JACQUI Oatley’s cv is a list of firsts; first female commentator on Match Of The Day, first woman to present BBC Radio 5 Live’s flagship sports show Sportsweek and, in recent years, she has become the first female to present darts coverage in the UK.

Oatley made her name as a football broadcaster but it is her role as the face of ITV’s darts coverage that brings her to Glasgow this weekend. Today, the Ladbrokes World Series of Darts Finals begins at Braehead Arena in Glasgow and Oatley is fronting ITV’s coverage that will showcase the world’s best talent.

This is the third consecutive year that Glasgow has hosted the season-ending event but it is not merely the darts that Oatley is looking forward to.

“This is one of my favourite events to go to – I love it and I think that’s because of the atmosphere,” she told Herald Sport. “It’s so noisy, there’s such great fancy dress and it’s just a fantastic few days. Seeing it live is fantastic – it’s even better than watching it on television.

“I get on really well with [co-presenters] Chris Mason and Alan Warriner-Little both on and off camera and the whole ITV team are great so we have such a laugh. It’s so much fun and hopefully how much we’re enjoying it comes across on screen.”

Scotland’s two-time world champion Gary Anderson is top seed but with most of the big names in attendance, including reigning world champion Michael van Gerwen as well as Raymond van Barnevelde, it is almost impossible to predict who will emerge the champion.

However, with the Scottish crowd behind him, Anderson is likely to be a formidable force, something that Taylor had to contend with last year.

“The crowd can be quite partisan, especially when the Scottish players are on, and there was a bit of an edge to it last year,” recalls Oatley. “Phil Taylor was getting a bit of stick on account, partly at least, of being English. There were a few boos flying around but he gave as good as he got.”

Oatley is adamant that she does not have a favorite player but there are a few who she particularly loves watching. “I do like the pacy ones and the ones who have a smooth throw like Raymond van Barneveld and Michael Smith,” she said. “And character-wise, Mensur Suljovic has been brilliant for the sport.

“I think people thought, at first at least, that the fans might not take to him but in the space of a year, his personality has really come out. Darts needs personalities and there are so many good ones.”

Oatley’s first real sporting passion was football and her name will forever be etched into the history books following her first Match Of The Day commentary appearance in 2007. However, she has always been a darts fan and when the opportunity to present the ITV coverage arose, she couldn’t turn it down.

However, she admits that she was somewhat apprehensive about fronting a sport that is often seen as an often exclusively male pursuit. Her fears were entirely unfounded though. “When I first started, I didn’t know how I was going to be accepted to be honest,” she said.

“You hope you’ll be well received and I did a lot of research, but how do you ever know how the fans will react? But I’ve been amazed by the feedback – people have been so welcoming and there’s just a great vibe.”

Oatley’s presence highlights just how much has changed within darts in recent years. The days of women being something of an endangered species are long gone to such an extent that these days, over a third of the fans who attend darts events are female. The all-male stereotype is one, says Oatley, that is now a distant memory.

“I think a lot of people tend to think that darts crowds are guys who have come straight from the pub, but it’s absolutely not, there’s a real mixture of people,” she said.

“Last year, the cameras got a great shot of a granny in the crowd at Braehead – she was just so into it. It’s brilliant that there’s so many more women going along and I think it’s like that because it’s such a good night out.

“When I’m not working, I go with my friends and they love it too whether they’re into darts or not.

“There’s also a family enclosure and so there’s kids there and the sport is brilliant for disabled fans so the whole sport is really inclusive which is why, I think, it’s going from strength-to-strength.”

Oatley’s schedule is jam-packed, to say the least, but the experience she has had working within darts over the past few years has given her a taste for more and one thing she is sure of is that for as long as ITV will have her, she’ll be there. “I’d love to continue working in darts – as long as they keep asking me, I’ll keep doing it,” she said.

“And if they stop asking me, I’ll keep going to watch anyway. We all love the the places we go and ideally, we’d love to do even more tournaments. So we’ll see what happens.”

The Ladbrokes World Series of Darts Finals will be held from today until Sunday at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow, live on ITV4. For tickets, visit braehead-arena.co.uk or call 0844 499 1700