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League Two

Wez Newton: A darts player on the up, supporting a team on the up

18 October 2012

After five promotions in seven years, Fleetwood Town are in The Football League and sit fourth after 12 games in their maiden voyage in League 2.

One man who has followed them throughout their rise - from being North West Counties Champions in 2005, to promotion to The Football League in 2012 - is professional darts player Wez Newton.

"As a youngster I used to sit on the park gates and try and watch it for free," the 35-year-old said.

"I have always looked out for Fleetwood and gone to games, regardless of what division they have been in. Over the last seven or eight years it has really taken off, though."

Their most recent success was last season's Blue Square Premier division triumph, which saw the Cod Army amass 103 points and score 102 goals, from their 46 league matches.

The momentum from being crowned champions of the non-league top flight has seemingly stayed with them and, like Crawley Town and Stevenage have done in the past, they look set to challenge at the top end of npower League 2 this term.

"This year I just hoped they would hold their own but, at the minute, they are in the Play-Off places," Newton, a Highbury season ticket holder, added, "If they go up again, it will be frightening, but I'm sure we're ready for it.

"I'm extremely proud of how far the club have come, as is everyone in the town. If we can keep on getting higher then that's brilliant but we're all just enjoying being on the Fleetwood promotion train at the minute."

While the Fylde coast club have been steaming their way up the football pyramid, The Warrior, as he is nicknamed, has been working his way up the Darts ladder.

Last weekend, he reached the semi-final of the World Grand Prix which took him to fifth in the PDC Order of Merit. Despite losing out to eventual winner Michael van Gerwen in Dublin, Newton remained upbeat.

"I'm back in the top five in the world now and it was another live TV major semi-final under my belt, so there was plenty of positives to take from it.

"In the semi-final, Michael was a far better player than me and he deserved to win - he was on fire, and I'm glad he won the tournament in the end.

"Overall, the darts is good at the minute. It has all come together well, my form is good and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in with the rest of the tournaments this year.

"It's always hard work, you have to put the hours in every day but it's part of the job - you only get out what you put in, like any other job."

His busy schedule sees him travel to Ireland next, then on to Holland for a European Championship, which means no visit to Highbury for the upcoming clash against AFC Wimbledon.

He manages to keep up with the Cod Army whilst on the road, though, and football is never too far away when on tour.

"When I'm away I keep up using the internet on my phone and then, if I'm playing in England, I'll sit down after playing darts to watch The Football League Show on a Saturday night.

"Most of the lads on the darts tour are football fans - the majority support high-profile clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal but there's a few who support Football League clubs.

"Phil Taylor is a Port Vale fan and when we played them earlier in the season they won 5-2 and he gave me a bit of stick. Hopefully it will be my turn next time they play.

"The darts is now becoming more like a football match. The crowd now sing throughout, it's not like back in the 80s when you had to be quiet when the players were throwing, and then just shout in between throws.

"It's constant now and it's really loud - just like being at a football match. It's hard at first getting used to the noise but the more you play, the more you feel comfortable with it.

"When everything is going well, and you're winning, it doesn't bother you at all. When the world is on top of you, though, all the concentration goes."

Whether he wins or loses on tour, the dad-of-one will be straight back to Highbury when he returns home to Fleetwood.

And that's not just for the football, either.

"When you go to the football, particularly in my case, being away so much, you get to see all the faces that you haven't seen for a while. It gives me a chance to catch up with everyone.

"People at the club know where I am, what I'm doing and where I'm off to next. I had a feature in the matchday programme recently, and I get people asking me to sign their programmes - which is good, I really enjoy it.

"Everybody in the town is certainly embracing The Football League and the whole town is getting involved, which is good to see.

"While I'm playing darts against the players I used to watch on TV when I was a kid, Fleetwood are doing the same in football, playing in The Football League."

Photo courtesy of Craig Skelton

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