Published On: Fri, Feb 2nd, 2024
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Premier League Darts star thinks Luke Littler wants to ‘smash’ him up | Other | Sport

Michael Smith thinks Luke Littler might want to “smash me up” when they next go head-to-head in the 2024 Premier League Darts. The 2023 darts world champion got the better of the teenager in Cardiff on Thursday for the first night of the season despite being whistled throughout the first-to-six-legs contest.

Smith dumped out Michael van Gerwen, last year’s Premier League champion, in his first match with a 6-5 triumph before defeating Littler in the semi-finals by the same scoreline. He then thrashed home favourite Gerwyn Price 6-2 in the final on a strong night for the former world No. 1, who earned the maximum five points.

Luke ‘the Nuke’ had been looking to beat Smith to claim a win against a seventh different former world champion having downed Christian Kist, Raymond van Barneveld, Rob Cross, Price, Van Gerwen and new world champion Luke Humphries in the past few weeks.

And ‘Bully Boy’ acknowledges the 17-year-old will be eager for revenge having lit up the PDC Tour this year. Littler went all the way to the World Championship final on his Alexandra Palace debut before winning the Bahrain Masters and reaching the Dutch Masters final before defeat to Van Gerwen.

Smith says he’s known all about Littler’s quality for several years, and told the media in Wales: “He hasn’t beaten me like the other six – but I will play Luke on night five or six in the first round at the Premier League and he could think, ‘Right, I am going to smash you up for beating me.’

“Or I could think, ‘I have already beaten you once, I will do it again.’ Swings and roundabouts I guess. If someone beats me, I am not a malicious person, I don’t hold a grudge. If you beat me tonight, I will beat you tomorrow.

“That’s what Luke should be thinking. That’s the way sport works. In Cardiff, it was my night. Next week in Berlin I may be beaten in the first round – like in racing, favourites can fall at the first hurdle.

“I have been playing Luke since was 12 years old because he literally lives five minutes from my house. He has always been good. I remember when he was 13 and it was league singles in my mum’s pub. He was good even at 13 years when I beat him 3-1 in the first round.

“That is how long he has been going – for four years, playing in my town and my leagues. I have known him for a long time. I remembered the last time we played and I said I would do it again – and it happened.”

Multiple players had to deal with whistles and jeers in Cardiff with Humphries left visibly frustrated by the crowd’s interruptions during his match against Littler. Smith was also whistled when he went up against Welshman Price in the £10,000 final.

Smith made his feelings known when his double 20 secured a 6-5 win over Littler, turning around to the crowd and whistling back before clearly telling them to shut up. He explained: “It was one person being an idiot in a crowd of 4,000 people.

“You cannot stop it. You have to deal with it. Making an announcement asking them to stop would be the worst thing you could do. The referee didn’t tell the crowd to shut up because the minute you do that, it sets them off.”

The 33-year-old from St Helens added: “I actually thought in the semi-final Luke Littler was Welsh. It’s going to be every week, it doesn’t matter where it is. Everyone’s fallen in love with him. He’s even bigger than Phil Taylor who won 16 world titles, Luke is the most popular thing in darts.”

And Price, who is often targeted at other events but was loudly backed by his compatriots here, said: “That is part and parcel of the game. I have had it for the last five years. Welcome to the club, but what can we do? Chuck everyone out? Go back to Covid conditions behind closed doors – that’s the only way you can solve it.”

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