By Richard Martin
LONDON (Reuters) - Fallon Sherrock's pioneering success story for women at the World Darts Championships came to a gallant end as she was beaten by Chris Dobey 4-2 on Friday in a partisan atmosphere in her favour at London's Alexandra Palace.
Sherrock made global headlines by beating Ted Evetts in the opening round to become the first woman to win a match at the sport's showpiece tournament and caused an even bigger stir by dumping out world number 11 Mensur Suljovic in the second round.
Fallon, a 2,000-1 outsider at the start of the event, has been dubbed 'Queen of the Palace' by tournament organisers and was the clear crowd favourite against world number 22 Dobey in the third round.
She got off to a flying start by taking the first set 3-1 and also won the third before Dobey levelled with a whitewash in the fourth set.
Dobey had a stronger three-dart average score of 101.09 to Fallon's 90.45 but was at first let down by his finishing, missing six darts at doubles to lose the first set.
He recovered his composure and comfortably saw out the match but the moment still belonged to Sherrock, who was serenaded by the infamously boisterous crowd as she bowed out of a tournament which she has well and truly shaken up.
"I enjoyed myself so much, I didn’t think this was ever possible. This is amazing, this whole experience has been unbelievable," she told Sky Sports, struggling to hear the reporter's questions among the deafening chants of her name.
Arriving on stage before the match to Katy Perry's hit tune 'Last Friday Night', Sherrock was given a rockstar's welcome by the predominantly male crowd, some of whom had come dressed up as her, while others wrote "Marry me Fallon" on placards.
"I think more people who never watched darts before are now getting interested in it," she added.
Dobey, by contrast, was greeted by boos every time he stepped up to take his shots and revealed afterwards he had worn earplugs to drown out the noise.
"It's not nice to be booed but who's going to shut up 3,000 people? I had earplugs in but could still hear it and it was great to play in an atmosphere like that," he said.
Dobey also paid tribute to Sherrock for the impact she has had on the sport in the last two weeks and said he welcomed the arrival of more female competitors in the future.
"I told her to enjoy the moment, she's a history-maker," he added.
Sherrock will collect 25,000 pounds ($32,715.00) in prize money, while Dobey is guaranteed at least 35,000 pounds for reaching the fourth round of the tournament, where the winner collects 500,000.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris and Christian Radnedge)