Exmouth darts player Paul Milford gets England national team call-up

PUBLISHED: 09:19 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:36 13 February 2019

Exmouth darts ace Paul Milford in action. Picture PIETER VERBEEK

Exmouth darts ace Paul Milford in action. Picture PIETER VERBEEK

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Exmouth dart player Paul Milford has become only the second ever home-grown player from Devon to be selected for the England national team following his section for the forthcoming Home Internationals, writes Steve Birley.

Exmouth darts ace Paul Milford who has been selected to play for England. Picture MARK WALDRONExmouth darts ace Paul Milford who has been selected to play for England. Picture MARK WALDRON

Paul, who has lived all his 42 years to date in Exmouth, did not take up darts until he was 21. Until that age he was a competent pool and snooker player. Indeed, he has a snooker ‘high break’ of 78 to his name, underlining how competent he was on the green baize.

As to why he made the switch to the oche – he’s really not sure, as he explained, saying: “I used to enjoy my pool and snooker and I genuinely cannot remember what inspired me to throw a dart.”

When Paul, more affectionately known as ‘Milly’ in dart circles, pulls on the national team shirt he will follow in the footsteps of Plymouth’s Cliff ‘Ticker’ Inglis, who is the only other Devonian to be selected for the England team.

Trevor Perry, the Mid Devon-based darts aficionado (and a fine player on the oche himself), takes up the story of the Milford international call-up.

He says: “Paul [Milford] is certainly someone you would call quiet and unassuming. Indeed, he is someone who shuns the limelight. However, I don’t doubt he was so proud when he received news of the England call-up.”

Perry continues: “In terms of his right to be picked, on current form Paul sits in second position on the BDO Inter-Counties averages with a played five and won five record and a most impressive 29.97 overall per dart average. There can be no question this was the right decision by the EDO.”

It was Perry, who, alongside other selectors Paul Godbeer and Ian Knight, gave Milford his Devon County debut during the 2001-2002 season.

Perry says: “In the 18 years since his Devon call-up, the records show that with his latest appearance – in last weekend’s Devon versus Dorset meeting in Heavitree, Exeter – ‘Milly’ will have amassed 130 county appearances in total, with 76 of them being wins.

“Only 14 other male players have reached the magical century mark with Milly currently sitting in equal fifth position alongside Matt Dickinson, having passed one Exmouth legend of darts, Kevin Hardy (125), at the beginning of the season and he is now chasing down another, Andy Steed, who sits on 158.

“Not a lot of people know that all of Paul’s achievements are against a backdrop from about 12 years ago when Milly suffered badly from the scourge of dartitis, which has put paid to many a dart player over the years.

“Not him though. I witnessed and supported Paul at close hand as he worked unbelievably hard in practice and never gave up the belief that he could beat it.

“Milly has a very deliberate upright robotic stance, which is something that he developed to help overcome his problem, and Paul Godbeer, Ian Knight and yours truly kept picking him for Devon.

“I was proud to see a testament to his inner self-belief and dedication paid off. What a truly great story this is and I am so pleased for such a nice man too. Take a bow,Mr Paul Milford, England international!”

Back to Paul himself and, when asked about the desperate time he had as he battled dartitis, he said: “They were grim days and I lost count of the times I was close to despair in terms of feeling that ‘I’d never get my throw back’. I tried everything from a visit to a hypnotist, to changing my darts and my foot position and, eventually, the perseverance paid off and I actually became a better player once I had waved goodbye to the dreaded scourge of players that is dartitis.”

Forty-two-year-old Paul celebrated his England selection by helping Devon to a 19-17 victory over Dorset when the teams met in an inter-county Division One match at Heavitree, Exeter last weekend.

Paul was named Man of the Weekend for his overall performance, which saw him maintain his season-long unbeaten run for the county!

Having won the last three matches of the 2017-18 season, Paul has now won nine consecutive games this season and if he can complete the campaign unbeaten then he will equal two long-standing records which are currently shared by Trevor Perry and Andy Steed.

The last time a Devon County men’s player won nine out of nine in a season was 22 years ago when Exmouth dart player Andy Steed achieved the feat.

It is highly likely that, in 12 months’ time, Devon – and Exmouth – will be celebrating a new record for it’s then that Paul, if he keeps winning, will have set that new best of 18 wins – and, who knows, maybe more!

Quiet and unassuming, Paul Milford may well appear, but he comes across as a very level-headed chap who has plumbed the depths of his sport in terms of battling dartitis to now stand set to represent his country as an international darts player – we wish him well – and don’t doubt that he will prove to be a big success.

Paul is keen to attract sponsorship and anyone who might be able to help in that department is asked to get in touch with him via his Facebook page, Paul Milford PDC darts.

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