The Secret of St Helen’s Success

Red Dragon Darts

Behind all the television razzmatazz, the glitz, glamour and superstar’s of the game stand the unsung heroes.

Perhaps not the faces you would see on the red carpet, however, they play a pivotal supporting role and are equally essential to putting darts on the map.Karl Holden

….people like Karl Holden of the St Helens Darts Shop.

For decades, together with his wife Dawn, Karl has dedicated his life to the sport he loves. Based in St Helens, Merseyside but casting his net far wider, they have comprehensively serviced the needs of darting enthusiasts.

It was a generational and proverbial passing of the baton which first ignited Karl’s interest.

He explains: “My Dad, David Holden was the main reason I became involved in darts. He was a top county player and founder member of the Lancashire & St Helens Super League team way back in 1974.

“As a young lad, Eric Bristow was my inspiration. Our neighbours would always know when Eric was on TV – we would all shout and scream during his matches! My Dad rarely gets excited watching darts but when the Crafty Cockney was on fire, he said there was no better sight. In my father’s words, Bristow had absolutely everything.”

“I also enjoyed playing thousands of legs against my brother Mark. He was the first winner of the ‘Big Youth Tournament’ ran in 1982 by our dad, Dave.” 

Quick to admit, Karl agrees his knowledge of darts far outweighs his ability on the oche.

“He added: “No. I’m not a very good player. I was pretty decent as a young lad but had ten years off and came back even worse! But I still win the odd game for my local team, Woodlands B and get a big buzz from that.”

In 2005, together with Dawn, they opened their now-famous darts shop, originally named A180. In a sense, and at the time, it was also a way of preventing further traffic jams and chaos on the street they lived.

Karl said: “Prior to the shop, everything was ordered online and delivered to my house. But with all the customers constantly driving over to pick up their purchases, it was impossible for the neighbors to park. That was when we decided we needed an actual business premise.

“Thankfully, it’s gone from strength to strength and now bigger and better than ever. Today, we have seven practice boards, a disabled access area and plenty of variety and quality goods at competitive prices.

“In my opinion, when it comes to all things darts, it’s far better to go to a shop. There you can physically feel, see and even test the products you’re looking to purchase.

“At the St Helens Darts Shop, we offer customers the opportunity to try the darts out, so they can feel what is right for them (within reason of course). That’s the benefit from us – we give the buyer the service they need to purchase the right product to suit their specific needs.

“And that’s the main reason dart players come to us from all over the UK, even Europe. They know they’re getting the very best advice and going home with exactly what they want.

Such is the enthusiasm and knowledge within the team that the store could almost double as a living museum

“As well as being a shop, it’s decorated with thousands of pictures of well known players who have visited us. We even have interesting pieces of darting memorabilia, including the history of the Isle of Man Open as well as the actual stage which was used for the tournament. Plus plenty of other fascinating items to look at.

Reflecting back on the pandemic, Karl said: “Yes it was touch and go. It nearly finished us off but thankfully we saw it through. We’ve just put a huge investment into the shop which is based at Hersefinch, St Helens WA11 9NB. 

“Now darts is back being played in pubs, all our customers are returning. Dawn has loved catching up with all the familiar faces and having a good chat. 

It’s absolutely wonderful to see them again. 


Originally published in Darts World Magazine (Issue 577) – Unsung Heroes

Images: Darts World Magazine

Grab the current print issue 585 here  or a 50th Anniversary Darts World bundle 581 here 

The Darts World 50 limited edition dart set is available to order (Here) in your choice of pack


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