Forgotten Darters: Shaun ‘Nine Dart Man’ Greatbatch’s history making 2002 Dutch Open

In this column we regularly reminisce about a 'forgotten darter' from the past. Today it's the turn of the Englishman Shaun Greatbatch, who made history in 2002 by being the first ever to throw a nine-darter live on television.

Darts fans got to know Greatbatch for the first time at the 2001 BDO World Championship, in the opening round he went down 3-0 against Ted Hankey. The following year, he was unable to qualify for the World Championship, but just after that, he caused sensation at the Dutch Open. Not only did he win the title by beating Steve Coote in the final, he was also the first-ever to throw a nine-darter live on television.

Mother-son combination

Greatbatch still holds a record. His mother Sandra reached the semifinals of the World Championship in 2002 and so they are the only mother-son combination ever both to have played at a World Championship, albeit not in the same year.

Greatbatch won the Swedish Open and Denmark Open in the following years, but it would take until 2006 before he managed to win a World Championship match. At the Lakeside Country Club he consecutively defeated Niels de Ruiter, Per Laursen and Paul Hanvidge before he lost in the semi-finals to the eventual World Champion Jelle Klaasen.

Bone marrow cancer

He was also present at the 2007 and 2008 World Championship, but did not get further than the second round. In 2008, tragedy struck when he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. He lost all his hair, a lot of weight and shrank about four inches. Still, he managed to qualify for the 2009 World Championship. In the opening round, he lost 3-0 against John Walton, but afterwards a very moving scene took place. When he left the stage, all players and officials present formed a guard of honor for him. Greatbatch was visibly moved by this show of sympathy.

Greatbatch retired in 2009 and underwent another stem cell transplant in 2018. The now 51-year-old Englishman is currently doing well.

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