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Tilley aiming for the big time
Tilley aiming for the big time

A Kent youngster with a well-known footballing father has started on the road to become a Darts professional.  

Mention the name Tilley to a Kent football fan and most will think of Chatham Town legend Gary. Today his son Jamie is looking to hit the bull and the trebles in the Darts world, and he’s been talking to KSN about his hopes… 

We started by asking why the arrows rather than the ball? “If you want the truth,” Jamie told us, “It got to the point where I was better at darts than football, and I knew I have more chance of making it professional playing darts than I did football, so I think that’s why I came down this route.” 

“To be honest, I do not remember loads about Dad’s career at Chatham… I remember bits and pieces, but where I was so young for most of his career, it’s hard to remember them all!”

“I remember his last game before he retired the first time, running through one on one and then his legs giving way and he just stumbled over!!!”

“I do not remember the three leg breaks he suffered clearly, but I know that never stopped him from carrying on! I think one of his favourite moments was his goal against Heybridge Swifts; it is on You Tube so he keeps reminding me and it was a good goal to be fair, so I do not blame him for enjoying watching that back a few times!” 

We then turned to Jamie and his dreams… “The first time I ever threw a dart was at my nan’s when I was a kid,” he recalled.

“The dartboard was on a chair, and I would have a throw every Monday, but that was all it was!! As I was slowly progressing, my dad got me to start coming out on a Thursday night and playing in a local doubles board league, and until COVID came around, that was all I done as I didn’t see it going or think of it going any further, it was only when COVID hit, and we was stuck indoors all day, that it was all I could do really, so by the time the restrictions stopped, I was a decent player!!”

“So, from that, someone in our Thursday team got me playing in a local league on a Wednesday for one season where I progressed a lot, and then the next year I made the jump to play Super League, so in all fairness I have not been playing a long time compared to some people!” 

“To be honest because I never really took much interest in darts till a few years ago, I have never really had an idol, everyone has their favourites when they are watching, but I would not say I have ever had an idol that I have looked up to.”

“But there have been players I’ve had advice from, professionals and people who are on the edge of professional status, at Q school this year, one of the days we had former world champion Rob Cross sat on our table and he just said enjoy it, if you’re enjoying playing, then the results will come with it!”

“People like Adrian Gray and Conan Whitehead, who is a local guy too, that I am also teammates with, they’ve always told me it doesn’t matter if you play well or play bad, if you win the game you’re playing in, then how you played is irrelevant, you won and that’s the main thing!”

“And I’ve also had support from people like David Wawrzewski who has helped me a lot in the last few months, getting me into London Super League and playing county darts for London too!” 

“I think the process can be different for everyone, you get people who don’t do Super League or county who just go straight to Qualifying school and try and get on tour, but the most common process for people would be playing Super League and then playing county too, until your game’s good enough to get to Q school and have a go at getting your tour card!” 

“I have just started playing county darts and I have already been promoted to the A team, my game’s in a good place at the minute, but where I am only young, I feel like I am still at the beginning, and I have got plenty more to do and go and achieve!”

“Playing on the PDC Development tour, which is the youth tour and starting on the Challenge tour, which is the one below the main tour this year for the first time was a big step for me and will help take my game to the next level.”

“Time wise I don’t know, there is so much talent nowadays, even some of the best players struggle to get tour cards, so I’m not sure, I’ve said from the start I wanted to have a tour card before I turn 26, so I’ve still got 5 years, but nothing is ever guaranteed in this sport and I guess that’s what is so good about it!”

“The goal is obviously you get a tour card, that is the main goal, everyone’s dream is to play at the World Championships and if I ever made it there then, anything after that, will just be a bonus!”

“But I think getting a tour card, being known as a professional, that would be the main goal, then once that happens, I can set other goals to try and make TV tournaments etc., but I think taking one step at a time is the way to go, which is getting on tour first!” 

If you want to get involved in Jamie’s story and know of a local company who would be interested in perhaps sponsoring him, please get in touch with Jamie directly at [email protected] or alternatively get in touch with KSN and we will forward any mails to Jamie…