FAMILY GUY Michael Smith hopes to raise the Ally Pally roof on Monday – to keep one over his kids’ heads.
In the battle of the beards, Bully Boy was a cut above bushy-faced James Wade in a 6-3 win in the William Hill PDC World Darts Championship semi-finals.
The St Helens slinger has made no secret of how important the £500,000 winners’ jackpot would be to bank balance and future plans.
Darts has dramatically changed his life and allowed him to buy properties, one of which has been converted into a farm.
Yet should his fortunes dip on the oche and prize money suddenly goes down the drain, then he admits he could end up “homeless”
Smith, who keeps a passport photo of his wife and two boys in his wallet, said: “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.
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“I have to keep ready. It has been showing what I have been working on for the last 12 months has worked.”
Wade’s path to the semi-finals had been incredibly fortuitous – with one Covid bye in the third round and just FOUR 180s struck in the first three matches.
The pre-match three-dart average of 87.67 would have barely earned a win on the old BDO circuit let alone propel someone to the latter stage of this blue riband event.
Following a very public row with Sky Sports pundit Wayne Mardle and a dressing down for any oche doubters, there was plenty riding on Wade’s shoulders.
It is fair to say Wade came here with a point to prove, often labelled as the greatest player never to win a world title, and with three previous semi-final defeats on his CV.
SMITH TOOK EARLY ADVANTAGE
Smith, 31 won the first set in the decisive leg and then the second against the throw, averaging 119.14 and sealing it with a superb 114 outshot.
Wade, cheered on by former glamour model wife Sammi, gained confidence by winning the third set after Smith missed darts for a 3-0 lead.
The Machine hit 121 and then gave a Liam Gallagher-style ‘I’m-impressed-with-that’ celebration that got the fancy dress revellers up on their feet.
Wade, 38, should have levelled up at 2-2 but his wastefulness opened the door for Smith who moved 3-1 ahead in style.
Smith’s stranglehold of this final intensified with a 78 to take the fifth set and a 130 on the bullseye in the sixth.
Wade, to his credit, ensured it would not be a whipping and he made it interesting by winning two successive sets, one of which included a 160 checkout.
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But Smith booked his spot in a second world final thanks to double 10.
When he returns this evening to the stage, Smith will need to take some relaxants and keep his emotions in check.
He BROKE his non-throwing hand in a rage during a toilet break of his 2019 final defeat to Michael van Gerwen.
Smith added: “That was a tough game. I knew Wadey would push me. There was one set and I was hitting 180, 180, 180 and he won the set.
“It was about keeping my cool and lucky enough he messed up one shot. I had to keep my head and lucky it went in.
“I have worked hard for this. You are not gifted things in life. I don’t deserve this, I have worked hard for it. I have trusted my throw. I have some doubts.”
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