Little by Littler

By Paul Woodage 24/11/2021

It’s a popular belief that, at a very tender age, Mozart simply looked at a piano and could naturally play it to perfection. For young protégé Luke Littler, the same can be said about a dartboard.

 

How do I know this you ask? Well, I watched in absolute amazement as Luke’s father, Anthony showed me a video of his son at just 18-month’s old throwing magnetic darts at a board for the first time in his life. 

 

The action was flawless. It was instantly obvious to anyone watching that this was a child with a gift that required nurturing. Now at 14-years old, the name of Luke Littler is widely recognised as one of the brightest young stars in the darting firmament.

 

Explaining the start of his fascinating journey, Luke said: “My Dad had a board up in the kitchen and I just used to watch him play. 

 

“One day my parents bought me a magnetic board and set of darts from a pound shop…...when I was 5 or 6, they gave me a proper one and I was never off it.”

 

Luke’s father Anthony was quick to acknowledge he recognised the unique talent from day one, saying: “As soon as he threw his first dart I knew he had something. The stance and everything was there - I just said wow.”

 

The boy nicknamed ‘The Nuke’ added: “I was around six when I got my first 180. My first 9-dart finish came two years ago after we got back from the Isle of Man - so I would have been 13-years old.

 

On his first television darting memory, Luke said: “It would have to be Gary [Anderson] winning back-to-back World titles in 2015 and 2016. That was around the time I joined the St Anne’s Darting Academy in St Helens.

 

“It was my brother Leon’s birthday and Dad had gone down to the A180 Darts shop in St Helens where owner Karl Holden mentioned it to him. We both began to go along regularly and were unbeaten for the first ten weeks.

 

And ever since then, Luke has been making giant strides in the JDC, winning four events already in 2021 and sitting at the top of the Advanced Tour rankings.

 

It’s another two years before he is eligible for Q-School where he will look to gain a tour card on the full PDC circuit. But in the meantime, the youngster from Warrington is gaining valuable competitive experience.

 

Speaking on the future, Luke said: “My goal is to become a professional darts player. I’m able to put the hours in and prepared to do what it takes. 

 

“Of course winning the World Championships would be the ultimate dream but I would love to lift the World Cup of Darts for England. 

 

“Until then, the plan for the next couple of years is to compete in the England Grand Prix’s and hopefully the PDC Development Tour from 16-years old. The JDC tour is still open to me until I’m 18 and I really enjoy performing on that too.

 

“If my Dad didn’t get hear about St Anne’s academy then I’d probably still be playing in the house. So I’m incredibly grateful for that opportunity, what they have done for my game and the doors it’s opened such as Lancashire Youth.

 

Luke has already won the England Youth Grand Prix on two occasions. He claimed the title in 2019, and due to the 2020 event being cancelled, successfully defended it earlier this year.

 

Already in 2021, Luke has won multiple JDC tour events and some PDC big boys are already astutely aware of his talent and rapid rise.

 

He said: “I beat Joe Cullen at an exhibition with a 15 dart leg two years ago. 

 

“But I’ve had wins against Chizzy [Dave Chisnall], Damon Heta and Ross Smith. 

 

Luke enjoys other sports too - a keen Manchester United fan and a follower of the famous Warrington Wolves Rugby League team but darts is comfortably top of the list.

 

On his favourite players, he adds: “I’ve followed Nathan Aspinall for many years. Michael Smith who is local and Dimitri [Van den Bergh] too.

 

“I like Aspinall because he has come from nowhere in the past two years. But if I could copy the achievements of one player right now it would be Michael Smith. He has reached a lot of finals and even though he isn’t winning many, always seems to go far in tournaments.

 

Well, don’t be surprised to see the name Luke Littler popping up on your television screens before too long. Once he gains his PDC tour card, expect him to do plenty of damage on the circuit. 

 

Sid Waddell would have made much of the idea of a darting symphony, perhaps Luke will write it?

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In the short period since this article was written and published Luke won the Irish Open (WDF) and with it a Lakeside Golden ticket. For a 14-year-old to have won his place to compete on one of the biggest all stages is almost beyond belief but in January 2022 we will see the TV stage debut of 'The Nuke' we are sure millions of eyes will be keenly following his progress.

-----ENDS------
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Darts World Magazine (Issue 576)
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