Luke Littler’s fairytale journey to his first-ever PDC World Darts Championship final may have come to a disappointing end after a 7-4 defeat to world no.1 Luke Humphries, but his humble post-match interview proved exactly why so many have already fallen in love with him.
The 16-year-old darting sensation fell just shy of the World title despite putting on yet another incredible display and even going two sets clear of ‘Cool Hand’ at one point in the match, but beyond his obvious natural affinity for the game, it’s his persona on and off the stage that has once again endeared fans.
Speaking to Sky Sports’ Abigail Davies in the aftermath of his thrilling final — on his World Championship debut, no less — Littler said the “only negative” is that he “lost too many legs” with his own third darts and let the other Luke break his throw on one too many occasions.
Regardless, he said his maiden tournament has been “unbelievable”, insisting that “every game’s been good” and that he’s simply chuffed to now be in the top 32 in the world and have graduated to the pro tour so early in his career.
Still brimming with pride in himself and clearly focusing on the incredible achievement of being the youngest player in history to reach the final rather than the more immediate sting of falling at the final hurdle, the teenager was just happy to receive such high praise from both his opponent and the crowd as they serenaded him with, “there’s only one Luke Littler!”.
Humphries had nothing but good things to say of his young adversary, insisting that “Luke has been an unbelievable talent. Not just on the dartboard: he has been fantastic with all the media, and he took defeat so well there.”
The 28-year-old went on to add that he simply had to win this time because “he’s going to dominate world darts soon”, adding, “You will never see another 16-year-old kid like him. He’s something else. He’s one of the finest players in the world, there’s no doubt about that.”
While most people his age might have let the atmosphere and the emotion get the better of him, he continued to keep the same cool, calm and composed attitude that he exhibited throughout the competition deep into the post-match interviews.
Starting off his post-match presser by saying “I haven’t lost much [on that stage]” and that “you can’t be angry at yourself” for making it to a final, he said that his aim was only ever to “win one game” and that the support he’s received across the nation ever since his opening round victory has been “crazy”.
As well as having the presence of mind to sit and analyse where he went wrong, he also showed a level of grace and gratitude not only for getting to this point in the first place but even while fielding the media’s questions, giving detailed answers and thanking journalists for their time — a trait some of the best and most senior athletes in the world still haven’t mastered.
Humble, confident and unquestionably skilled in equal measure? Yeah, this lad is going to go far.
Even if, as he said, he doesn’t get to another final for another five or ten years, this talented teen from Warrington has already made a huge impact on darts culture and helped attract a whole new generation of fans with his first TV appearance.
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.
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.
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.
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.