Bully Boy’s views on PDC Worlds, turnaround in form, broken bones and more
We are delighted to be joined by top 10 PDC-ranked star and former World Youth champion Michael Smith, who shares his exclusive thoughts to Sam Barnard for Darts World ahead of his seventh successive Ally Pally appearance, in Part 4 of our 2018 PDC World Championship profile/interview series.
Bully Boy has vast Worlds experience, despite being only 27, and has reached at least the third round in each of the last four editions.
He is currently the youngest player inside the PDC’s top 10 Order of Merit, and ever since breaking onto the darting scene a few years back has reached the latter stages in multiple Major events as well as earned invites to the Premier League and World Series.
Smith’s own high standards arguably got the better of him in 2016, but that has also driven him to come back better, which he certainly has this year.
The Gibraltar Darts Trophy is his sole success on the oche in 2017 to date, but there is no doubting that he’ll be a contender for many Majors and a top name in the sport for plenty of years to come.
So, read on about the above and more for our exclusive Michael Smith interview and profile, the fourth in our series, ahead of the 2018 PDC World Championship from December 14 – January 1…
Michael Smith profile
Date of birth: 18/09/1990 (age 27)
Place of birth: St Helens
Based: St Helens
Nickname: Bully Boy
Walk-on song: Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
Darts used: 24g Michael Smith Unicorn
Management company: Dunvegan Enterprises
Sponsors: Rix Motor Company, Car Finance 24/7, Unicorn, Dunvegan Enterprises
Twitter handle: @BullyBoy180
Favourite double: 10
Favourite checkout: Any that wins me a leg!
Favourite tournament: PDC World Championship
Favourite country played in: New Zealand
Toughest player faced: Gary Anderson – I try too hard
Players to watch in future: Chris Dobey, Adam Hunt
Sports/darts heroes growing up: Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Sir Alex Ferguson
Best mates in darts: Gary Anderson, Ian White, Dave Chisnall, Chris Dobey, Adam Hunt
Favourite food: Vindaloo
Favourite film/TV show: Walking Dead
Favourite band: Boyce Avenue
Hobbies outside of darts: Watching other sports and playing with my kids
Current/previous day job: Part time darts, full time airport attendant! Also a farmer when a kid
Ultimate darting ambition: World number 1, world champion and achieve what I know I can do in this game
Michael Smith interview
Having reached at least the last 16 in the last four PDC Worlds, how special is the event for you? And how excited are you ahead of the upcoming edition?
The last two events have been cruel, I lost them because of lost concentration.
Against Barney in the quarters [in 2016], I should have easily won. Also last year against [James] Wade, both being 3-0 up and losing.
But I love this event, that’s what we work for all year and that’s when I seem to bring my A-game.
At still such a young age, you’ve already achieved so much. What has been your proudest darting moment to date?
Winning the youth Worlds and all my other titles, but my proudest moment was becoming a daddy both times.
Your form slightly declined in 2016, but you have certainly put that behind you by reaching three finals this year that included winning the Gibraltar Trophy. Was there anything you changed that helped get you back to playing at your best?
I changed my darts because I wanted to get my confidence back for my other darts.
So when I had enough I went back to my old ones and it helped me.
After such a brilliant start to life in the PDC and winning the 2013 World Youth title, did you perhaps put too much pressure on yourself to achieve so highly so soon? Or are your natural high standards the reason why you are such a force in darts?
I have high standards in everything I do.
I won’t be happy until all my goals are complete.
As of this interview, you are back in the PDC top 10 and the youngest player currently in that group. Are you there to stay now, and what are your aims for 2018 and the end of this year?
Next year my aims are [breaking into the] top 4, but if I get to Premier League and World Series it’s happy days.
But my aim is top 4 end of the year and that’s what I’ll be focused on because then I’ll be automatically in those events.
I also want to play in the World Cup, I want to represent my country at least once.
How was your first taste of playing in the World Series Down Under this August? Do you mind travelling abroad so far? And more importantly, have you forgiven Gary Anderson for making you jump off the Auckland Sky Tower??
I loved it and I’d do it all the time.
Next time I will take my family so they can experience it as well.
[The Sky Tower jump] was Jamie Banks doing my head in asking and asking, and then Gaz said he would put money in for charity so I couldn’t say no!
It must be great to be part of the Dunvegan setup with Gary and other top players. How much of a help have the management team, Gary and other fellow professionals been since you joined?
It’s been a massive help. We’re all mates and get on well, there are no idiots in the team – Tommy wouldn’t allow it so there’s no going behind backs, just all praise for one another.
We help each other out when we can – like Gary has us all down to stay before Minehead so we can practise together and then relax.
And from the management side Tommy and Stephanie [Gilmour] are there to make sure everything is done right, and they fight for us when needed.
Tommy is always on at us to make sure we’re saving and being sensible with our money. If we’re not well, he wants to know about it in case we need specialist help.
He’s always said he treats the boys like family – including [during] the tellings off!!
What made you get into darts, and at what point did you realise you were good enough to make it as a pro?
I got into it around 14/15 only because I broke my hip and had nothing to do, so I used to sit on the stairs and watch my dad practise and just thought I’d give it a go.
When I was 19, I broke both hands on Christmas Eve so I thought it was all over. But it was the best thing I ever did, because shortly after I got my fight and passion back for the game and soon won my first Pro Tour [title] just after.
That was also the kick start of when I started to believe.
Moving onto football. Being a Man Utd fan what do you think of their season so far? Are the glory days coming back under Mourinho, or is his style not the United way?
We’ve been better than our recent seasons, but we will never get back to the Sir Alex days and Jose [Mourinho] brings his own style.
At the minute we’re missing [Paul] Pogba, and also a right mid and left back because for some reason Jose doesn’t like [Luke] Shaw.
Finally, back to darts again. Are there any favourite or standout memories you have watching the World Championship in the past, besides your own successes?
Both Gary’s titles.
I only watch him play, otherwise I don’t watch darts because darts isn’t allowed on the TV when I’m at home!
Many thanks to Michael for speaking to us this week. Join us for part 5 of our PDC Worlds interview series next time, where we’ll hear the thoughts and views of two-time world champion Gary Anderson.