Luke Littler swept into the world darts final with the support of his beloved Warrington Wolves ringing in his ears.
Super League stars Josh Thewlis and Matty Ashton – as well as the club’s mascot ‘Wolfie’ – were present at Ally Pally to cheer the 16-year-old through his emphatic semi-final win over Rob Cross.
The duo, who presented Littler with a Wolves shirt emblazoned with ‘Littler 180’ on the back, were forced to zip straight back up the M6 for the start of post-season training on Wednesday.
But they marvelled at Littler’s composure on the oche, with Thewlis telling the PA news agency: “It must be pretty daunting for a 16-year-old to be up there on the big stage on his own.
“When I was 16 I was still turning up to training feeling star-struck by everyone, but I had 12 other blokes with me on the field who I knew would be able to help me out.
“Somehow Luke seems to be taking it all in his stride. Any other person in his position would be quite nervous, but he’s so chilled out and genuinely excited by it all.”
Littler has posed with a series of Premier League footballers during his run to the Ally Pally final, but his heart lies with the Wolves where he has been a season-ticket holder for the last four years.
And, having recently renewed his regular seat for the 2024 campaign, he appears to have no intention of using some of his six-figure winnings to splash out on a £15,000 executive box to watch the games in comfort.
Wolves and England star Ashton is no stranger to live darts action and often heads to the big events with his brothers when his rugby league schedule allows.
Ashton, a regular at the World Matchplay tournament in Blackpool, also hailed Littler’s composure and the impact he is likely to make on his home town, where sporting heroes – Wolves excepted – are in short supply.
“It’s great to have someone from the town and so close to the club doing so well,” said Ashton. “Darts is a massive sport and the whole place is really rooting for him.
“When I was 16 I don’t think I would have coped. I’m 25 years old now and I’m still getting used to some sort of media attention. What Luke is experiencing is something else and we’re all so pleased for him.”