Steve Beaton marked his record-breaking 31st consecutive World Championship appearance with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Fallon Sherrock in a compelling first-round tussle last night, in a match ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ described as one of the toughest of his illustrious career.
‘The Queen of the Palace’ received an incredible ovation as she returned to the scene of her history-making success two years ago, and she made a blistering start, firing in three 180s in as many legs to seize the early initiative.
Beaton came roaring back, following up a 13-dart hold with majestic 99 and 126 combination finishes to snatch the opening set with a ton-plus average, but Sherrock hit back in a second set littered with quality, producing legs of 11, 15 and 13 darts on throw to defy a 108 average from the 57-year-old.
The 1996 Lakeside champion responded by clinching set three without reply to regain control, yet Sherrock was undeterred, stopping the rot with a 13-dart hold and registering a fifth 180 en route to restoring parity in three straight legs of her one.
However, Beaton had the advantage of throw in the decisive fifth and set, and following a run of three consecutive holds, the darting veteran converted a nerveless 68 kill to curtail Sherrock’s Alexandra Palace dreams for 2021.
“That was one of the hardest games I’ve ever had to deal with and I’ve had some really hard games through the years,” admitted Beaton, who plays 32nd seed Kim Huybrechts in the second round.
“Fallon played really well, she didn’t let me go at all. She’s just relentless. I started off so well but then I let it slip and I thought she was going to get me. I didn’t want to go to a last leg decider so I was relieved that I put in a decent leg to win it.
“These are the games you want to play in. I still love the game and I’m getting paid to do something I enjoy.”
Beaton was the epitome of composure throughout. Ordinarily one of the most popular figures in the sport, ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ received a slightly hostile reception from the capacity crowd in north London, and although he appeared unfazed, he revealed the immense pressure he’s felt over recent weeks.
“People don’t understand I’ve had two or three weeks to dwell on this game and people just telling me who I’m playing,” he added post-match.
All the hype, people don’t understand you’re up there on your own and there’s only one person that can play the game. I’m so happy I won the game and I played well as well because Fallon played so well. For me, that’s one of the best results I’ve had.
“The problem with my game is that I can practice like that and I can do them averages all the time but I just can’t seem to take that up onto the stage. Maybe tonight I was in another zone and I just dug deep.
“You’ve got to treat everyone the same now because I’ve always said there’s no reason why a girl can’t play as good as a man and Fallon’s proved the point.
“I’ve had sleepless nights and everything. Nobody wants to play Fallon or Lisa, it’s just the way the draw comes out.”
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC