January 18, 2020
At a Wigan leisure centre hundreds of hopefuls, from ex-pros to chancers, face a gruelling race to claim a place on the PDC tour
Delusions, chaos and a shot at a new life at Q-School, darts’ dream factory | Jonathan Liew
The little girl in the blue leotard grips her mother’s hand tightly, but her gaze is elsewhere. She is spellbound, perhaps even a little baffled, by the tableau she has just glimpsed on her way to gymnastics practice at the Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan. There, the large space she usually knows as the tennis hall is instead occupied by several hundred people, most of them middle-aged men in loud shirts, very few of them – if we’re being blunt – the usual leisure centre clientele. There’s a Body Combat class taking place in the sports hall and a sprint session going on in the cycle studio. But here, for this week only, the dream factory is in town.
From the moment the doors opened at 8am, the queue quickly stretched out into the car park. They have come from all parts: former champions and pub chancers, future icons and fallen idols, county stalwarts and armchair aspirants, in pursuit of a better life. Win one of the Professional Darts Corporation’s coveted tour cards and a lucrative new career awaits. But to do so, they’ll need to see off 500 rivals in the ruthless four-day marathon of Q-School.
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