The Scottish Mum and Online Darts

Scottish mum Nicky Goodbrand has been enjoying success playing online darts and has hopes of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lisa Ashton and Fallon Sherrock.

Nicky is the captain of her local pub team in Fraserburgh, Scotland, and is the mother to four sons who have followed in her darting footsteps. It is a tradition that runs in the family, with Nicky following her mother into darts.

Having been an avid viewer of the sport on television, Nicky eventually picked up the tungsten herself. However, in 2020 as the Covid pandemic saw the closure of pubs, Nicky was left without a means of playing competitive darts – that was until she heard about Graded Online Darts League (GDL).

“It was something that I had seen on Twitter,” Nicky told Fen Regis Trophies. “I saw they were starting an online league, and it was called the GDL.

“I couldn’t get to the pub to play darts, the only friend I had that was allowed into my bubble we carried on practising together…I couldn’t have played by myself as I would have been bored.”

What is the GDL?

The GDL is an online platform for players to face off against other players from anywhere in the world. Born during the pandemic, the GDL allows players to join leagues and tournaments without having to leave their homes.

Matches are played out via a live stream, with players pointing their cameras directly at the dartboard so that the other player can see the other’s darts and that there is no foul play. The GDL has 26 divisions, meaning that players are placed into a division alongside players of a similar standard – therefore, in theory, anyone who joins will be competitive and can work their way up the divisions.

It is a system that Nicky has not only become comfortable with but thriving – so much so that she is ranked 34th in the silver grade of the 2023 GDL World Championships at the time of writing. Though Nicky admits that it took her a while to adjust to playing online darts, rather than in-person, she has managed to find her footing playing the modern way.

“I think it is a mindset thing,” said Nicky. “In a pub where you have got a dartboard and your opponent behind you when they take their turn, you know that is your time to throw.

“When you play slow players, you do need to adjust…I still struggle, wishing they would speed up!”

The setup that Nicky uses to compete in GDL online events.


Having enjoyed some level of success playing in the GDL, and to a good standard, Nicky has her eyes on a bigger prize and competing on either the WDF or PDC tours. Though that won’t happen until her youngest son, aged nine, is older, Nicky backs herself when the time does come, but admits she will need help along the way.

“We could maybe start having him (her son) come to events to watch in Scotland, or something that came up in England, in five years’ time.

“I would hope to get a sponsor that could help me out financially, as travelling and hotels aren’t cheap…the way forward would be doing that.

“I would need somebody to help start me up as I don’t know the way to do it. Being in Scotland, there are not a lot [of events], so that’s where it makes me wonder ‘is it worth it?’

“I want to do it, but I don’t know how.”

Speaking on the prospect of entering a PDC or WDF-sanctioned event, Nicky said: “I would enter if something came up and I could do it.

“I would give my best and I would just keep practising and try to improve.”

Playing Through Pain

As well as the financial implications of competing regularly on tour, Nicky also regularly finds herself playing through pain as she has fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). It is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body for which there is no cure.

Symptoms of FMS include increased sensitivity to pain, muscle stiffness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, IBS, and feelings of worry/low mood. Women are most likely to develop FMS, though it can affect anyone and it is estimated that nearly one in 20 people may have FMS, according to the NHS.

“With fibromyalgia,” said Nicky. “How do you stop it from making an appearance?

“I would need to be 100% and I will never be. I have this nagging disability that I never hear anyone talk about, you don’t get that perspective.”

Online darts and, specifically, the GDL have provided Nicky with a platform to play and reach a level where she believes that she could, one day, mix it with the best in the world. You can register as a player with the GDL here, where you can enter both online and in-person competitions.

By Aaron Gratton

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