There was the darts itself, yes, including the Leg From The End Of The World but there was also the human element. You need a special level of persistence to keep coming back for more after losing eight major finals in a row as Smith had done, including the defeats at the 2019 and 2022 world championships.
That sort of run can erode a man’s belief and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. But Smith was unwilling to be cast as the bearded bridesmaid forever. November’s win at the Grand Slam of Darts ended the losing sequence; Tuesday evening’s epic took him to the summit of his sport.
Unpolished, down-to-earth, straightforward and a family man through and through, he makes for a thoroughly likeable champion. The ‘Bully Boy’ moniker needs a revamp. He was, he said, in a revealing aside, disappointed to be missing the school run in St Helens because of his champion’s victory duties in London on Wednesday.
Even in the immediate dizzying euphoria of his career-defining triumph, he still had his priorities sorted. Asked stage-side if winning the world championship was the greatest moment of his life, he relegated his achievement beneath the birth of his children without missing a beat.