'It's a complete 180 but I love it': Former darts world champion earning £9 an hour stacking shelves at Co-op

28 February 2023, 19:37 | Updated: 1 March 2023, 00:55

John Walton with Dan Walker
John Walton with Dan Walker. Picture: Twitter

By Kit Heren

A former darts world champion who has gone from nine-darters to £9 an hour stacking shelves has said he loves his new job.

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John 'John Boy' Walton, 58, won the BDO World Darts Championship in 2001, but was forced to retire with a neck injury several years later.

He began working in a Co-op in his hometown of Sheffield, where he stacks shelves. Mr Walton, who won several other tournaments in his career including the World Masters in 2001, said of his new job: "It’s a complete 180, but I love it.”

Mr Walton was recently recognised at the store by TV presenter Dan Walker.

Describing meeting Mr Walker, he said: "We looked at each other, we both recognised each other – it was quite surreal.

Mr Walton en route to his World Championship title in 2001
Mr Walton en route to his World Championship title in 2001. Picture: Alamy

"I couldn’t remember his name at the time but he knew mine.

“He asked me where the ice cream cones were but we had sold out.”

Mr Walton earned £46,000 for the world championship win in 2001, where he was an outsider. But he beat his more fancied competitors Marko Pusa, Wayne Mardle and Ted Hankey to claim an unlikely victory.

He was unable to replicate his dramatic success in the rest of his career, although he reached several quarter-finals and a semi-final.

John Walton in 2009
John Walton in 2009. Picture: Alamy

Mr Walton was later forced to retire, telling the Sunday Mirror: "I couldn’t play in tournaments because I wasn’t cutting it. I’ve been at the Co-op for two years now.

Read more: Police say 'enquiries ongoing' after TV presenter Dan Walker hit by car while riding bike

Read more: Former world darts champion Ted Hankey, 54, charged with sexual assault

"I work part-time, one or two days a week. It’s not a financial thing, it’s just... to keep me occupied.

“I’ve struck up a load of friendships, and it’s nice to give something back to the community.”

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