St Helens' Joe Batchelor plans double world glory for darts ace Michael Smith

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St Helens
St Helens' Joe Batchelor plans double world glory for darts ace Michael Smith

He is living one fairytale but new PDC world champion Michael Smith might have to wait a little longer for his dream with beloved St Helens to come true.

“Bully Boy” claimed his first world title and became the world’s new No.1 after Tuesday night’s epic Ally Pally success over three-time champion Michael van Gerwen. He pocketed half-a-million pounds in the process and became only the second player in history to hit a nine-dart finish in the showpiece final. Rugby league nut Smith, 32, hails from St Helens and is a massive fan of the Super League champions.

And now he can’t wait to visit the Totally Wicked Stadium and show off his silverware. Smith tweeted : “One thing I really want to do and would love to do is stand on the halfway line with the boys with the League Leaders and Grand Final trophy on their side and the GSOD (Grand Slam of Darts) and World Champs on mine with that mighty Red V in background.”

Proud Saints are happy to oblige although first they have their own tilt at world glory coming up. They open their season by heading Down Under next month to face NRL champions Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge.

And England second-row Joe Batchelor said: “That would be the peak if we can add that trophy and have two world titles alongside each other. That’s what we’re going out there to do and that’s what we’ve got our eyes set on. Hopefully we can hold that photo off and do it a bit later on when there’s an extra one to shoot.”

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St Helens' Joe Batchelor plans double world glory for darts ace Michael SmithSt Helens' Joe Batchelor scores a try (PA)

Batchelor, 28, added: “I’ve spoken to Michael a couple of times and he is a huge Saints fan. He’s a regular at games and he’s up in the lounge afterwards with all the families. We’ve all said ‘hello’ to him and he’s such a big presence around town. A few of the lads are close with him and he’s definitely one of us. I’m delighted he got the win.”

Saints have won the last four Grand Finals and Smith showed that champion class in a stunning final of his own. He completed a perfect leg in the second set, during a sensational leg in which van Gerwen missed his own attempt at double 12 for a nine-darter.

St Helens' Joe Batchelor plans double world glory for darts ace Michael SmithMichael Smith celebrates with the Sid Waddell trophy (PA)

Batchelor, back pre-season training this week after being on World Cup duty, said: “That’s the pinnacle of darts - doing a nine-darter like that.

“Watching Michael do it was incredible. As a sportsman, you relate to him with the mentality needed to get in that zone. But I just thought the whole match was gripping. I was on the edge of my seat, grabbing my pillow - hiding behind it at times! It was so intriguing and with so much on the line I’m so glad he got the win especially knowing how hard he’s worked after previous disappointments.”

David Craven

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