, by the 2000s Paul was no longer reaching the later stages or collecting serious prize money and a great career looked to be winding down. Then something remarkable happened, in 2011 soft tip darts underwent a major makeover and guess who became its instant poster boy! 

As part of a re-packaging, of the machine based soft tip game, a $1,000,000 World Championship was held in Hong Kong. In a field packed full of soft-tip super stars, and steel tip icons, Lim came through to claim the title aged 57 (something about that number Wayne Warren?). 

In a remarkable piece of happenstance, the PDC arranged a commercial tie-up with the new DartsLive organisation, which Lim was already dominating, an extended an invitation to their champion to play the PDC World Championship at Ally Pally! The following year he qualified again via the  Dartslive route. 

By now Paul had completely mastered the art of playing hybrid darts. He seemed focused on soft-tip in Asia and still crossed back and forth to play PDC events including World Cups. His gentlemanly demeanor and iconic status ensured he became a firm favourite with the fans. But Lim was not merely a performing seal and not yet finished with creating moments of darting drama. 

Paul Lim - Home | Facebook

In 2017 Singapore pulled of one of the biggest shocks seen in the PDC’s World Cup of darts, when they defeated Scotland’s crack team of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright. They went on to defeat Spain in round-two and reach the Qtrs finals. The very next year Lim created a moment of almost perfect sporting nostalgia, the opponent/ Why Gary Anderson of course. 

The 2018 World Championship saw Lim roll back the years and defeat former World Champion Mark Webster. His last 16 game featured a remarkable moment. Lim seemed to be tired and started slowly, before suddenly producing six perfect darts. The crowd realised what could be happening, his opponent, Anderson, knew what was happening, but could it? Could lightning strike twice nearly thirty years apart? 

Paul Lim, 63 years old was about to complete a phenomenal legacy of global, multi format, multi code and multi era darting glory. The perfect bookend to a remarkable journey! 

The first two darts found their targets and with a near hysterical crowd Lim went to release the 9th dart. In a highly unusual moment, there was a very faint twitch and the dart missed the double twelve bed. The disappointment was universal, Anderson looked almost as crestfallen as Paul! Despite the miss Paul was lauded around  the globe and the reminder of his remarkable career.  

Just in case you think the story is over, think again! In 2018 the PDC launched their Asian (Steel tip) tour and yes, you guessed it the first Tai Pai weekend saw one player reach the final of event one and then win event two. That player? Paul Lim. 


Update: Despite the huge disruption to the 2020 season, caused by the Corona virus, Paul qualified for the World Championship by claiming the Hong Kong qualifying event.


JR Lott writes a Lott! Follow him @JRLott2 

BoardRoom News: Player Beware.

Boardroom News would like to make players aware of a disturbing new habit within certain sectors of our business. All aspiring tour/professional players should view any sponsorship offer with close scrutiny and even a little skepticism.  

The more unscrupulous element of our industry is approaching players who may just have reached the second rank or be approaching the level where they may get attention from the bigger names. These players are then offered a form of equipment only sponsorship deal, that may prove attractive at that point in their career. 

Plenty of branded accessories, clothing, or other items are offered, thus the deal looks attractive and may be tempting. But there may be another element to such offers. On more than one occasion recently players have been offered a very limited barrel deal, 2-6 sets of their own darts, on a very short-term basis. 

Closer scrutiny leads us to believe that there may be a subtle attempt to obtain intellectual property (IP) rights via the back door. Player’s designs or even those of the company that manufactured an original dart can be copied and then re used after the new player’s deal has expired. 

It would be difficult for one brand to claim infringement if the new company could show the product was designed and marketed for another player. The player finds themselves without an equipment supplier and having to purchase their own designed/labeled darts within a year, while the company gains a sought-after design for minimal cost. 

A recent example went like this: Player A, who used a ‘legendary player’ barrel, was offered such a deal out of the blue. A design was then produced which was a copy of the original (with a couple of cosmetic changes). The prospective sponsor was very keen to ensure both soft tip and steel were included, even though the player had no interest in the soft tip arena.  

However, the player was only experimenting with that barrel and requested that the design was changed to his preferred style and shape. The deal was instantly withdrawn and further discussion refused. 

AIM: has seen the written details of this process and is deeply concerned. We have witnessed a second, although less clear cut, example, and a third is ongoing. 

Whilst we value the benefits of sponsorship and accept that differing levels ensure more players benefit, and more models are made, we feel that players must be fully aware of the motives and possibilities behind these ‘sponsorships’.  

We strongly suggest that any such sudden unexplained offer is looked over by an independent third party who can provide an objective assessment of any such ‘small print’.  

Unexplained laughs? Check Your flies. Unexplained Offers? Check the clauses!


Words: JR Lott (Originally appeared in Darts World Magazine 571)

The Immortals – Bob Anderson, A Limestone Legacy.

In 1986 a fourth member joined Eric, John, and Jocky at darts’ top table. Although no one claimed there was ‘a new sheriff in town’, there certainly was a cowboy and a limestone one at that. 

Bob Anderson didn’t quite fit the mold of a professional dart player. Tall, lean, and quite athletic in build, the former javelin thrower had been making waves in the sport since claiming the 1983 British Open. Even this was preceded by a fine run to the last 16 of the World Masters as far back as 1979. 

The World Masters - A three time winner.
A Master at Work – Bob with The World Masters trophy (Pic: Steve Dazsko)

In 1986 he claimed his first ‘major’ TV title and began a run that would see him claim a unique hattrick of Winmau World Masters titles. A new character and a major talent had been added to the darts mix. 

The guys over at dartsdatabase.com recently crunched the numbers and Bob’s averages from the mid-80s to 1990 stand out, ‘The Limestone Cowboy’ often topped the leagues. 

More important than averages, or mere statistics, was Bob’s style, manner, and talent. His finger-pointing, gunslinger mannerisms, and a more aggressive approach ensured that high-level drama and entertainment were ever-present when Bob was on stage. 

The new ‘Musketeer’ did not merely contribute titles. He added a dash of flair and individualism by bringing his love of country music to the stage. Tasseled shirts, bright red trousers, and a variety of overall ‘looks’ combined superbly with the ‘Cowboy’ moniker. Could it be that Peter Wright has simply taken this to its logical extreme? 

Very few players can claim to have straddled three eras competitively, but Anderson can claim at least that many. His late 1970s forays were followed by taking on the big three in their heyday, as darts moved into the 90s Bob was tackling Taylor and Priestley in their prime and continued to do so until the 2008 World Championships (PDC). From John Lowe in 1979 to Jelle Klaasen and Colin Lloyd in the 2000s the Limestone Cowboy went one-on-one with them all. 

From a starring role in darts first golden era, Champion of Champions in 1990, to one of the WDC 16 who founded the modern professional game (and found themselves banned from playing as a result). Bob played a strong role in helping to promote the new organisation, even agreeing to ‘walk on’ with a horse for the World championships. It’s fair to say that Anderson’s career mirrors the history of modern darts. 

He was not however some sort of honorary figurehead! Throughout the 90s and into the next decade Bob fought with, and challenged, the very best of two full eras of PDC giants. In both 2004 & 5, by now in his late 50s, he underlined just how good he was with two tremendous World Championship semi-final runs.  

Bob Anderson - Swindon's world darts champion 1988 | SwindonWeb

For many, it’s the 1988 Bob that sticks in the memory. The Clevedon man enjoyed a purple patch winning six major trophies, in twelve months and captured that elusive World title with an overall performance that would have graced The Lakeside stage in any era. The Limestone Cowboy had cemented his legacy. 


Words: JR Lott ( A version of this piece appeared in Darts World Magazine (571) Sept/Oct 2020)

Featured Pics: Steve Daszko

More about Bob or perhaps book an exhibition? Here.

The Immortals – Eric Bristow – How Good Was ‘The Crafty Cockney’?

Darts’ favourite son would have been 63 years old this year. One of the founders of our feast, and easily the game’s most intriguing character, Eric is remembered for many different things, by differing generations. But it should never be forgotten that he really could play!

Eric Bristow Passes Away | PDC
Eric accepts adulation (Pic: L Lustig)

Along the wall in my ‘darts space’ are a few framed photos on prominent display. Each features a player who has made a contribution to the  game or offers an interesting lesson for the players that visit.

We were recently visited by a very senior figure in the darts business. As the conversation flowed our guest happened to glance at the ‘Hall of Fame’ and asked why each player was there. We soon arrived at the largest photo; this signed early 1980’s shot, of The Crafty Cockney, signifies the invention, and perfection, of the player package.

To my great surprise, the reply came “Yes, but was he really that good?”. I gave the short version of Eric’s ability but was absolutely amazed that the question was asked. But as time passes, new generations have naturally come to the game in the era of The Power, Fordham, Hankey and MVG. Their view of those who built the platform, for today’s icons, is similar to how we might look back at black and
white footage of golfers, tennis stars or footballers.

But it will not stand that they, and Eric especially, should simply merge in with a group of dimly remembered figures. By almost every measure Eric ranks as one of the top three players to have played the professional game, and there is a very strong case for him to be the most important:

The Big One

The Crafty Cockney, starting when only 23 years old, won five world championships, in seven years, including two back-to-backs and a hattrick. It is often forgotten that he also reached another five finals. Every win was over a top-five player and every loss was to a darting titan. During this entire period, there was only one World Championship, and it featured every top professional in the field. The format
was also very short in the early rounds.

Eric Bristow - Mastercaller.com
5 World Titles, in a unified field. Only ‘The Power’ claimed more

There is no one, other than Phil Taylor, who gets close to Eric’s effort. After Barney joined the PDC in 2007 you could make a case for the field being similarly strong to those from pre-1994. ‘The Power’ claimed only three World titles over the next decade.

The Full House

The second greatest event during this era was the World Masters. It was incredibly difficult to win, being unseeded and played from floor to stage. Eric won his first Masters at the age of 20 and claimed a total of five between 1977 and 1984. No player, from any era, has gotten close to this. Bob Anderson’s three in a row was outstanding and, perhaps, the closest there will ever be. Eric also claimed back-to-back
News of the World events, one of only three to do so, and the World Cup singles crown four times on the bounce. Neither Phil nor MVG managed to add the World Cup Singles to their lists.

In addition, Eric won multiple versions of the Matchplay (British and World), The Grand Masters, Golden Arrows and every other major/TV event available to him. Even after his glory years he picked up a World Pair title (PDC) to go with his earlier WDF version. All-in-all Eric collected a total of over thirty ‘major’ events, in a day when there were far fewer, and with a united field of the highest quality.

Performance Level:

With the modern obsession with averages the fact that current players hit 100+ averages at a stroll is often used to belittle those who have gone before. This, however, is both false and unfair. Eric hit what he needed to hit to subdue his opponent and win the match. His 103+ to defeat Jocky Wilson in the 1983 World Cup final and his 101 to defeat Kieth Deller in the 1983 Masters (final again!) were
remarkable at the time and would stand up in many finals today. The Crafty Cockney recorded a 105+ vs Alan Glazier earlier in 1983; this remained unbeaten until Phil Taylor claimed a 107+ eight year later.

Two matches that demonstrate Eric’s ability are the final of the World Masters in 1984 and the World Championship Final of 1985. They display his sheer talent and his matchplay and psychology skills in perfect harmony. Deller was defeated as much by psychology as by scoring, whereas Lowe was battered into submission with a blizzard of 180’s in the early stages. (Check them out on You Tube!)

As a final point it should be remembered that as well as the natural advance of any skill over time, the equipment and technology improvements that have been made since 1983 have been dramatic. Darts, stems and flights but especially boards and professionalism, have developed massively. The scoring areas of modern boards (especially in the PDC) are considerably larger and no longer surrounded by
rounded wires, staples and other such obstacles. Combined with the conditions, security of income and volume of opportunities to play top-level darts, the modern player has a big advantage.

If we grant Eric even 10 percent, for these handicaps, his performance level would move up to around 115+. This would put him straight into the top three of all time! (Add in his usual determination to be the best and who knows?)

The Complete Package:

In addition to Eric’s remarkable ability, and phenomenal winning record, it should not be forgotten that true ‘oche legends’ are not only remembered for their scoring, or finishing, alone. They are remembered for a mix of their sporting prowess, on-stage image, off-stage personality and what they bring to, and leave for, their sport. Bristow brought us an unmatched package of skill, unrivalled competitiveness,
pomp, aggression, flair and humour.

Eric Bristow created the template for the professional dart player. He also went out and sold it to the world. It is very hard to think of any other player, past or present, who can compete on those terms.

Yes, The Crafty Cockney really was that good, please don’t forget it!


Words: J.R. Lott (Article originally appeared on Darts Planet TV in April 2020)

Unsung heroes – Alan Evans

Unsung Heroes – ‘Evans the Arrow’. 

In the modern era of ‘Professional’ darts, we take it for granted that the players at the very top of the game enjoy at least ‘a good living’ from the game. Alan Evans, ‘Evans the Arrow’ has a claim to have been the first Professional dart player. During the mid-seventies, he was driven from venue to venue taking on all comers sometimes for £1000’s. 

Those of you will longer memories, or YouTube addictions, may recall seeing the diminutive Welshman in gripping, not exactly friendly, struggles with some of the legendary figures in darts.  But most will not be aware of the efforts and contribution made by the fiercely competitive and highly talented player. 

Amongst his playing achievements were finals of The News of the World & The Indoor League events.  These were amongst the first televised events, Evans also made the final of the first event to be screened on the BBC, The 1975 British Open. During that same year, he claimed the World Masters title. The Welsh Team, of which Evans was a member, cleaned up the titles at the initial World Cup in 1977. 

These tremendous results happened in the few years prior to the beginning of darts first golden era. Evans may well have peaked a little too soon. He was twice defeated at the semi-final stage of the World Championships by Leighton Rees and even banned for a year by the BDO. Sadly, Evans seemed to play a secondary role on the biggest stages and never quite hit the very highest level again. Although a superb 1987 run to the World Championship Semi almost provided a fairytale for the Rhonnda Legend’. 

Evans has a few other claims to fame, he scored once 401 in 9 darts (doubled to £802 for charity) in TV’s Bullseye’s guest professional round. No one ever scored higher. It was reported and witnessed that, during a Scottish exhibition night, Evans hit the 8 separate 150 checkouts going the 3 x Bullseye route. Alan even played Muhammed Ali in a special “World Championship” match. 

Evans was a serious competitor and, at his best, a sensational player. It is a shame that TV did not witness him at his sustained best. His contribution to our game should not be underestimated. Perhaps the best indication of his impact on audiences was the tributes paid by Sid Waddell. Sid would refer to the “Alan Evans Shot” if a player needed 150 to finish a leg and would often use him to illustrate fighting qualities or sudden spells of blistering form. Waddell had seen players come and go for decades with very few being awarded this type of accolade. When Evans passed away in 1999 at the age of 49, it was Sid wrote the tribute.  

Phrases including “the balance of Nureyev” are not often equated with darters but perhaps only the combination of Sid & ‘Evans the Arrow’ could produce them with sincerity. 

Like many unsung heroes, Alan Evans didn’t enjoy the full rewards of what he helped to create but his role was in creating them should be remembered. 


A version of this article appeared in Darts World magazine 2020.

Words: JR Lott

Unsung Heroes – Paul Cook

To those supposedly ‘in the know’ Bobby George is the only person to win The News of the World event without dropping a leg. Swindon locals, quite a few darters from around the country, and the friends of Paul Cook will tell you differently.

My Darts Journey - Trying to make it in the World of Darts!: Interview with  the Last News Of The World Darts Championship Winner: Paul Cook

Cookie, as he is known, won the News of the World title in 1990, defeating Steve Hudson 2-0 in the final. For many years it was assumed that Paul would be remembered as the last ever winner. Indeed many consider him to be just that. The 1997 reboot lasted one year and was certainly not a continuation of great run  1948 – 1990.

Friends testify that he often puts down his darts after a game or event and does not pick them up again until the next event. Sometimes this appears to be a ten-year wait! Not many would be able to contemplate this, let alone have the confidence to carry it out.

It is quite shocking, but typical of Cookie, that his record (on dartsdatabase.com) begins with that major triumph. He seems to appear from thin air and disappear just as quickly! So far his career is 27 years long and runs to just one page of event results. Following his sensational 1990 win, there is a six-year gap where he appears not to have thrown a competitive dart!

Cookie resurfaces at the 1996 Antwerp Open and reaches the last 16. The 8 players who reached the qtr finals were basically the best in the world including the winner Bob Anderson, and others including Dennis Priestley, so it seems safe to assume Cookie was again in superb nick. In the next fifteen months Cookie reached the last 40 of the World Matchplay twice and the last eight of the world pairs with longtime friend Dennis Smith. Late in 1997 Cook disappeared again.

A decade later in 2007 Paul reappeared in the qualifying stages of the Las Vegas Classic and a handful of other events. He managed to qualify for the UK Open in 2009, Cookie was defeated by Mark Lawrence who reached the Qtr finals. For the next few years, only a few Open events are recorded with mixed results.

Paul Cook (Right)

Randomly again in 2015 up pops Paul again with a win in the Plymouth Open.  Attempts at a higher level appear to fail after a few attempts at BDO qualifications. Not to be written off Paul entered Q School in 2017. After taking a while to settle he embarked on a thrilling run on the final day. He finally bowed out in the last 16 after being defeated by Paul Nicholson who gained his tour card by winning his next game.

I certainly hope we have not seen or heard the last of Cookie, perhaps the most unsung major champion of them all. He is a truly lovely man and an incredibly talented player.  If you’re lucky enough to bump into him ask him to tell you the tale of what happened when they came looking to reclaim his News of the World Trophy.

Look out for sightings at Opens in the South West or just about any other event, you never know where he will pop up next!


Unsung Heroes Appeared in Darts World Magazine from 2019

Words: JR Lott

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 Fullwell (left) collects another Challenge Tour title. (Pic: PDC) 

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. 

The UK Open saw Nick again reach a major event.

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.