Fallon Sherrock: Queen of the Palace takes centre stage for Premier League Darts Night Two

Thursday 13th February 2020 16:30 GMT

"It's incredible, it's insane, I didn't think I would be the person doing this," she tells Sky Sports, not for the first time over the last few months.

The interview requests have been many and have come from all corners of the globe as Sherrock prepares to become the first woman to play in the Premier League on Thursday night

'The Queen of the Palace' will enter Night Two as the second of nine 'Challengers' for this year's competition and the accreditation requests to the PDC have resulted in an oversubscribed media room with L'Equipe, Bloomberg and more wanting another piece of the action.

"Since the worlds my normal life has just exploded - I am so busy, so many opportunities have come my way and I am a well known face," she adds, now counting Billie Jean King among the names to congratulate her, not once, but twice.

"I have tried not to be overwhelmed and not take everything in. I haven't looked at the massive wider impacts, I am focusing on darts and trying to put the rest of it to the back of my mind."

"This week's Premier League action is the first of several opportunities that have come Sherrock's way since she blazed her way to a pair of huge landmark victories at the World Darts Championship, beating Ted Evetts to become the first woman to beat a man at the tournament.

For good measure she backed it up by beating then-world No 11 Mensur Suljovic before the journey came to its end with a defeat to Chris Dobey in the third round.

If you think the 25-year-old single mother has been resting on her laurels, you'd be much mistaken - she's been rather busy as exhibition requests have flooded in. She's partnered former Italy international footballer Luca Toni, taken on 16-time world champion Phil Taylor and even faced Sky Sports' very-own Wayne Mardle.

There's been competitive action too. After opting against the BDO Women's World Championship with doubts over an already-shrunken prize fund, she headed to Q-School in an attempt to earn her place on the PDC Tour.

Sherrock's feats at Alexandra Palace inspired plenty, with a record 16 women in total joining her to chase the Tour cards on offer. It wasn't to be for Sherrock but four-time women's world champion Lisa Ashton was successful and made her Pro Tour debut at the weekend - Sherrock insists that is just another step on the ladder.

"I have proved we can do it. We can compete on a level playing field, we just need more opportunities and the fact that Lisa has done it has proved it a bit more.

"Playing against the men is a good start. It's a good platform to start off with anyway because it proves that darts is a sport for both, a lot of people think of it as a man's sport."

For a woman who has overcome plenty in her life, the disappointment of missing out on a two-year Tour card did not last long.

Two weeks ago, away from the TV cameras and with a huge target on her back, she battled her way through a field of more than 200 players to win a UK Open qualifier that will see her part of the field in Minehead next month.

The World Series invitations were the first to drop, and Sherrock will be part of the fields later this year in New York, Copenhagen, Germany, New Zealand and a double header in Germany. But it's closer to her Milton Keynes home that the world's media will next see her in action as she takes up her Challenger spot on Thursday night.

Whether the 'Queen of the Palace' nickname sticks remains to be seen, the 'Sherrock of Nottingham' seems to have taken on a life of itself over the last week as the city prepares to welcome the Premier League Darts roadshow.

Night Two will see Sherrock back to make, and chase, another slice of history when she faces three-time BDO world champion Glen Durran, last week labelled the best finisher in the game by Mardle, and one win into his debut Premier League following a stellar first year on the PDC circuit.

It may have gone unnoticed but none of the previous 10 invited players have picked up a win. Faced with another history-making moment Sherrock is not getting too carried away and has a plan.

"I would never go into a game expecting to lose but I will play my normal game, and I expect Glen to play his.

"If people want to put the pressure on me that fine but I don't put pressure on myself - that is where pressure comes from.

"I won't think about who I'm playing or how big the venue is. I am just excited to get up there."

Sherrock's opportunities are plentiful but there are wider questions about the women's game and how it grows. Commentator Rod Studd has labelled female darts as the next growth area for the sport, but as yet there remains nothing concrete from the PDC in terms of commitment to a women's tour, or tournament beyond the World Championship qualifiers.

To paraphrase PDC chairman Barry Hearn's mantra, 'it doesn't matter who you are if you are good enough and earn your place you can play,' and there's plenty of merit to it, Sherrock's two wins at Ally Pally and Ashton's Q-School feats underline that.

But it is something of a contradiction. In creating the two women's qualifiers for the World Championship, approving women's places at the Grand Slam of Darts and now inviting Sherrock to the Premier League and World Series, opportunity has been created where previously there was none.

Sherrock is under no illusions about seizing the chances that come her way, but what next for the women's game?

"The more the women beat the men hopefully that will bring up more opportunities for us and then the possibilities are endless as to what can happen.

"If [the opportunity of a women's tour] came, I wouldn't turn it down or anything like that. It would be great, but I don't want to sit there and get too excited or too far ahead on anything that people say.

"We're not 100 per cent sure what's going to happen so I'm not going to jump into anything and start thinking what might happen. I'm just taking it one step at a time and will just grab any opportunities that I can at the moment.

"I don't look at it as a man's sport because the women play as well.

"It's an open sport. It's a good starting point [women playing against the men] which we've had the opportunity to do and show that we can beat them."

Sherrock can, and has. On Thursday night the world will be watching to see if she can do it again.

Coverage of the Premier League continues on Thursday, February 13 when Sherrock makes her debut in the competition as a 'Challenger' in Nottingham at 7pm on Sky Sports Action and Main Event. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts.

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