THIRTEEN-year-old darts sensation Billy Holmes is counting down the days to the biggest occasion of his young life when he takes on the best amateur players in the country – some old enough to be his father.
The city thrower has booked a place in the final of the Protege Team Taylor event this Sunday after showing off his skills in a range of disciplines over the last couple of months.
Set up by 15-time World champion Phil Taylor to find the next ‘Power’ of British darts, the competition has seen the best amateur players in the country compete in Rileys clubs, where each player undertakes a series of tasks in a bid to score as many points as possible.
Needing to come inside the top 64 to qualify for the big final in Wolverhampton, Billy finished 44th in the UK after starring at his nearest club in Northampton, and will now play against the best in a straight knockout tournament, with a handful of places in the PDC’s Qualifying School up for grabs.
With a free ticket onto the lucrative PDC Tour the ultimate prize at the end of the process, the event has attracted a wealth of talent, including some former professionals looking for a way back into the big time.
That means Billy is by far the youngest competitor to have reached the final, and although he doesn’t yet know who he will play, it will definitely be someone with far more experience.
But after shocking a few adults in his first ever competitive tournament a few weeks ago – in which he scored 180 on just his second trip to the oche – Billy ‘the Kid’ is full of confidence, and relishing the opportunity of turning a few more heads.
Dad Mark is trying to prepare Billy the best he can for the big occasion, including taking in a professional event in Barnsley on Saturday. He says Billy can expect to play in a different atmosphere to what he is now used to, as not everyone he meets is appreciative of his incredible talents at such a young age.
“Some people just don’t like him,” said Mark. “If you are drawn against him you’re on a hiding to nothing. No player wants to lose to him, but some will. He’s good. He’s a real player.
“Lots of people watch him at his local club, but those there on Sunday will not have seen him before. I’m expecting lots of people to be crowding around and that brings pressure.
“He shouldn’t win, but with Billy at the moment you just never know. On his day he can give anyone a game – and he’s in great form this week.
“I’m really proud of him. To be playing at this standard at 13 is remarkable. I love telling people he’s my son.”