Michael Smith was left apologising to a partisan Welsh crowd after ruining their fairytale finish on the opening night of the Premier League darts season in Cardiff. On a raucous night, ‘Bully Boy’ got his campaign off to the perfect start by beating home favourite Gerwyn Price in the final, despite having to endure whistles and jeers as he threw at the oche.
The 2022 world champion was imperious in the final, nailing a 107 checkout to move into a 5-1 lead. ‘The Iceman’ pulled a leg back to delay the inevitable, before Smith took out double 10 for victory.
And interviewed on stage after the match, Smith admitted there had been a marked difference between his Premier League opening night experience in 2024 and 12 months previously. “With the crowd tonight there were a couple of whistles but I’m sorry that I won,” said Smith.
“I’m sat top after one night so hopefully I can stay there. I’m a former world champion and I want it back. I’m not practising and not doing anything right but I’m finding glimpses. I was world champion and I just wanted to enjoy myself.
“I turned up tonight and never got asked for an interview. Last year, I couldn’t sit for five minutes. I just want to get on with it and get back to 2022. If I win the worlds I won’t give up practice. I’ll do it right and proper.”
Smith’s role of pantomime villain had already been cemented after his semi-final win over teenage sensation Luke Littler. The 17-year-old missed a shot at double 17 for the match before his compatriot prevailed 6-5, despite the sell-out crowd largely siding with ‘the Nuke’.
But Smith, who also overcame Michael van Gerwen 6-5 in his first match, wasn’t the only player to endure problems with the crowd. Newly crowned world champion Luke Humphries was beaten 6-2 by Littler in his match, and had to deal with what sounded like a whistle being blown as he threw to try and stay in the match.
Humphries, who was also hardhly jeered as he walked to the stage, was clearly perturbed by the incident. He glanced back at spectators out of frustration, with the whistle sounding again later on when Smith was throwing.
On commentary, Sky Sports assured television viewers that security had been informed and were trying to source the culprits. However, there was thought to be multiple offenders among thr sell-out crowd at the Utilita Arena.