Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind bar

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Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind bar
Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind bar

World darts champion Michael Smith has received a hero’s welcome in his hometown social club.

Waiting to give him a huge hug was his proud mum Sandra Woods, who was working behind the bar when her son made history. Sandra watched the final on television as she served drinkers in St Helens, Merseyside.

And when Michael, 32, threw his final arrow to clinch the PDC World Darts Championship title at London’s Alexandra Palace, he could almost hear the roar from inside the St Anne’s and Blessed Dominic church club 200 miles away.

As she waited last night to greet her son alongside the bar room dart board where he still practices, proud Sandra, 59, could barely speak.

“My voice has gone from all the screaming last night” she said.

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Michael’s sister Clare Smith, 40, and his cousin Michelle Alban, 40, had joined his mum behind the bar, while his dad Ian, 58, who drives his son to all his tournaments, sat in the player’s lounge at Ally Pally, too nervous to watch the final in person.

Bar manager Sandra said her work commitments mean it is difficult for her to see Michael live.

Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind barMichael Smith's mum and dad Sandra and Ian at the club where she serves drinks in St Helens, Merseyside (CHRIS NEILL)

“Because I work here it is hard for me just to get up and leave so I was in here with all the customers” she said. But she was surrounded by dozens of nervous friends and family.

“It was packed, it was great” she said. “My stomach was turning but he played really well, he was excellent. I like working when he is playing because it takes my mind of it.

"I’m watching but then I’m working at the same time. We were all huddled with each other behind the bar and then everybody in the pub erupted. There were a few tears."

“Everybody was screaming and I bought everybody a drink, and that cost me £150” she laughed.

Michael himself told the Mirror of the club's importance to his career: “I practice here every day if I’m not travelling.

“I do the school run - my kids still go to school around here. I get in here about 11am and finish about quarter to three, pick the kids back up from school and then go home.

“The bar does not open until 7pm so I get lots of peace and quiet.”

He added: “Being back here in the bar means everything. It means everything I’ve been working for all these years has finally paid off.”

Gerwyn Price left red-faced after wearing ear defenders to block fans outGerwyn Price left red-faced after wearing ear defenders to block fans out
Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind barMichael Smith returned to the pub where his mum was working after his PDC World Darts Championship victory (CHRIS NEILL)
Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind barMichael Smith poses with his family after his stunning world championship win (ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Sandra, who has another son, Ian, 35, revealed how gentle giant Michael earned the his darts nickname “Bully Boy”.

“He got his name when he was about 15, my sister had a pub in Rochdale and there were a lot of farmers round there and one of them used to take Michael on his farm.

“He had bulls and Michael used to wrestle the baby bulls to tie them down and and it was the farmer who called him ‘Bully Boy’ and it stuck.”

She said her son’s talent was obvious within weeks of picking up a set of darts aged 15. He had broken his hip after falling from his bicycle, which meant he could not play rugby league with his school pals.

To beat the boredom he started throwing darts in his mum’s bar.

“We have always had pubs and clubs and he used to watch his dad and he asked if he could have a go” said Sandra.
“Within a couple of weeks he was hitting 180s and it went from there.”

Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind barMichael Smith's mum Sandra and sister Clare at the St Anne’s and Blessed Dominic church club in St Helens (CHRIS NEILL)

Dad Ian Smith, 58, who also works at the church club, said his son “was born to be world champion”.

After arriving back in St Helens last night he said: “It was a night of raw emotion. There were a lot of tears. I am absolutely over the moon with him.”

Ian revealed he sat in the player’s lounge on his own during the final, in which Michael beat rival Michael van Gerwen 7-4. And at one point he had to go outside and walk around the car park to settle his nerves.

“I went walkabout for about 20 minutes” he laughed. He watched the final moments on TV and then waited for Michael to bring the trophy into the lounge.

“I was just hugging him. They had to prise me off him. I could hardly see through the tears” he said.
“I told him he was born to be world champion.”

Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind barMichael Smith returned to the pub where his mum and dad work after being crowned world champion (Getty Images)

He added: “It is something he has believed in since he first picked up a set of darts, that he would win that trophy.”

Michael, whose wife Dagmara and two young sons Michael Jr, eight, and Kasper, four, were at Alexandra Palace to watch the final, admitted he had not slept for 24 hours after his victory.

“I could not believe I had become the world champion, the world’s number one” he said.

But his fame will not stop him pitting himself against the local darts players in his mum’s bar.

As friends arrived to congratulate him, he said: “People have asked if they can come in a get photo with the trophy but they will not treat me any differently.

“We are all friends and they have enjoyed it as much as anyone, they have watched me playing for all these years.

“You have got to keep level-headed and you have got to keep your feet on the ground.

“I have got to become the world champion by doing it this way this and I will not change. I will just stick to what I know best. I will still come in here to practice.”

John McLoughlin, retired deacon at the church, said: “He is a lovely fella. He practices here regularly. Sometimes you will see him on his own playing darts and other times he is just playing with the rest of the lads. It is a social thing more than anything.”

Was Michael Smith versus Michael van Gerwen the best ever darts match? Let us know your views in the comments section

Michael Smith’s mum lost voice as she watched son while working behind barMichael Smith celebrates winning the PDC World Darts Championship after an epic final against Michael Van Gerwen (PA)

Mr McLoughlin, 77, said Michael often plays for the club’s own darts team. He added: “He is one of the lads, there is no side to him at all.”

Smith’s triumph over hot favourite van Gerwen came after the heartbreak of losing two previous finals at the Ally Pally.

“I’m over the moon to be a world champion, everything I’ve worked hard for has finally come true now,” he said.
He now hopes to parade his trophy at the home of St Helens’ rugby league team at the start of next season.

But Sandra said success and the £500,000 prize money will not change her son.

“It won’t go to his head, I won’t let him” she said “He is down to earth. He is what he is, he is a St Helens lad.”

Paul Byrne

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