WITH his resignation letter signed, sealed and delivered, Kendal’s Tony Newell will begin a new chapter when he becomes a full-time darts player at the end of the month.
The 31-year-old will leave his job as a caretaker at Windermere School after an investor stepped forward and agreed to pay a fixed monthly sum, in return for a percentage of any winnings.
This deal will run until January 2016 and completes a remarkable transformation since the turn of the year when thoughts of a professional career were a distant dream.
Back in January, Newell navigated Q School and secured a two-year spot on the PDC circuit, becoming one of only 128 holders of a much sought-after tour card.
Newell has already claimed some prized scalps in his time in the darting spotlight, but with work commitments soon to be a thing of the past, he is targeting plenty more.
“It’s incredible how life changes,” he said. “Around Christmas time I went to a couple of local comps and was just playing those.
“I’d decided to do Q School but more for experience than anything else, see what level I was at, not really thinking of career.
“It’s all come so quickly and it’s a fantastic opportunity, I never envisaged it all at. When people ask now what I do for a living, I say I’m a professional darts player.
“After Crawley I felt I needed this to happen otherwise it might all get a bit too much for me. It will enable me to practice through the week for five or six hours a day.
“I can also improve my preparation for tournaments. Travel down in decent time rather than rushing around last minute.
“Now I can give my all, hopefully these last 64s and 32s will turn into last 16s, last eights, last fours and who knows, maybe a couple of finals.”
The latest stages of the Players Championship in Wigan saw Newell beaten 6-2 by 28th seed Vincent van der Voort in round seven before swelling the prize money pot in round eight.
After a first-round 6-2 victory against Sweden’s Magnus Caris, Newell then came unstuck against Terry Jenkins, losing 6-5 after missing double top for victory.
“Vincent is a class player and he’s that quick a thrower that when the first one goes in, the other two are there before you’ve even blinked,” he added.
“I played well but when someone wins like that you’ve just got to hold your hands up and say fair enough.
“I was 5-0 up against Magnus and won 6-2 before Terry broke me early, which happened when I played him down in Crawley.
“On that occasion, he fired on and I couldn’t catch him but this time I managed to break back despite him starting four of five legs with 180s.
“It went all the way to the last leg. I had 79 left but just missed double top with my last dart to win and he checked out.
“Overall though these latest rounds were the best I’ve played just not my best results. I feel it’s all starting to come together.”
Newell – currently ranked 109th in the PDC Order of Merit – also made his debut in the European Tour qualifier, losing 6-5 to Adam Hunt, but again has no qualms with his performance levels.
“I finished work on Friday and then it was straight on the train at Windermere to Wigan and then into action so it was not ideal preparation,” he said.
“I played well again but just didn’t kill it off when 5-2 up. I’m disappointed with the result but that’s it. In fairness, I was happy with my showing throughout the weekend.”