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  • Writer's pictureKurtis Bevan

Suffolk Darts - The New Hotspot to Produce Future World Champions?

Updated: Jun 19

By Kurt Bevan

Darting hotspots aren't a new thing, in the past we've seen plenty of big-name players come out of areas such as Yorkshire or St Helens, but could the county referred to as "sleepy Suffolk" be the next place to produce a string of future world-class darts players?

Suffolk's Best Darts Players

Historically, Suffolk and its surrounding counties have been the place where many of many great darting talents have learned their craft. Keith Deller, from Ipswich, won the 1983 BDO World Darts championships, defeating Eric Bristow with his famous 138 checkout. Before this, he played and won many local tournaments around the county, where he still resides today. 

Shaun Greatbatch, the man who hit the first ever live televised nine-darter during his winning run to the 2002 Dutch Open and was also a BDO World Championship semi-finalist, resided in Lakenheath with his mother Sandra, who herself was an excellent darts player representing Wales internationally for many years.

Another ladies international player from Suffolk is current Suffolk Ladies captain, and England International, Jo Locke. Locke has represented England both in 2023 and 2024. In 2023 Jo won the UKDA Singles as well as the pairs Pairs in 2023 with partner Nadine Leathers. Jo has also previously been a finalist in the PDC Women's Series. 

Another World Champion from more recent years who has resided in Suffolk for several years and has competed in Suffolk's super league is 'Snakebite' Peter Wright. Peter lives in Mendham on the Suffolk and Norfolk border and also paired in the past with Mervyn King, also from Suffolk. Both have had their fair share of success, Wright being a two-time PDC World Champion and multiple-time major winner and Mervyn King seeing much success in the BDO in the early 2000s, winning the World Masters and twice finishing runner-up in the Lakeside World Championships.

Andrew Gilding is the most recent player from Suffolk to win a major title, capturing the UK Open title in 2023, beating Michael van Gerwen in the deciding leg. The achievement was being watched by his Suffolk County teammates whilst on their bus journey home from a county weekend.

Other notable players that have represented or are from Suffolk include Stephen Burton*, Ryan Meikle*, Brett Claydon*, and Kevin Burrows.

*indicates current PDC tour card holder at the time of writing

Suffolk's Social Media Boom

It's not just players that the Suffolk darts scene is producing however, Suffolk has become the hub of darts content creation with multiple people from the area having grown a following by making content on the sport.

The most notable name is Jack Langston aka The Darts Referee who is the most subscribed Darts YouTube channel, if you exclude corporation-owned channels such as SkySports Darts and PDC's channel. Jack's friend, Ashley Coleman who features regularly on Jack's channel has also recently seen success appearing on the MODUS Super Series as well as qualifying for the 2024 UK Open. Both appeared together as part of the MODUS Content Creator event and Ash has also appeared in two weeks of regular action taking on the likes of Devon Petersen and Fallon Sherrock.

Jack aka The Darts Referee (left) and Ashley Coleman both recently were involved in the Modus Super Series Creator Event

Away from YouTube, one of the biggest darts content creators on TikTok is Ollie Howard aka TBD Darts, who also competes in Suffolk's Super League and is a great player in his own right. At the time of writing, Ollie's TikTok is followed by just shy of 35,000 people.

Other content creators in the area include Marc from the YouTube channel LoveDarts, who also works as a content producer for Netherlands-based darts shop Dartshopper. Darts Magazine DartsPlanet TV is Suffolk based and finally, I, Kurt aka MatadorDarts although I'm definitely the smallest creator of the bunch.

With so much content coming from Suffolk, it's very likely that someone's introduction to darts locally could be through one of these channels!

The Darts Academies Developing Future Stars

The presence of darts academies across the UK has grown exponentially in the past few years, with two major academies running in Suffolk. The longest-standing academy is Sudbury Youth Darts Academy and more recently founded was the Stowmarket Youth Darts Development School (SYDDS) both academies have been granted Target Elite 1 status, meaning players now have a true pathway and support from some of the biggest names in darts. 

Target Elite 1 Head of Development Lorraine Winstanley (left) with Sudbury Youth Darts Academy founder Paul Warner

The growth of the game for young players in the area is clear to see as well, with more youth tournaments, more players from Suffolk competing in national youth events such as the JDC tour and Suffolk's youth county team also won their division in the 2023/24 season.

Multiple players in Suffolk have also received sponsorship and support from leading darts brands too, where they have impressed to earn the chance to be on the best pathway to the professional game. 

Harvey Stringer, sponsored by Mission Darts who has really seen huge improvements to his game the last year and has been competing and reaching the latter stages of competitions locally.

Lewis and Alfie Cook both have both been impressing at county youth level. Lewis has has had 90+ average games at county youth and Alfie has also won the Torremolinos Darts Festival youth event, beating his brother in the final. Both Lewis and Alfie were selected to play in the North vs South game which takes the best players from the UKDA youth season and pits them against each other for the North vs South bragging rights. Two other players playing well for Suffolk boys county team that have been selected are Arthur Allston, who himself is part of the Target pathway and Nathan Gill, who has also had good runs in local ADC vault events.

Another player who represented Suffolk in the North vs. South game was Ruby Grey. Ruby in June 2024 won the England Open Girls event beating Scotland's Sophie McKinlay in the final. Following this she also has stepped up into the Suffolk Ladies 'A' team for the final game of the season, winning on debut.

Finally, Lennon Wharf has also shown great promise at just ten years old became the youngest player to be added to the Target Elite 1 pathway and rather ironically found himself on the World Seniors stage being introduced to the crowd as the latest edition to Target's youth player pathway.

Darts in Suffolk currently

It's not just the youth that are doing well for the county however. Suffolk's senior county team has just become champions of the UKDA Division 1, meaning they will be playing in the Championship next season, just one division away from the top tier. This comes after just missing out in the 2022/2023 season.

The standard of darts across the county is improving, with more players regularly hitting high averages on a Tuesday night in super league and this is no doubt down to the opportunities that players have to play darts in Suffolk. There seems to be a tournament every week at the moment, with both Evolution Darts and East Point Darts running tournaments in the county along with other smaller tournaments. There are also multiple leagues to play in on all different nights of the week, with many playing two, three or even four nights a week plus tournaments or county on the weekend. It's no surprise that the standard of competition is rising rapidly.

There are plenty more names that haven't been mentioned to look out for, so be sure to keep an eye out on results by joining the Suffolk Darts Facebook group. Who knows, maybe in a few years Suffolk will have a new World Darts Champion.

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