DARTS: England call sees Ball competing with elite

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Long Sutton thrower Claire Ball is being tipped for the darting big time after being handed an England call-up for the British Internationals.

Ball, who plays regularly in the Spalding and District Darts League, will be playing alongside British Darts Organisation (BDO) World Darts Championship regulars Trina Gulliver, Deta Hedman, Lisa Ashton and Lorraine Farlam at the Scotland event on April 6 and 7.

Ian Tilley  top refereeing event in Spain. Horse and Groom inn Holbeach. 'Photo:  SG260213-224TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto

Ian Tilley top refereeing event in Spain. Horse and Groom inn Holbeach. 'Photo: SG260213-224TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto

Having started her career as a small-time local player at pub level, the South Holland ace has been earning rave reviews as a county performer for Cambridgeshire’s A team.

An impressive 167 finish in her latest county match caught the eye of three-time world champion Martin “Wolfie” Adams – and local darting legend Ian Tilley, who is chairman of the Spalding and District Darts League and a regular referee at Cambrideshire’s matches, reckons Ball can use the call-up as a springboard to compete at Lakeside for the first time next year.

He said: “Claire really is a great talent – sometimes I don’t know if she realises just how good she is.

“She started off a pub player back at the Jolly Crispin years ago, but she has excelled at both local and super league level before playing for Cambridgeshire.

“Myself and Martin (Adams) were watching her closely in here last game – she made a 167 finish and we were both so impressed.

“But she just shrugged her shoulders, she makes it look so easy.

“Now she’ll be playing with the world’s elite players – and I don’t think she’ll be out of place at all.

“Next year the women’s tournament at Lakeside will be extended to 16 players – and she’ll have every chance of getting in there.”

Tilley himself has been received a bit of good news in recent weeks, with the BDO picking him to referee, with the microphone, at the Torremolinos Open in Spain from March 10-17.

The Spalding referee, who works as a butcher at Bennett Butchers on Winsover Road, is delighted to be back in action after missing out on officiating at Lakeside back at the start of this year.