SHE'Ss the unassuming former hairdresser who has become an overnight sporting hero – by beating the men at their own game.
Fallon Sherrock, 25, made history when she became the first woman to triumph over a male player at a darts world championship on Tuesday evening.
The single mum to five-year-old Rory burst into tears after defeating match favourite Ted Evetts, telling the crowd: “I have proved that we can play the men and we can beat them!”
Her victory was greeted with euphoria that went beyond the darts world.
Stephen Fry tweeted his congratulations, posting: “Momentous breakthrough for @Fsherrock and women’s darts. A million congratulations on a great victory. And hats off too to @SuperTed180 for his grace in defeat. Great match, great day.”
And Fallon was not just championing the cause of women’s equality.
Son Rory has autism and she revealed she plans to auction off her signed match board to help raise money for the National Autistic Society, which helps to support him.
As his full-time carer, Fallon admits it can be hard to juggle looking after him with progressing in the sport, which has taken her to tournaments in Japan, Denmark and Slovakia.
She said: “Looking after Rory is a full-time job in itself. I get my family to help when I’m playing darts, and when he’s in bed is the only time I get to practise.
"He’s normally in bed about 7pm, and that’s when I hit the board.”
But she added: “He loves the fact that I play darts. I think he’s going to be really proud of me. He watched it last night and he’s so happy.”
Fallon’s win is even more remarkable because she has also had to overcome her own health problems, in the form of kidney disease, which struck six months after Rory’s birth.
She said: “It was a worrying time. I started taking medication to weaken my immune system because that is what was attacking my kidneys.
“The problem was when I went on different medication, I suffered side effects which caused moon face, where my face swelled up.”
During the 2017 BDO World Championships cruel trolls laid into her bloated appearance.
“I think that attitude helps to strengthen my character. It made me stronger and it made me want to do something more in my game.”
'I'VE PUT LADIES' DARTS ON THE MAP'
Fallon certainly achieved that on Tuesday.
Her besting of 22-year-old Ted at the PDC World Championship at London’s Alexandra Palace earned her £15,000 — the biggest payday of her life — and she has since been inundated with sponsorship offers.
But for modest Fallon, it’s not the money that has delighted her.
Speaking after her win, she said: “I’m just happy I’ve made history and put ladies’ darts on the map. I’m waiting for it all to sink in because I can’t describe how I’m feeling.
“But I hope I’ve just inspired more women to take up the sport.
“I’m so glad my son is going to grow up looking at the newspaper cuttings and thinking, ‘Wow, my mum did this’. I’ll settle for that.”
Fallon, who worked as a mobile hairdresser before her darts career took off, has had a meteoric rise in the sport, which she got into thanks to her twin sister Felicia, who is also a darts player.
Skill with the arrers clearly runs in the family, as mum Sue, who works in a garage, is keen too.
Fallon, from Milton Keynes, Bucks, revealed: “It sounds really bad but I never actually wanted to play.
“When I was 15 I used to go with my sister to her youth games because she was really good.
“I started playing when I was about 16, and I got picked for the England youth team the next year because I was doing quite well. It’s all spiralled from there.” Success came fast and she was just 17 when she became the WDF World Cup 2011 Girls Singles Champion.
The following year she won the Girls World Masters and the Women’s Jersey Open, then in 2015 she reached the final of the women’s BDO World Darts Championship, aged just 20.
'WE JUST NEED MORE OPPORTUNITIES'
Fallon is only the fifth woman to play at the PDC World Championship.
This year she was one of only two women taking part — because the rules say only two can enter, one from the UK or Ireland, and one “worldwide” player.
This year’s other female player, Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki, got knocked out on Sunday.
Fallon said: “There are only two women that can qualify but maybe raising it to four would help.
“There are more women that can play to my level, if not better. We just need more opportunities.”
For decades darts has been a male-dominated pub sport. And not surprisingly, Fallon has experienced sexism and has even had her sexuality questioned, especially in the cowards’ court of social media.
'I GET CALLED A LESBIAN'
She said: “You always get the odd comment, along the lines of the women are not as good as the men, and I get called a lesbian.
“At least one barrier has come down — they can’t say anything now because we’ve beaten the men at the world championships.”
In recent years women have slowly made headway in the sport, with a significant increase in female players and spectators as the tournaments become more inclusive. Loudly cheering a favourite player, often while wearing a daft costume, is the new order of the day and Fallon said the crowds had certainly helped her confidence, especially as they started singing her name as she beat Ted.
She said: “I definitely heard it — you couldn’t miss it — and it was amazing. I’ve never had that many people singing my name and calling for me. That was unbelievable.
“It gives you more confidence and it makes me want to prove myself to them. And when I do, it’s awesome. It makes me happy that I put in a really good performance.”
Not that Fallon ever looks like she lacks confidence. She said: “Every time I play darts I try to keep my poker face on and stay focused until that last dart has gone in.
“On Tuesday I just about managed to hold it together. There were nearly tears, but I was checking that my make-up was fine.”
Fallon’s dad Steve, an electrician, was in the audience to see his daughter make history, while son Rory watched at her modest two-bedroom home.
She has already achieved the biggest prize of her career so far, with the guaranteed £15,000 for knocking out Ted.
And if she beats world number 11 Mensur Suljovic in the second round on Saturday evening that will go up to £25,000.
Fallon said: “I’m going to take each game as it comes and not look too far ahead, and I’m sure Mensur will be ruthless.
“But I can dare to dream.”