Declan’s doing great in darts!

Declan with Wayne Mardle & Richard AshdownSpectators at the recent darts exhibition organised by Lee Chenery, where Wayne Mardle showed his skills as a former world-class player and now commentator, against a range of local players at Haverfordwest Cricket Club, will have seen a promising young player take him on who has aspirations to do well on the oche.
Because Declan Coles loves a game he excels in locally and has already travelled hundreds of miles in pursuit of recognition in darts and is prepared to continue that aim in the future by not only captaining the Milford Arms team but playing on the Development Tour and aiming to join the Challenge Tour as soon as possible.
Declan has played other sports but readily admits that he is totally hooked on darts after starting out at the age of 16, which is relatively old for many of today’s players!

Chance meeting started him off

It was a chance meeting which started him on the long road when a pal from school invited him to try his luck in a local pub and he enjoyed it from the moment he threw his first three darts.
Before long he was playing for The Oak at the top of Haverfordwest in the local darts league and although he lost his first 501 match he quickly grew in experience and developed his throwing skills – although he admits that he needs to work hard at hitting his doubles more if he is to progress in the game, as well as conquering his nerves when he steps into the spotlight and it’s only him against an opponent that counts.
“It can be a lonely place when things are not going quite right,” Declan told us with a chuckle!
180s galore – and a highest check out in a county match
He can still recall the first time he hit the magical 180 (three treble 20s) but says that now he is disappointed if they don’t pop up quite regularly.
He has also hit the highest score to finish a game with 170 (two treble 20s and the bull) whilst playing for the county against Shropshire a week after claiming his first win at that level.

“In a best of five games I was drawing 2-2 with an experienced opponent but thought my chance had gone because he had three darts for victory but couldn’t take it.
“As a result I had to score the magic 170 and after two darts in the treble 20 I took a short breath and watched as my third dart went straight into the little red circle called ‘The Bull’!

Milford Arms’ regular and mentored by Rob Hughes

After a year he joined the very strong Milford Arms team at the bottom of town and practises  every night at home on the dart board in the spare bedroom and when asked if there were any dart marks in the wall he said yes, but only when some friends have joined him and wanted to have a throw!
He also practises whenever he can with Rob Hughes, from Milford Haven, who has appeared in the British Darts Organisation’s World Championships and done well.
“Rob is a brilliant mentor for me and has given me so many tips that have helped me develop as a person and with my own game – and he is proof that local players can do well if they work hard enough at it.
“Lee Chenery, who organises the darts evenings with the likes of top players like Wayne Mardle, has also been great with his encouragement and let me play last against Wayne recently.”

Doing well despite nasty injury

Declan is currently captain of the Milford Arms team which sits in second spot in the league table, having only lost once, against current leaders The Welcome Traveller, although he missed out for two months after jamming his hand in a door and damaging a metacarpal in his throwing hand so badly that he is now minus the knuckle.
“It was a body blow but I’m glad to say that I was quickly back into the groove and I feel I’m back throwing well now.”

Other sports

Outside of his darts, Declan played rugby and football and still enjoys a game, but only as long as they don’t interfere with his darts.

“I used to play up front for Prendergast Villa and I’ve played in the front row for a few local rugby clubs and still help out Haverfordwest Second XV when I can.
“I started out at STP under the coaching of Jonathan Dodd and Med Richards and played for Neyland juniors because some of my school mates played there, joined Llangwm for a season and then played youth rugby in Fishguard after we had joined forces with them because neither club had enough players.
“We had Jonathan ‘JJ’ Jones and big Alan Phillips as really good coaches and since I started playing at Haverfordwest because it was nearer home I have found a great camaraderie there too.”

Great support from parents, plus Mark and Rose

But it is darts that occupies his time outside work at Withybush Hospital and he is quick to sing the praises of his parents Vicki and Henry, for all their total support.

“The Development Tour takes me to venues like Wigan, Barnsley, the Midlands and a few venues down south and dad drives me everywhere – and sponsors my entry fees as I play against many of the top under 23 players in the world who are looking for a qualifying card.
“I have also been lucky to be helped by Mark Edwards (Eddie Rocks) and Rose Owen (The Bull, Prendergast) and I can’t thank them enough either.
“I’ve played against the likes of Berry van Peer (a very good young Dutch player) – and had chances to win but missed a couple of important doubles against a player now suffering from dartitis after defeat against  Gary Anderson in the Grand Slam of Darts.

Looking forward to ‘The Challenge’

The next stage for Declan is to gain entry to the Challenge Tour, which is one stage below the top professional game, and again demands so much travel to the venues already mentions but to others like Milton Keynes, Minehead, Newcastle, Cardiff; and even twice in Germany – with a prize in each tournament of £10,000.
But first there is that matter of gaining an entry card at the Q School in Wigan, with upwards of 400 aspiring young darters looking for a maximum of 12 places over four days – so Declan knows that ‘Challenge’ is the right word!
It means having to stay up north in a hotel for a few days but again mum and dad come up trumps  with their support. He showed his potential in his first visit there as he was leading 2-0 in his first match, but missed doubles and went down 5-2 – something he intends making sure doesn’t happen next time!

And finally . . .

So what of the future for young Declan? He hopes to go to Cardiff University to study radiology but he will keep trying to raise his profile in darts no matter what.
There is no doubt that Declan Coles has a sporting dream in darts but knows there is a long road ahead – and we wish him every success because he typifies hard work in pursuit of that ambition and who knows; one day we might just see him on television, throwing his darts in top competitions alongside Peter Cross, Michael van Gerwyn and Gary Anderson, who all had to start somewhere before reaching the top of the darting tree!

Declan with Wayne Mardle & Richard Ashdown