Jon Dunham – What Ricky has achieved is something very special

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

You don’t have to be a big fan of darts to understand how impressive the achievements of Kettering’s Ricky Evans have been this year.

It was back in January that Evans won a PDC Pro Tour card in the Qualifying School and what has followed has been a massive success story.

He reached the final of the World Youth Championship, which was played in front of 10,000 people at the O2 Arena on the Premier League finals night.

That earned him a place in one of the PDC calendar’s major events – the Grand Slam of Darts – and earlier this month he didn’t disgrace himself with some decent performances against seasoned professionals before going out in the group stages.

He also qualified for the UK Open in June, which was his main target after earning a place on the Pro Tour.

But, in his wildest dreams, he probably didn’t imagine he would be finishing the year by competing in the biggest tournament of all.

Just a few weeks ago, Evans looked out of contention as far as qualifying for the Ladbrokes World Championship was concerned.

But he made it happen for himself. A couple of brilliant outings in recent Players Championships saw him scoop some major prize money which, in turn, moved him up the rankings.

He has now earned his place in the first-round draw of the competition, which will be played out in front of thousands of people at the Alexandra Palace in London as well as a huge television audience.

It really is the stuff dreams are made of. And why should it stop there?

Just last Sunday, Evans defeated Dutch superstar Michael van Gerwen during a Players Championship event. Those of you who know the sport will know that van Gerwen has been the in-form player in the PDC over the last year and also won the Premier League on the same night Evans was beaten in the World Youth Championship final.

It just goes to show that anything can happen. Just ask Rushden’s James Richardson, who became an overnight sensation when he knocked Raymond van Barneveld out of the World Championship a couple of years ago.

There are those who question the validity of darts as a sport, I choose to ignore them.

Evans is the perfect example of a young person who has the guts and desire to follow their dream. He is now living it.

Hopefully, the draw which is live on Sky Sports News on Monday morning, will be kind and Evans will get the chance to show what he can do in London next month.

What he has achieved this year, whether you like darts or not, is something very special.

Kettering and the county should be very proud of their latest sporting star.