WHEN Rachel Blackmore rode Minella Times first past the post to become the first female jockey to win the Grand National on Saturday, it felt like deja vu for darts.
All the commentary, reaction and adulation was a complete carbon copy of Fallon Sherrock’s Alexandra Palace success story.
Nothing has rocked darts more in the modern era than Sherrock’s groundbreaking glory at the Ally Pally.
Who could have predicted on December 13, 2019 that Sherrock would be making headlines in the New York Post, tweeted to by Billie Jean King and Sarah Jessica Parker and would play darts with media motormouth Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain?
For the entire duration of the World Championships, half of all darts stories in the national newspapers were on Fallon. Quite incredible.
Sky Sports had record TV audiences and for online stories for the darts when Fallon took on Mensur Suljovic and Chris Dobey at the Ally Pally.
This was the most seismic trailblazing explosion in the sport in 40 years.
Frankly, it’s damn refreshing. New names, new heroes, new talking points.
The biggest winner of all? The sport of darts.
TV audiences have once again rocketed, a brand new image, huge growing audience of female fans and the sport breaking into new territory in the mainstream media.
Since then, of course, Lisa Ashton (pictured below) has won a PDC tour card and beaten Aaron Beeney in the UK Open with a record average and beaten male ex-World Champions in the Super Series.
But now the women’s game needs more. It needs a tour and regular competition urgently.
Which is why Oche is partnering World Women’s Darts to support a proper structure to the sport and encourage a new generation of female players.
Sky Sports pundit and top player Laura Turner (pictured below) has created WWD and is doing a wonderful job to keep the awareness of the women’s game at the top of the agenda.
The sport now has a powerful female voice right across the spectrum. We now have outstanding TV presenters Jacqui Oatley, Laura Woods, Emma Paton, Mikki Austin and Turner while Polly James has emerged as the queen of social media reporting.
Oche is also proud to have Oatley, Turner and James as regular columnists.
However, it is now vital for the players to take centre stage. A proper tour and proper prize money to reflect the huge audience generated.
No more tokenism or one-off bursts of publicity, now women need and deserve the respect of a genuine structured sport.
Sherrock’s fairytale was a massive event, she “smashed the glass ceiling”.
Like Blackmore on Minella Times, women’s darts has a lot more hurdles and jumps to achieve.
But it’s now time to give female darts stars a chance to shine.
Images by Taylor Lanning.