We’re going to start this off by confessing that we’ve never been the most die-hard darts fans, only occasionally watching the odd game when it’s on in the pub and not knowing much beyond the big names — but there’s one name that everyone’s tipping to join them: Luke Littler.
For a lot of people who’ve recently gotten into the arrows, the famous nine-dart finish from the 2023 World Darts Champion Michael Smith against Michael van Gerwen — which went down as ‘the greatest leg ever‘ — will have likely been their way into the sport. It certainly caught our attention.
However, despite last year’s thrilling winner and crowd favourite crashing out, young Luke Littler isn’t just exciting his fair share of fans, players and pundits alike with his senior debut but he could genuinely go on and win the lot and is rapidly attracting a raft of new viewers who suddenly have someone to support.
Oh yeah, and did you know he’s still only 16?
On a serious note, the constant reminder of his age may have become a bit of a meme, especially given the whole looking a bit older than a teenager thing (insert tired Wolfy from The Inbetweeners joke here), but, at the root, it’s simply because it’s so hard to believe he’s already that good.
That’s not to say that the youngster born just down the road in Runcorn and based even closer in Warrington is new to the game though; the 16-year-old told Sky Sports that he’s had a set of darts in his hand since he was “18 months old” and grew up idolising his sporting hero, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor.
Other players have won the WDC on debut in the past, his upcoming semi-final opponent Rob Cross being one of them back in 2018, but very few have ever arrived at the oche looking so at home and so supremely confident as such a young age.
Having secured his spot in the final four on New Year’s Day after beating seasoned pro and infamous big game pest, Brendan Dolan, the local phenomenon became the youngest player in history to reach the semi-finals, taking home a cool £100,000 in the process. Not bad for being basically fresh off his GCSEs.
The chants of ‘he’s got school in the morning!’ have been ringing around Alexandra Palace ever since he stepped foot in the place but it can’t be overstated just how true that is. The local lad and avid Manchester United fan only just finished secondary school this past summer and is now being discussed in the same breath as the game’s very best. Again, he’s 16.
What’s more is that it’s not just the obvious natural talent which he’s apparently boasted since the age of four that’s earning him so many fast fans and new eyes to the sport, in general: it’s his whole demeanour. He struts around the stage like he’s been there as long as any other player, rarely so much as a set and doesn’t just brush off the age jokes, he seems to almost thrive on the noise and the hype.
From conducting the Ally Pally crowd to the PDC’s famous ‘Chase The Sun’ theme song, winking, grinning and showboating at all the right moments; joking with interviewers about his post-match victory kebab and a coke, snapping selfies with famous footballers already enamoured with his meteoric rise and more — he really does look to have it all.
Everyone’s new favourite 16 year old is now just two games away not just from greatness, he’s already well and truly on that road, but a seriously immense bit of darts and sporting history full stop.
While van Gerwen became the youngest player to ever win a PDC major at 23 back in 2012, the youngest World Champion was Adrian Lewis at the age of 25. If Luke ‘The Nuke’ does goes on to lift that trophy, he’ll be comfortably in the history books before his career has even really started.
Moreover, the fact that he literally looks like half of the blokes most people went to school with (only with much better beard coverage than most of us had at that age) means that it’s been easy for fans and newcomers to latch on to him and a sport that’s viewership jumped 33% from 2022 to 2023 alone.
It was only after Christmas chats with nine-year-old nephews, hearing our nans talk about ‘that brilliant young darts lad’ and watching a packed out Mulligans full of people from all walks erupt in cheers and pure limbs after his previous win that it hit home just how massive a prospect he is for the future of darts.
He isn’t just the bookes’ favourite, he’s Ally Pally’s too.
With MvG now out and only former champ Cross, fellow unseeded underdog Scott Williams and another heavy favourite in Luke Humphries left standing in his way, he admitted he really is “starting to dream” that he can do it and, more importantly, he believes he can.
Luke Littler is looking like a truly generational talent who is already on the brink of history in what is sure to be a blockbuster all-English final two rounds and could truly change the game for decades to come.
No pressure — not that he’d feel it anyway.
It’s absolute fairytale stuff and we can’t wait to see how this chapter pans out. If you’re not into darts yet, we’d bet a fair few of you are about to be.
"𝙄'𝙢 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙣𝙤𝙬."
Luke Littler reflects on reaching the Semi-Finals to continue his historic debut run and responds to Premier League speculation ☢️🗣️
Featured Images — Luke Littler (via Instagram)/Sky Sports
Man United striker Rasmus Højlund set to miss Manchester derby as muscle injury rules him out for ‘two to three weeks’
Man United have suffered a pretty big short-term blow as their in-form forward Rasmus Højlund has been diagnosed with a muscle injury which is set to see him out for “two to three weeks”, meaning he will likely miss the upcoming Manchester derby.
The Danish striker has been running red-hot of late, scoring seven in his last six league games for Man United and now sitting as the club’s top marksman with 13 goals and two assists across all competitions, but just as Erik ten Hag’s side look to have got going, they will now be without him for a spell.
Issuing an update on Friday, 23 February, United confirmed that a muscle injury is “expected to rule him out for two to three weeks”, meaning he will miss this weekend’s fixture against Fulham, the FA Cup fifth round against Nottingham Forest and most likely the Manchester derby.
The Red Devils are currently unbeaten in 2024 and on a run of six wins out of their last seven, with Højlund making the difference in many of them.
ℹ️ Rasmus Hojlund has suffered a muscle injury which is expected to rule him out for two to three weeks.
He could potentially be back for the home game against Everton on 9 March.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, ten Hag went on to explain: “It is a small injury. That is what happens and the risk [when you are] playing at high intensity and training.”
The Dutchman reiterated, “As I say it is not a big injury, but he has to wait for one, two, three weeks”, though Reds will nevertheless be gutted to see the 21-year-old sidelined after having now started finding the net and putting together such an impressive run of performances.
While he emphasised that it is not a “big injury”, the timing couldn’t be more frustrating for a team that looks to be finally gathering some momentum, not only in and around the European places already but right on the trail of those chasing down the Champions League spots.
Højlund’s injury only adds to the club’s ever-growing list of players on the physio’s bench, including Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez and another huge setback in Luke Shaw’s long-term hamstring problems.
In contrast, Manchester City have been lofted by comebacks from both Erling Haaland, who is getting back on the scoresheet once again, and midfielder maestro Kevin De Bruyne as they look to step up the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
The treble-winners were always going to be putting in a very strong title defence but the return of KDB has reminded football fans just exactly how good he is. The Belgian was left on the bench against Brentford due to “minor niggles” but you can fully expect him to be raring to go come derby day.
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
🖼️ A new County-themed mural is currently being created in Edgeley by a talented group of young street artists – with a little help from Ethan Pye!
The new Stockport County mural is being completed as we speak.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Ethan offering his services off the pitch too.You can’t miss it.Credit: Supplied
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.