From Holes in the Wall to PDC Nine-Darters

Aged 16, James Beeton made waves by hitting a nine-darter on the PDC’s Development Tour but darts didn’t always come so easy for the Chester teen, as the holes in his parents’ walls attest to.

“I was terrible to start with…terrible”, Beeton, now 19, told Fen Regis Trophies. “It took me six months [to get better].

“The board went up and all the pictures came down in the conservatory. I thought I’d try it a bit and there were holes everywhere in the wall…like most people do when they first start playing!”

Originally, darts was never on the cards. Football was Beeton’s first and only love until his parents gifted him a dartboard as a Christmas stocking filler. He had never really watched the sport, and his family weren’t involved in darts whatsoever – yet the day came when Beeton turned his back on his dreams of playing for his beloved Chester FC in favour of the arrows.

“I’m not from a darting background,” he admitted. “I just played against a couple of mates from school, just as a bit of fun…eventually something happened with football.

“I didn’t play in a big game that I should have done, and I just thought ‘stuff it’ gave darts a go.

“That was probably when I started to take darts more seriously and thought that if it didn’t go well I could always go back to the football.”

James Beeton and Glen Durrant
Three-time BDO World Champion Glen Durrant would pay James Beeton to mark his games.

Move to Darts

Having practised upwards of eight hours a day, Beeton hit his first 180 aged 11 and proudly called his parents so they could marvel at his achievement. They didn’t believe him at the time, but soon the young Beeton’s talent couldn’t be denied, and it was a connection through the football club where his mum worked that set him on his darting journey.

“Gradually, [my darts] went from the outer board to hitting the inner rings of the 12s and 18s,” said Beeton. “One night, I hit a 180 and shouted my mum and dad – who didn’t believe me – and it all took off from there.

“My mum worked behind the bar at Chester on matchdays. The bar manager was Andy Cummins, who plays Super League darts.

“When I first started, he said to bring me along and I would go to Super League on a Sunday night. I didn’t get a game, but I used to mark all the games, so that’s where my first bit of scoring came from.”

It wouldn’t be too much longer until he was playing county darts for Cheshire, rubbing shoulders with some of the best players in the country. Beeton began competing on the BDO circuit and though he found the going tough at first, he was able to watch and learn from a bona fide legend in three-time world champion Glen Durrant.

“It’s a strange one with Glen,” Beeton recalled. “When I first started playing in the BDO my results weren’t very good at all.

“I was always out of tournaments early and by chance I marked one of his (Durrant’s) games.

“Because he won, he kept me marking his games and paid me £5 for every game I marked. The record he got to was 49 games unbeaten across two years.

“All of a sudden, I started playing better and then I was in the same exhibitions as him.”

Making Waves

Watching and practising with a world champion will undoubtedly help to improve your game and that was the case for Beeton, who began to make a name for himself in the world of darts.

At the age of 16, the ‘Comeback Kid’ announced himself by hitting a nine-darter on the PDC’s Development Tour in 2019, becoming the youngest player to do so in a PDC event, which Beeton described as “crazy” and his biggest achievement to date. It was just two years before that he hit his first ever perfect leg, much to the bemusement of his fellow Cheshire thrower Simon Preston.

“The first nine-darter I hit was in Wigan. I was playing against Simon Preston and we were practising in the backroom.

“I said to him that I’ve played so well today but I don’t think I’ve hit any 180s. Then I hit, 180, 180 and he said ‘if you take it out now then I’ll give up’…then I took 141 out! I was 14 or 15 when I did that.”

Thirteen youth titles came Beeton’s way in 2019, as well as a few notable runs in senior PDC events, and that earned him the backing of manufacturer Target Darts. The sponsorship allows Beeton to focus on playing darts and pushing his game to the next level, with his sights set on a World Championship debut and earning a PDC tour card.

“Having sponsorship from Target Darts is brilliant. I went down there with one of my close pals, Tony Martin.

“I went there, and I didn’t know what to expect…I was blown away, to be honest. The way they looked after us was fantastic. At Target, they treat every player the same.”

He added: “I know I can do it on the stage. I’ve been playing county darts since I was 13 or 14 years of age.

“The hard work is on the floor and the stage is the easy bit for me. There are no nerves for me on the stage because I’ve done it that many times.”

Having been competing on the PDC’s secondary circuit, the Challenge Tour (for players without a tour card) alongside the youth events, Beeton has been gaining plenty of experience.

Still just 19 years of age, time is firmly on his side and while he admits that he was far from a natural at first, hard work and dedication may well just see the young man sharing the oche with the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright sooner rather than later.

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