Another of our 10 players of the decade. It is a pleasure to include a female player with no fear that it may be considered tokenism. The Lancashire Rose has knocked down many doors already and I don’t believe she has finished yet:
With the recent, much deserved, attention given to Mikuru Suzuki, and Fallon Sherrock, there is a danger that the huge contribution of Lisa Ashton may be overshadowed. We should very much hope not.
During the 2010’s the four time World Champion cranked up her performances and captured every title available to her time and time again. ‘The Lancashire Rose’ seems to have at least a hatrick of every major event. This was achieved against a back drop of rising standards and a broadening of women’s darts.
Instead of only few high quality players, as had been the case in previous decades, there were more and more as the decade progressed. Veteran stars such as Deta Hedman seemed to improve and consolidate while new youngsters like Sherrock and Zoe Jones came through. Ashton still dominated.
The forty-nine year old English thrower had risen to prominence at the end of the previous decade and claimed her first notable title in 2008. She seemed to really step up a gear in 2011 and claimed first the English national championships and then the Winmau World Masters. In 2012 she defended both titles and reached her first World final, defeated by Anastasia, at the start of 2013. Lisa corrected the obvious ommission from her trophy cabinet in 2014, winning the World title and reversing the defeat to Anastasia of twelve months before. Ashton dominated womens darts from that point on. She is now four time world champion (and in a fifth final) in addition to the multiple trophies from the other majors.
After the best part of five years domination of, BDO/WDF, Women’s darts, rule changes enabled Lisa to take on a new challenge and test herself in a new way. In 2019 she began to play PDC events on a level playing field with players of both sexes. She was not alone in making the attempt, and others have tried before her, and it seemed that something had tipped for the ladies’ game.
First, Ashton took advantage of an offer from the PDC to attempt qualification for the World Championship in 2018. After claiming her place she made her Ally Pally in the 2018/19 event. She started her first round clash impressively and emerged with great credit and popularity. She then to the attended the PDC Q School event and attempt to gain a professional Tour Card. Although ultimately unsuccessful, she reached the last sixteen twice and finished high enough to remove any further doubts as to her ability to compete.
Ashton then opted to combine the BDO Women’s game with the Challenge Tour of the PDC. She has acquitted herself strongly and gained wins from her first game (Toon Greebe). She has repeatedly reached the last 16 stage of these events and defeated players of both sexes and all ranks and degrees of fame.
Although, the last year has been less successful, in terms of the Women’s game, Ashton has also demonstrated that it is possible to straddle codes and both ‘Open’ & Ladies darts. Lisa has now played in the World Championships and The Grand Slam of Darts (PDC) as well as the Women’s World Championship, and World Masters etc, within the BDO system.
It is almost impossible to calculate or overestimate the importance of Lisa Ashton to darts. The next decade may see a huge explosion in multi gender darts at all levels and across all codes.
‘The Lancashire’ Rose may well have been the catalyst for it all. She way well be one of the most important players of the modern era, let alone this decade.