MELKSHAM teenager Tom Corke is hoping a set of arrows gifted to him by his idol James Wade can help him follow in the footsteps of one of the world’s top players.
The 14-year-old, who lives in Bowerhill and is a pupil at Melksham Oak School, is a member of the Bristol-based Steve Brown Darts Academy and last month made the final of the academy’s ‘Super 16’ tournament, despite only throwing his first competitive dart in May.
Wade, the second most successful player in Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) history, is the second cousin of Corke’s father Richard.
The youngster’s dream of becoming a professional player was inspired when he met ‘the Machine’ earlier this year, receiving a treasured souvenir of their meeting.
“Finding out that James Wade was my dad’s second cousin motivated me to want to be darts player and I want to be just like him,” said Corke.
“He’s from Aldershot and so are my family and in February, we went to a Premier League darts event and I got to go backstage to meet him.
“All of the famous players were there warming up and he gave me a set of darts which I use now. He’s my idol and I’ve had dreams about being a professional player.”
Corke’s performances at the academy have seen him picked for the British Darts Organisation’s (BDO) West of England U18s team and he could be en route for a spot on the PDC Youth Tour, for players aged 14-21.
Darts Academy players operate under a grading system with coloured shirts representing different ranks, in a similar fashion to martial arts belts.
Corke advanced from a white to a green shirt (the third rank of six) last season and players who earn a black shirt, the highest rank, could be in line to graduate to the Youth Tour.
He added: “If you get to a black shirt, you can get sponsored by the academy to go on the PDC Youth Tour.
“I’d love to do that because it’s a big thing to play on that tour. I train in my living room with the board we’ve got there and we play at home every night. I’m always playing and I want to work really hard at my darts.”