Fallon Sherrock (Picture: Mikal Schlosser/PDC)
Fallon Sherrock (Picture: Mikal Schlosser/PDC)

Fallon Sherrock 'deserves' a World Championship qualification spot and it hasn't cost anyone, writes Paul Nicholson

Paul Nicholson has firmly backed the PDC's decision to award Fallon Sherrock a place at this year's World Championship in his latest Sporting Life Darts column.

The Queen of the Palace will return to the Ally Pally in December after the PDC announced this week that the Women's World Matchplay is now part of the qualification criteria, meaning Sherrock's success back in July earned her a spot in the 96-player field.

This came as a huge boost for the Milton Keynes ace having previously missed out due to finishing third behind Lisa Ashton and Beau Greaves on the PDC Women's Series Order of Merit, but the retrospective nature of this decision has caused uproar among some darts fans, who feel she receives 'preferential treatment'.

Paul Nicholson has hit back at those critics in his latest column...

I’m very pleased Fallon Sherrock is in the World Championship – not just for what she’s done in her career but also her achievements in 2022.

A lot of people are focusing on what she didn’t do this year such as not winning many matches in the World Series, not getting out of her Grand Slam of Darts group and finishing third in the Women’s Series Order of Merit, which everyone previously thought had cost her a place at Ally Pally.

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But, she attended many Women’s Series events before Beau Greaves made her superhuman impact and probably would have ended up second in the Order of Merit behind Lisa Ashton if she’d been able to compete in the events she missed in August that clashed with the New Zealand Darts Masters.

That scheduling caused a real headache and ultimately it cost her valuable points in the race to finish in the top two.

She obviously also won the inaugural Women’s World Matchplay which is the PDC’s only female major televised tournament at the moment and I don’t think any fans or players will begrudge that title being rewarded with a spot at the World Championship in future years.

However, this week’s very late decision to give Sherrock a spot at Ally Pally based on her success back in July has caused quite a stir to say the least due to the retrospective nature of her qualification. And to be fair to the critics of this decision, that element doesn’t look great.

People are assuming it was just to get Fallon in the tournament – but imagine if she'd pipped Beau Greaves to second spot in the Women’s Series. In that scenario I’m pretty sure the PDC would have made the same decision about the Women’s World Matchplay and then give the Women’s Series an extra spot to get Beau into Ally Pally.

Would there have been the same level – or indeed any - anger towards Beau in that scenario? No. Everyone would have applauded.

The PDC want to evolve their fingerprint on the women’s game and having all three of these wonderful talents in a 96-player field is a positive way of doing that.

The people who seem to be highly critical of this decision seem to be the ones who were rooting for Fallon to be knocked off her perch in the women’s game by the likes of Beau Greaves and Lisa Ashton.

It does seem like there is now a growing division between the fans – and players - when it comes to the women’s game. There’s Team Lisa, Team Fallon and Team Beau – but while it can create excitement ahead of their matches, it can all be rather petty and unnecessary.

RECORD BREAKING AVERAGE! 🔥 Greaves v Sherrock | 2022 Women's Series 19 Final

Instead we should be toasting their achievements and looking forward to what it can do for the women’s game in years to come.

I’d love to see two of them playing each other at the World Championship and how the crowd react during the match – but due to the seeding and structure of the draw, the earliest chance for that to happen would be in the third round or beyond.

Costing a spot?

Knowing dart players as I do, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are kicking up a fuss and claiming they’ve been robbed of a spot from the forthcoming PDPA qualifying event.

But if you look back at the PDPA event over the past 10 years, sometimes there’s only one qualifier. It’s never set in stone how many qualifiers will come from it.

There's still definitely two available – and almost certainly three if the already-qualified Josh Rock can win the World Youth Championship this Sunday. If Fallon hadn’t been given the spot for winning the Women’s World Matchplay then the PDPA qualifying event would have four up for grabs! And you can easily make a case for that being too many.

When I was a player I never complained about the amount of spots available in the last qualifying event. If you’re not good enough to finish inside the 32 qualifying spots that are outside of the world’s top 32 then you don’t really deserve to be there.

This PDPA qualifier is basically a last-chance saloon, bonus opportunity to get to Ally Pally. Nobody should depend on it.

Of all the players who have ever come through, I can only think of one who has gone on a great run at the World Championship and that’s Jamie Lewis when he reached the semi-finals.

It’s not disrespectful to say those players probably won’t do anything of any note at Ally Pally or grab the world’s attention like Fallon Sherrock will.

Granted, that’s got nothing to do with her qualification but it’s best for the tournament and the game as a whole to have all the pieces of the puzzle there. You need the headline makers, players who create column inches and the ones that the broadcasters love talking about. Fallon does all of those things because of what she’s achieved and how millions of fans want to see her – regardless of what some vocal critics on social media might make you think.

A few years ago I wasn’t happy when the PDC retrospectively included Kryzstof Ratajski, Jeff Smith and Devon Peterson in the World Championship field for achievements that weren’t originally in the qualification criteria.

I went to PDPA chairman Peter Manley about this and he said “the PDC are a promotional company, they can do as they see fit.” You can’t really argue with that and from a promotional perspective, Fallon Sherrock being in the tournament is much better than if she isn’t.

Get behind her!

Fallon is not in control of this. She’s not asked for the so-called ‘preferential treatment’ such as the World Series invites, the Premier League contender spot a few years ago and all the TV coverage.

She earned all that through playing darts and winning some incredible matches on TV that no other woman has yet to achieve.

Beau doesn’t have to put up with the negative scrutiny and backlash. Lisa doesn’t have to put up with it. Just Fallon. She takes it all on her shoulders and is coping remarkably well in the circumstances.

I’d give her a spot just for that! She hasn’t done anything wrong. She just wants to play darts and provide for her little boy. Everyone should give her a break.

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