DARTS sensation Billy Holmes has taken the final little step on his quest for potential stardom, and is counting down the months until he can finally throw his arrows on the big stage.
The Citizen first met Billy ‘The Kid’ when he was just nine-years-old, throwing darts around his Heelands home for fun under the watchful eye of dad Mark – one of the leading players in the county in his day – whose tuition has maintained and enhanced the now 13-year-old’s incredible talent.
Gradually moving him back further and raising the dart board higher over the last five years, Mark has taught the Hazeley Academy student to now play from the full adult distance of 7 feet 9 inches and the height of 5 feet 9 inches – and he still throws with fantastic accuracy.
Showing great patience over the last few years, Mark has now decided it’s time to allow Billy to compete in adult tournaments, with the aim of joining the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) Youth Tour when he turns 14 – the youngest age allowed.
And Billy has already been making a name for himself on the national scene having recently got involved with the Phil Taylor Protege Team, set up in association with the 15-time World Champion to find the next big thing in UK darts. Competing in a range of skills activities, his name can already be found amongst the top 30 men in the country, including some PDC regulars looking to get back on the national circuit.
“He just walked into Rileys in Northampton and did what he does at home,” said dad Mark, who now lives with Billy in Newport Pagnell. “The whole place just stopped to watch him. He’s incredible. But he just takes it all in his stride. He’s been building towards this for years and now he gets the chance to show what he can do.”
Billy’s exploits have already seen him rub shoulders with some of the country’s leading professionals, including world number five Wes Newton, Simon Whitlock and Barry Bates, and the general opinion is that he is one of the best young players they have ever seen – a compliment that Mark appreciates, but also struggles with at times.
“It’s difficult to tell people that your son is the best young darts player in the country, because quite frankly, most of the time they don’t believe you, and it’s hard to blame them,” he said. “You know someone has got to be the best and that there are great young players out there, but you never think it’s the kid standing next to you.
“Fortunately Billy takes it all very well. He trains for at least two hours a day, and while he now says he wants to be a professional, he isn’t getting carried away with himself. He knows it will only come with even more years of hard work.
“This is now a big year for him. He’s been slowly moving along to this point. He didn’t even realise that I was moving him back further from the board over the years, so it’s been a very gradual process, but we’ve got there in the end.
“Now I want him to play in tournaments, but with no pressure to win. He will be playing against men up to the age of 21-22 on the PDC Youth Tour but I think he can handle it and will do well.
“His age continues to make it a waiting game but eventually his talent will show through and we’ll see what he can achieve.”
Billy would regularly be seen playing at The Tawny Owl pub in Walnut Tree, and more recently at pubs in Newport Pagnell, but once he turns 14, the world – like his darts – will be in the palm of his hands.