Luke Littler’s former manager launches academy in unlikely Salford venue

White Swan landlady Lindsey Smethills and darts coach Arran Mattinson, who once managed Luke Littler, have launched a new darts academy for young people
-Credit: (Image: White Swan)


The former youth coach of darts sensation Luke Littler is launching an academy to help find the next rising stars in the sport - and he's turned to an unlikely venue in Salford.

Last week, 17-year-old Luke claimed victory at the Premier League Darts 2024 final at London's O2 Arena earning him the title the youngest major winner in darts history.

Since making his debut at the 2023 UK Open last March, Luke, originally from Runcorn in Cheshire, has won a number of leading tournaments including the World Youth Darts Championship and the Austrian Darts Open. This week, he also took part in the US Darts Masters.

READ MORE: The incredible journey of North West darts sensation Luke Littler

A self-confessed Manchester United supporter, Luke was born in Warrington and trained at the St Helens Darts Academy. He also spent time with the Lancashire Youth Darts team, where Arran Mattinson served as manager.

Impressed by the success of Luke, Arran has now set up a weekly darts academy for children aged between 8 and 16 at the White Swan pub in Swinton. He explained: “Darts is a fantastic game for young people. It requires concentration, and develops maths and social skills – and, of course, is a constructive way for youngsters to spend their free time.”

Luke Littler won the Premier League in darts last week
Luke Littler won the Premier League in darts last week -Credit:PA

Since its recent inception, the White Swan Darts Academy has proved to be a big success with locals. Landlady Lindsey Smethills said: “When Arran spoke to me about his idea, I thought it made perfect sense.

“Luke Littler has created so much interest in darts through his amazing success – not least last week. And, as a pub, we are always looking for ways to do things for the community. So, it seemed like the perfect time to do something like this – not least because there aren't many opportunities around here for children so young to learn how to play. And from such an expert!”

The darts academy aims to find the next young darts sensation
The darts academy aims to find the next young darts sensation -Credit:White Swan Darts Academy

So far, the club has only drawn in the interest of one local girl, eight-year-old Esmee Millington. Arran hopes, over time, the club will draw in more girls over time and he’s enlisted the help of the likes of Eleanor Cairns, winner of the WDF World Championship, to come in and speak to the club. Four-time Ladies BDO World Champion Lisa Ashton has also promised to visit.

The academy runs every Wednesday and the recent session saw more than 30 children take part. Posting on Facebook, Arran said: “Officially one month into our new academy and what a month it’s been. Eight different winners across the nights and a lot of new friends made between them.”

And it’s not just Arran that has a connection to Luke. The White Swan is run by Manchester-based pub operator Joseph Holt, which also runs The Millhouse in Warrington where Luke’s brother Leon works as a bartender. Friends and family regularly gather at the pub to watch the teenager’s games and support him along the way.

Landlady Lindsey and coach Arran Mattinson with young recruit, eight-year-old Esmee Millington
Landlady Lindsey and coach Arran Mattinson with young recruit, eight-year-old Esmee Millington -Credit:White Swan

Mark Norbury, Joseph Holt’s Pubs Director, added: “As a brewery we were so proud to support Luke Littler on his journey to the world championships and so it`s wonderful for Lindsey and the White Swan to play its part in encouraging more youngsters to play.

“Our pubs are so much more than places to eat or enjoy our award-winning ales. They are at the heart of the community and we look forward to this new group going from strength to strength.”

The White Swan Darts Academy runs every Wednesday from 6pm, with entry costing £3 per player. You must enquire with Arran on Facebook to arrange a place as there is a waiting list.