Fallon Sherrock: I'm high risk for coronavirus — but at least I can stay in and practise darts with my son

Vicki Hodges
Fallon Sherrock of England throws during her third round match against Chris Dobey of England on Day 12 of the 2020 William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace - GETTY IMAGES
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At the beginning of March, Fallon Sherrock’s diary was bursting with tournaments, exhibition matches and a stack of TV appearances ranging from Good Morning Britain to Sport Relief. 

Such was the continuing interest in the 25-year-old’s exploits at the PDC World Championships in December — when she became the first woman to defeat a man and provided the feel-good sporting story of the festive period — everyone wanted a piece of the "Queen of the Palace".

A trip to New York was planned in early June for an appearance at Madison Square Garden. Further expeditions to Australia and New Zealand for events in August were also booked.

Those far-flung adventures now hang in the balance due to the global spread of the coronavirus.

If there is a positive from the enforced break, it is that Sherrock has been given a moment to digest a slice of her whirlwind story. And it will only be a slice. For the single mum has a five-year-old son Rory, who is autistic, to homeschool around practice sessions, while also being mindful of her own health as she manages an ongoing kidney complaint.

Thankfully, Sherrock has the support of her mother close at hand. Rory has been spending weekends at his grandmother’s while Sherrock continues to build her profile and reach new audiences, which included pairing with 2006 Football World Cup winner Luca Toni at the Celebrity Darts World Cup in Germany back in January.

Recently, with restrictions in place due to the coronavirus crisis, Sherrock has asked her mother to move in to provide additional help with Rory and pharmacy collections.

“I’ve been at home for nearly a couple of weeks since the situation started getting scary,” Sherrock told Telegraph Sport. “Rory was told last Tuesday he could come out of school. He’d been off the week before as there were a few cases of hand, foot and mouth so we’ve been getting used to time at home.”

Home schooling has provided another complexity for working parents since the closures last Friday. For those with autistic children, like Rory, it has become an even bigger challenge.

“It’s much different to his normal day,” Sherrock said. “With his autism he’s used to routine. It’s not like that now but he’s adjusting to it and enjoying it at the moment.

“It’s his birthday in a couple of weeks. I’d booked it off so was planning on being at home. I was going to take him to a dinosaur park, but that can’t happen now. We’ll probably bake a cake and have a little party inside for us instead.”

Since giving birth to Rory, the former hairdresser has battled with a kidney problem. It is the reason Sherrock is seen constantly sipping water between throws, to flush out her kidneys.

“I’m in the high-risk category [for coronavirus],” she added. “If I’ve needed to go to the shops, I’ve sent my mum or sister. There was only one day where I had to go out. I was standing far away from other people, I had my scarf around my face, I looked really weird but I was so cautious.”

With daily medication and injections, she can manage her condition.  

“The injections get delivered to my house so that’s not a problem,” Sherrock explained. “The pills will be pre-ordered by my doctor but then I’ll get my mum to collect them.”

Compared to other sportspeople, Sherrock is fortunate to be able to maintain practice sessions at home. A dartboard takes pride of place in her living room and Sherrock has been clocking up four hours of practice a day, more than she had managed when she was on the road and ticking off the growing interview requests.

Rory now accompanies Sherrock during some of her practices, with his own dartboard propped up on a chair.

“He didn’t take an interest before the world championships,” Sherrock said. "But after I'd been on the TV over Christmas, and talking to his friends at school who had also been watching, he was then interested. Before that, I’d say to him, ‘Do you want to throw some darts?’ He’d look and say, ‘It’s too high’. Now he really wants to get into it.

“He’s going to be really good by the time we’re through all of this,” Sherrock, who hadn’t picked up a dart until she was 17, laughs before adding: “He’ll be starting youth games and beating everyone.”

These less hectic times have allowed Sherrock to read the messages of support she has received since her social media exploded after her first-round victory over Ted Evetts at Alexandra Palace last December, a victory which PDC chairman Barry Hearn called a "game-changing moment" for the sport.

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Sarah Jessica Parker and Billie Jean King were among the first wave of celebrities and sporting icons to start following Sherrock’s progress, but the big-name entourage has not disappeared in recent weeks.

“I’ve had a chance to go through my followers and catch up with a lot more messages. Paddy McGuinness and Lord Sugar have now started following me. I’m like ‘What’s going on’. These people are massive. It’s crazy.”

Before the season was temporarily suspended, Sherrock racked up a clean sweep of four BDO titles at the Isle of Man Darts Festival earlier this month. She admits she played with free abandon knowing it was likely to be the last tournament for a while.

Now, in this period of self isolation, she is encouraging children and adults alike to invest in a dartboard in their homes. “We had hit a level with darts and didn’t think it could go any further, but now the world is taking an interest in it.

“With all what is going on at the moment, I hope everyone’s got a dartboard because it’s an easy game to play inside, it’s fun and you can play it anywhere.”

Who knows, the next Fallon Sherrock could be busily fine-tuning their skills in their living room or bedroom over the coming months.