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Article: The Rise of Jonny Clayton

The Rise of Jonny Clayton

Jonny Clayton’s rise to PDC World Cup winner for Wales, PDC Masters and now the 2021 PDC Premier League Champion is for many one of the sport’s most incredible journey ever witnessed.

TV major success in the last 12 months has been just rewards for Jonny’s dedication to the game throughout the years and his rise from the grass-roots of Welsh darts.

In 2008, family man and keen rugby player Jonny started to venture into more formal ranked competitions; the Pembrokeshire Open, the Welsh National Championships, County and superleague darts and it wasn’t long before the West Wales darts community knew that they’d seen a very special player in Jonny. Notably through his county darts career Jonny made 57 appearances for Pembrokeshire, winning an impressive 49 matches.

It was this county form that soon saw Jonny recognised with his first Welsh international cap in 2010, then appearing at the 2012 WDF Europe Cup where he was part of the passionate Welsh team, making it all the way to the Europe Cup Singles semi-final against what was then a list of who’s who of international darts.

Jonny continued to work hard and play more darts as rugby faded away, and his talents were again called upon by Wales in the 2013 World Cup in Canada, where Jonny impressed many with his never-say-die approach to the game.

Clayton didn’t have to wait long for major success with his country, where he again played a leading role in helping Wales lift the 2014 WDF Europe Cup title, and it was this passion to play for his country and do outstanding things at key moments that made him stand out as a special talent.

Martin Phillips, Welsh Team Captain and stalwart said, “When Jonny got his first Wales cap he was so excited, and his energy ran through the whole team lifting everyone around him as he’s such a nice bloke, but when he steps up on the oche he has only one thing in mind and that’s to win.”

John Williams, WDO Chairman added, “Jonny was always rock solid as a player and even better as a person - the whole of the Welsh darts community is ecstatic at seeing him come from real grass roots darts where he learnt his trade, and then to carry it on at the highest level in the World is simply breath-taking.”

Jonny took the decision to have a go at the PDC Q-school after much persuasion from those around him, including family and very close friends like Mark Lewis, Jamie Lewis’ father.

Mark said “The first time I ever saw Jonny throw it was crystal clear he was an outstanding talent, but more so at his determination to win, yet brush it off calmly if he lost, which still remains his superpower.”

After securing his PDC tour card at the first attempt in 2015, Jonny’s next chapter began, and in typical Jonny fashion he went about it spreading a smile to all around him, yet very much still under the radar.

Jonny said “My first year on the PDC was amazing as I even qualified for the Grand Slam of Darts, but it soon became clear to me just how hard it is to win on the PDC as 2016 started with a bit of a slump, but I knew that if I kept playing and just finishing better I’d be on the right side of more favourable results.”

Jonny wasn’t to know that his first real big solo event win was so close, as he claimed the 2016 Worthington’s Champion of Champions title against Tony Darlow in the final. “The Ferret” battled through a strong field of 256 players in the cut-throat best of 3 format. This win seemed to catapult Jonny who went on his best run of form on the PDC, reaching the 2017 World Championships and claiming his first PDC Pro Tour victory.

Looking back Jonny commented, “It all looks so clean-cut when you see it on paper but I was just turning up, playing my darts, going home and enjoying life with my family and work. The results just seemed to get a bit better as I went on and with it my belief that I could go on to better things.”

Jonny’s career defining moment at that time came when he partnered the rampant Gerwyn Price in Wales colours at the 2020 PDC World Cup of Darts, where they demolished the rest of the World to claim the title for their country.

Winning for Wales has always been Jonny’s leading ambition, which was plain to see in his delight when they lifted the trophy, and from this point forward Jonny became one of the World’s most dangerous players, claiming two more major TV titles in 2021.

Simon Hall, Red Dragon Marketing Director, said “From the first day that Mark Lewis brought Jonny to my attention, we’ve never looked back, as his natural talent has risen year-on-year. Yet what remains so amazing about Jonny is that he is still the nicest guy you could ever wish to meet.

“A humble approach to life and a grounded work ethic means he deserves every success he achieves and we are eternally grateful that he crossed our threshold that day 6 years ago.”

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