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Matchplay champ admits he was nagged to win trophy

EXCLUSIVE by Phil Lanning

ROB CROSS gave the Betfred World Matchplay trophy to his son Leyton after joining an elite group of darting royalty.

The Hastings star became just the fourth man in history to win both a World Championship and also the Blackpool showpiece when he defeated Michael Smith 18-13 in the Final.

Cross moved into the legendary status alongside Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson, but reckons he still has so much to learn having only become a professional three years ago.

He said: “I had to give the trophy straight to my boy. He asked me three years ago that he wanted me to get a big trophy so I gave him the Worlds.

“Then he has been nagging me saying ‘dad you haven’t given me a big trophy for so long’. I mean it’s only been 18 months but you know what kids are like!

“I saw his face at the Premier League final after Michael van Gerwen beat me and it broke my heart.

“It’s the best feeling in the world when that last dart goes in and I know I can get Leyton up onto the stage. It’s made his night and my family and that’s all that counts.

“It’s not bad for three years and I’m really still learning and still progressing.

“I have to admit that this year I have felt like a new person and I’ve gained a lot of confidence.

“Obviously, recently, I’d had a bit of a drought in terms of titles even counting the floor events.

“I’d like to congratulate Michael because he’s played well all week. He will win one of these. It's only a matter of time, but he had a below-par performance and I’m just so happy that I won.”

Cross was always in control of the Final after storming into a 9-0 lead.

Smith staged a mini-fightback to get it back to 15-13 down, but his World Cup team-mate staved off the recovery.

Cross said: “Michael struggled with doubles, but it made me more edgy and I know it wasn’t the best game in the world.

“Yes I was concerned as he came back. There are some times when you fear the worst.

“I knew I just had to stay calm and the 32 I hit to go within one leg of the victory was a huge moment.”

Smith’s defeat was his third in a Major Final and again he was the victim of an awful start.

He said: “I started way too slow and everything just deserted me. From being 9-1 down, had been 6-4 or even 7-3 down instead, I could have got back, but I was constantly chasing and chasing.

“My scoring wasn’t there and neither was my finishing. I was just waiting for my game to click and I just wanted to stay with him and, when I won a session 4-1, I thought I’m back in this. But all credit to Rob. He had a job to do and he did it.

“I’ve got to another Final and it’s another runners-up trophy for the house, but it won’t stop me. The door will open because I will run straight through it never mind knocking.”

Images: Chris Dean/PDC

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