He goes by the nickname of ‘Rockstar’ and at the age of just 22, Joe Cullen is set for a massive future in the world of the Professional Darts Corporation.
In June 2009, we really got an idea of Cullen’s immense talent and potential, when the youngster came agonisingly close to reaching a final on the PDC Pro Tour.
At the German Darts Trophy in Dinslaken, he was edged out by the eventual winner Andy Smith in the semi-finals – going down by 6 legs to 3 after a dream run, when he claimed several big scalps.
He beat Mark Dudbridge (6-5), Tony Eccles by the same score, Alan Tabern 6-4 in the last 16 and Vincent van der Voort 6-4 in the quarter-finals.
Against ‘The Pie Man’, Cullen actually led 3-2 but Smith then won four consecutive legs to end the dream.
But that one tournament proved to all the top professionals that Cullen is here to stay and that he is a real threat…..on top of that, the £1,500 prize money came in handy as he tries to qualify for the big TV ‘Majors’ through the Players Championship Order of Merit.
And Cullen has taken the big decision to quit his job as a postman to become a full-time darts professional.
“It was becoming very difficult to juggle work and darts,” he explained. “Yes, it is a gamble but as well as Unicorn, I got a really good sponsorship deal with Precision Sports Management and I knew this opportunity wouldn’t come around again, so I took the plunge.”
He certainly has that unique gift which so many darts players crave – that of natural ability and he believes in that ability.
“I really think that I can be World Champion one day, otherwise what is the point of playing the tour, putting in the miles and striving to achieve? It is my dream,” he said.
His brilliant performance in Dinslaken is the big highlight so far but he has also reached the last 16 of a UK Open Regional event, where he lost 6-3 to Raymond van Barneveld.
“I have played against all the big names except Taylor,” he said. “I can’t wait for that because he is where I strive to be.”
For now, the goal is to qualify for the World Championship and he is handily placed to do that through the Players Championship Order of Merit.
From nowhere, Cullen is now on the verge of breaking into the top 100 in the world, so he looks nailed on to claim one of the PDC’s new tour card slots, which will guarantee entry into all the Pro Tour events…. but his transformation into one of the best young guns in the tungsten world came by a stroke of luck…..being in the right place at the right time! Not bad, when you consider that he only started playing darts when he was nearly 17!
Cullen takes up the story: “Back in 2008, I walked into my local – the Halfway House in Bradford and there was a knock-out tournament on. I didn’t know what it was but my mates got me to enter. It turned out to be a Holsten pub qualifier for the UK Open Finals at Bolton!”
“That win took me to the Holsten regional final in Batley and I won that as well – beating Mark Robinson 5-0 in the final and that got me to the Reebok.”
And he made a quite an impression in Bolton – so much so, that Unicorn signed him up after the tournament!
Cullen beat Mark Stephenson and Dennis Smith, before losing to Chris Mason by 9 legs to 5. However, it was a sign of what was to come.
He also reached the final of the New Kids on the Oche tournament, which was screened on NUTS TV, but lost to Arron Monk. The 3-0 scoreline doesn’t really tell the story, because Cullen missed three darts at double in the first and third legs and over a short format, that cost him dearly.
Away from darts, Joe lives with partner Toni and young son Travis in Bradford and he is a keen footballer and supports Manchester United.
There are many experts in the world of darts who are convinced that Cullen is the real deal….now, he has to prove it!