By Phil Lanning
At The Ally Pally
MICHAEL SMITH vowed “this is my chance” after blasting his way into a second World Championship final.
The St.Helens hurler delivered a crushing display to dump James Wade 6-4 at the Ally Pally last night.
It’s a fairytale return to the big stage for ‘Bully Boy’ who was discovered and mentored by Scots Gary Anderson and manager Tommy Gilmour MBE.
After his powerhouse win over Wade, Smith vowed: “I knew he was going push me. It was about keeping my cool. He messed up a 130 and I knew it I had to take it out.
“You are not gifted things in life, I’ve worked hard for it. I started to doubt myself one or two times.
“I’m not fussed who I play. Gary is a really good friend. I don’t really mind, it’s just about what I do. I am confident whatever game that I play in.
“After the first game against Ron Meulenkamp or the second against Willie O’Connor, you have to be confident because if you are not you will get beat.
“I have to keep myself focused and ready. It has been showing what I have been working on for the last 12 months. This is my chance.”
Smith crucial won the first set, taking out double four in a deciding leg, the perfect psychological boost.
Bully Boy looked far more deadly and fluid, sealing set two with some ease and an impressive 114 checkout.
However, typical of Wade, he kept plodding away and produced an excellent 121 finish to snatch the crucial third set.
Smith then came back from two legs down to grab the fourth set and then took full control with a 78 finish after Wade fluffed his lines again to lead 4-1.
Wade then produced a bit of magic with a 160 to keep his hopes alive and then pegged another set back to trail 5-3. But finally Smith wrapped it up with double 10.
Three years ago Smith was wiped out by Michael van Gerwen 7-3 in the final and even broke his hand after punching a toilet door DURING the match.
He added: “I went into that Final thinking I’d won it. I knew I was playing Michael van Gerwen who was on ridiculous form at that time, but if you looked at the stats, I was winning everything.
“He beat me but I had darts to win six of the sets. If I had the belief and what I think now, I might not have missed them.
“But I’ve said that’s the past. The only thing I can change is the future. Hopefully, I can win and rectify 2019 and live a childhood dream.”
Smith reckons his new calm approach is down to looking at pictures of his kids which he keeps on the stage table.
He added: “I have both their passport photos stuck in my darts case. In my wallet in my pocket.
“Even a year ago, I’d given up, but we’d just bought a new house and the money I shell out every month on mortgages, I can’t afford to give darts away and lose matches.
“If I miss mortgages, we’re out on the streets. We are homeless. I knows it adds added pressure, but it’s keeping me focused.”
Images by Taylor Lanning.