FIRST we saw the rise of Jonny Wilkinson, then Justin Rose. Now we have produced another new young star ready to take his sport by storm.

James Wade may be just 19 years old, but he is already being tipped by many as the new Eric Bristow, the golden boy of the oche, after a best ever season on the European circuit.

It's an astonishing story of a quiet young man from Ash who had suddenly leapt his way to 19th in the world rankings and on the verge of gracing the Lakeside stage in January for the 26th Embassy World Darts Championships — aiming to be the youngest ever Briton to do so.

Wade's rapid rise through the dart charts has captured the attention of the world.

Relatively unknown to his European competitors earlier in the season, Wade is now respected among the big fish — especially after achieving his best ever result — and a place in the history books — last weekend.

After an almost impossible draw in the Swiss Open Men's Singles championship, Wade somehow worked his way through double Embassy World champion Raymond Barneveld and Lakeside favourites Co Stompe and Wayne Mardle to meet fellow Hampshire county team-mate Colin Monk in the final.

Wade stormed into a 2-0 lead but Monk hit back to draw level before the youngster showed grit beyond his years to finish the match off with a blistering two legs to nil victory in the deciding set to become the youngest ever winner of a major BDO (British Darts Association) ranking event.

The eight ranking points from this victory takes his total for the season to 11, and it's widely considered that he may need just one more quarter-final appearance from his six remaining tournaments to be sure of Embassy qualification.

And despite his tender age, he is no stranger to the big stage. He revels in it, in fact.

In last year's British Classic, he became the youngest ever BDO finalist, eventually losing out to 2001 Embassy World champion John ‘Boy' Walton in the final having despatched Mervyn King and Ronnie Baxter along the way.

Wade is the BDO's little gem, and they're desperate to keep hold of him. His recent form is proof that their Inter-County system is working well to produce stars of the future like James.

Not only was he named Boy's Player of the Year for the 2000/01 season, but Wade also took the county scene by storm, winning eight of his nine games for the successful Hampshire A side and finishing in an incredible third place in the BDO's top 150 averages with 30.51, leapfrogging Walton into fourth!

Elsewhere, on the BDO scene, a last 16 placing in the Scottish Open and a last 32 in the German Open, has stood him in good stead for an eagerly-awaited Lakeside debut and a chance to prove his worth to the watching millions.

Wade said: "The win in Switzerland has really set me up now. It's the highlight of what's been a brilliant season for me, now I'm looking not only to compete in the Embassy, but to win it!

"I've always been confident about my own ability but now I know I can do it on the big stage.

"My attentions now are turned to the English Open next week and I reckon I'll need three points to guarantee my qualification for the Embassy. That, obviously, is the aim but the way I'm feeling at the moment, I'll be looking to earn more than that.

"I have a lot to thank my mum, dad and girlfriend Katie for, who have been magnificent, and, of course, my sponsor, because without them, I wouldn't be in this position now."

Wade's rise to the top this season not only has his family singing from every rooftop, but has also prompted the BDO to step in and guide their most prized asset.

Robert Holmes, PR consultant for the BDO, labels Wade as a name to watch for the future, and can't help comparing him to the man who put darts on the sporting calendar.

He said: "Every time I see James, I think Eric Bristow. He's got that cocky arrogance about his play, he's not frightened of anyone and just goes about his business in his own way.

"Great talents like this come along every few years but I've never seen one quite like James. He has enormous potential and that certain something to separate him from the rest — a bit like Mr Bristow.

"James has got it all to become a big name player, I'm sure of it. It's very exciting for the BDO to have a player like this. It's our job now to help him keep his feet on the ground and make the most out of his rare talent."

Wade has now got a crucial period coming up with some big tournaments still left on the calendar and vital ranking points up for grabs.

Next weekend sees him travel to Brean Sands for the English Open before he takes on the British Classic at Kettering and UK Open in Wales.

He then jets off to Scandinavia for the Norwegian and Danish Opens before he commences his season for Hampshire in September.

Victory in the Swiss Open has also guaranteed his place in the Winmau World Masters at Lakeside in December.

Even more closer to home, Wade is naturally causing a stir also on the local scene.

He has already helped lead Ash Football Club to the Friday Night Dart League championship and is doing wonders for The Cricketers team in Tongham at the top of the 1001 League.

And James has also reached the last eight of the Alfie Wade Memorial Trophy — a singles title competed in memory of his grandfather, which is keen to regain after his victory in 2000.

But while his family and friends deserve utmost credit for helping to nurture James through the psychological element of the world stage, it's really the work of his sponsors, Jason Thame and Darrell Hollis of Byfleet-based flooring specialists Charles Harrison, which has proved the important cog to his wheel.

Without their financial support, James would have to concentrate solely on tournaments this side of the shore, and maybe then the darts world would be robbed of its potential new Bristow.