Steve Beaton faces Fallon Sherrock in the first round of the 2021-22 PDC World Darts Championship

The Fallon Sherrock fanfare is enough to put off most opponents, as they face off against not only one of the rising stars of darts, but also her army of supporters.

But Steve Beaton is not just any darts player. The 57-year-old has been around the sport long enough to have seen it all.

A world champion in 1996, ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ is currently preparing for a record 31st World Championship appearance.

His consistency over that time frame is nothing short of remarkable, and make no mistake, he still packs a punch. When Sherrock was making history two years ago beating Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic, Beaton was putting together an impressive run to the last 16, with wins over the late Kyle Anderson and eighth seed James Wade.

Beaton upset James Wade two years ago

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Beaton upset James Wade two years ago

Beaton upset James Wade two years ago

The Queen of the Palace is attracting all the headlines again this year, but it is a challenge that the experienced Englishman is relishing.

“Like our good friend Eric (Bristow) used to say, ‘you just play the game’. You go up there to win. I’m going up there and I’ll treat her like any other player really. She’s just an opponent. I’ve got to go up there, get my head in gear and play,” Beaton told The Darts Show Podcast.

“She’s very good on the stage. She proved that at the Grand Slam, her averages… It’s just a matter of how long she’s going to carry that on. Everybody knows these days that if you’re not averaging in the 90s, 100s these days, you’re going to lose.

“So that’s what I’ve got to go up and do obviously.”

Like Eric Bristow used to say, ‘you just play the game.’

Beaton will be hoping to block out the noise

Despite being a popular figure within the sport, Beaton is likely to adopt the role of the pantomime villain for the evening in the eyes of the Alexandra Palace crowd.

“Sometimes when I was in Ireland at the Grand Prix. They’d start to boo you, once I was playing one of the Irish lads. And obviously the crowd wanted him to win!” Beaton laughed.

“I’ve had that before. That’s just part of the game. But I might put ear plugs in. I don’t know.”

Nonetheless, he views the return of crowds over the past year as a welcome development.

“That’s the whole reason you play darts, to get onto a big stage like that. It’s part of the game. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you’re under pressure,” he explained.

“You’re in a corner, you’re on your own up there. That’s the nature of the game. That’s the thrill of the game, and that’s why you enjoy it so much.

“Last year wasn’t one of my best years, and there was only a handful of people in the audience for my first-round game before the clampdown. That was awful, because you could hear every voice that was going.

“So fingers crossed, I’m hoping for 3,000 or 4,000 in there. You get this hum of singing and obviously I might get a few boos I suppose. But the atmosphere is a lot better if you get a full crowd in there, so that’s what I’m hoping for

“They’re probably going to be a little bit bias. But who knows?

“I’m not the quickest of starters, that’s my biggest problem in darts. I find myself playing catch-up. But I’m hoping for a good start this year.”

Beaton will look to hit the ground running

Beaton will look to hit the ground running

A mixed year

Beaton has not been at his best this year, but he knows qualifying for the World Championship is nothing to be sniffed at.

“The last two years have not been brilliant, but I’ve done enough this year to qualify,” he said.

“I was looking at some of the ones that haven’t qualified. I see John Henderson a lot, he hasn’t qualified. So I’m over the moon that, although I haven’t had a brilliant year, that I’m in the Worlds again.

“I seem to just do enough to get through tournaments. I’m quite steady. I think the only problem this year has been the Covid and not being able to do the exhibitions. They’re sort of practice.

“Next year, hopefully things get back to normal, and I can get back on the circuit, using exhibitions as my practice, and then doing the tournaments as well. That’s the way I’m looking towards.”

Can Beaton go on another run at the Ally Pally?

Can Beaton go on another run at the Ally Pally?

Nonetheless, he is not going to the Ally Pally simply to make up the numbers and says he still has the game to add a second world title to his CV.

Beaton said: “Definitely, yeah. When you’re up on that stage, you want to win. I’ve still got that drive. Every tournament I go in, I want to win it. I’m not just going there to make the numbers up.

“It’s just maybe I’m getting a bit older now and the consistency ain’t the same. But when I’m on form, I can beat anybody.”

Now in his fourth decade competing at the top table of darts, Beaton has seen the sport change.

“When we played the Embassy [World Championship], we had a crowd of about 1,200 or 1,300 in there. Very compact. That was nice,” he reminisced.

“Now you’re looking at 3,000 or 4,000 at the Ally Pally. And these Premier Leagues, 9,000 or 10,000 people, it’s unbelievable really.

“When Barry (Hearn) took it over, he said he was going to do this and do that. And fair play, it was unbelievable how he took darts to where it is now. I just wish that had been in the 1980s. I’m just getting the tail end of it now, but still making a living out of it, which is great!”

The standards have sky-rocketed during that time.

“When I’m playing in the Worlds, I’ve got to be up in the 90s, 100s [averages] to have a chance,” he said.

“And that’s what it’s like with all the games now. The averages are unbelievable.

“The accuracy these days, especially the youngsters coming up now, they’ve got such a good opportunity to do well. It just depends on how long they can stay there. But I think for a youngster now, it’s a great sport to be involved in.”

It’s not long to wait until the darts returns to your screens and it’s the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace – join us on Sky Sports for every arrow from every session across 16 days which gets under way on Wednesday, December 15. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts.


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