EXCLUSIVE: Darts' Fallon Sherrock on being a mum, getting recognised at the shops and becoming Billie Jean King's new BFF
The last few months have been something of a whirlwind for Fallon Sherrock.
She was the Queen of Darts who stole everyone's heart on the oche at Ally Pally when she made history by becoming the first female player to beat a man in a World Championship match.
It led to a sudden bubble of celebrity that both surprised and embarrassed the modest 25 year-old from Milton Keynes, as she explained this week in an exclusive interview with NewsChain.
"I get recognised a bit more when I go to my local shops," she says. "They normally say, 'are you that girl from the TV, are you Fallon?'
"It's kind of sinking in a bit more now. At first I was a bit shocked with it all, overwhelmed, I was like, 'oh my God', but it's becoming a bit more real now."
It's as well that Sherrock is getting used to the attention as it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
It's one thing being recognised at the local shops, but her achievements have been drawing the attention of fans on an altogether different level - none more so than tennis legend Billie Jean King.
King congratulated Sherrock at every stage of the World Darts Championship and also said 'well done' when she qualified for the UK Open recently. Sherrock says that she'd love to challenge King to a darts match, though she's not the only famous person she'd like to play.
"I'd love to play Billie Jean King (and Katy Perry) as I know she's been tweeting me quite a bit so I'd love to challenge her to a game of darts. But then she'll try and challenge me to tennis and I don't think I could do that!"
She says the pair have started making plans to meet up when she plays at Madison Square Gardens in New York this summer, part of the PDC World Series of Darts events.
"We have actually spoken about it and I think she is going to meet up with me when I go over to America in June, so fingers crossed. It is mental, I can't believe it! Honestly I'm so excited.
"She's got my email and my number, we've sent emails so it's progressing and I'm just waiting to see if anything comes back from that. She's definitely the most famous person in my phone!
"It'll be my first time in New York, I've never been to America. The fact that I can go over there and do something I love, it's just amazing, I'm still in disbelief."
She's come a long way since she first picked up a dart as a teenager.
"I started playing properly at 17, after trying it at 16 but it didn't really go that well," she said.
"I've always been brought up with darts. My mum, dad and sister always played, like county and youth darts, so I've always been brought up around it. I started off in the youth system and progressed into the BDO circuit after county so I just joined in with my mum and dad really.
"I didn't realise I could make money from it. I started in the youth and then I got picked for England Youth and when I got picked for that I knew I was good. I tried to progress a little more so I started on the BDO circuit and then when I started picking up money I was like 'wow'!"
Darts acts as a strong bond between Sherrock and her twin sister, Felicia. She insists that there is no sibling rivalry between them but instead they give each other an honesty and feedback that only family can give.
"My sister is so supportive of me, she's my twin sister so we're quite close anyway. I support her darts, we work together on that. We do challenge each other, we push each other as well. She makes me better and I make her better. It works as swings and roundabouts really.
"She really wants to go to more competitions now, she does play county and she wants to come along with me to some of the local competitions that I do and try and progress to get to where I am now."
Sherrock also has tremendous support from her friends on the darts circuit.
"I'm close to Corrine Hammond, Lorraine Winstanley and Anastasia Dobromyslova they're my real group. So anything I have a problem with or need advice I usually go to them."
So, do they ever find time for a social game of darts?
"We sometimes have little practices together, we don't play darts outside of darts as we play so often when we do go out we just want to have a chilled night."
And do they ever get challenged to a game when they're out?
"Yeah, all the time now, especially people in my local league, as soon as they see me they're like 'come to the local Tuesday league' or 'we want to play a game with you'.
"I like to challenge myself, so any new player that wants to play against me, I'm more than happy to do that. And anything I can help them with like coaching like I'm more than happy to help with that as well."
But despite all the attention and excitement now surrounding Sherrock, there's one person keeping her totally grounded, her five-year-old son Rory.
Rory has autism and single mother Sherrock admits that motherhood is a challenge.
"I think it's always challenging bringing up a child. I think with him being autistic it's a bit more than normal, but because he's my only child I don't really know any different."
Sherrock auctioned off her match board after she beat Ted Evetts at the World Championship, raising thousands for the charity that aims to improve the lives of people with autism.
"I've raised quite a bit because, even though I've raised money, I've inspired more people to raise money for the charity as well. I still get people coming up to me saying 'can we donate to the National Autistic Society?' I feel so proud that I'm helping with that."
Sherrock had her son in mind when she withdrew from this year's BDO Championship last month. It the first time she has not participated in the competition since her debut in 2014.
The prize money was cut this year, with some players not guaranteed a pay-out for participating. After receiving an email concerning the prize money Sherrock decided not to take part.
"I got the email about the prize money and that made my mind up for me. I have to do what's best for me and my little boy."
She chose instead to play in an exhibition tournament in Germany with darts legend Phil Taylor and Italian World Cup winner Luca Toni.
Sherrock laughed as she recalled her first meeting with Taylor.
"I met him a few years back I think. I did one of my first exhibitions with Phil. I didn't really approach him as I was a bit too nervous!
"So now the fact I'm doing so many exhibitions with them, now I feel so comfortable. I speak to them now and I'm not scared anymore. They make me feel so welcome. I now get the privilege to play against them all the time.
"When I saw him [Phil] after the World Championships he said 'congratulations, well done, you've done yourself proud, you've done the game of darts proud' and he was so supportive."
Sherrock's work life has started to take on a mind of its own with countless opportunities being brought to her door since Ally Pally. She is a player on this year's world series and a challenger on the Premier League circuit.
She bagged her spot at the UK Open beating Stuart White 5-1 in the final of the qualifying event to book her place at the tournament in March.
But it was victory against another man that catapulted Sherrock into the limelight and it was Ted Evetts on the receiving end of her moment in history at Alexandra Palace.
"Going into the tournament I didn't expect to lose and I didn't expect to win. I was unsure about what was going to happen. I always believed that I could win so I was never doubting myself but going into it I was unsure what it was going to be like.
"I messaged Lisa Ashton beforehand as she was there previously. I asked her what it was like and what the atmosphere was like and how noisy it would be.
"It was amazing, you could feel the electric in the air, the support was amazing, I've never had support like that so I loved it, every bit of it."
Evetts was booed by the crowd during the match, something that has become a common theme in Sherrock's games against men.
"It's not nice, if I had the choice I'd get them not to do that. I can't really stop that but I do feel awful every time they do because no one wants to go up there, do something they love and get booed for it.
"I think that a time will come where the crowd just cheer for their favourite player. That will happen because obviously it's still a new experience for the crowd as well.
"Women are coming into the game now, we just need more opportunities to play men and then the crowd would get used to it, then there wouldn't be as much booing and then they would cheer for their favourite player rather than the underdog."
Next up for Sherrock is a Premier League Darts fixture against Glen Durrant on Thursday.
"I know how Glenn plays. I know he just plays the board, he doesn't worry about the crowd or who he's playing or anything like that so I kind of know how he's going to play anyway. I'm just going to play my own game and focus on what I'm going to do and see how it goes from there."
And after that?
"I'm just taking every day as it comes. I don't set myself goals or targets because that puts pressure on myself and I believe the only person that can put pressure on someone is yourself.
"I'm chilled out and seeing where it goes but I guess my next ambition would be to win more games on TV... and to be World Champion!"
Fallon is currently touring with the MODUS ICONS of DARTS featuring Fallon, Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, Wayne Mardle & Mark Webster – For More info visit www.dartshop.tv
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