“… in the middle of the Australian Championship, I ended up spending two days in hospital…”
Once in a while, Darts magically has a way of treating us to a wondrous Cinderella story.
At the recent World Championships, the Australian Raymond Smith was the star of the latest darting fairytale, upsetting the odds and reaching the last 16 of the tournament.
But sadly for Raymond, despite his triumphs on the oche, looms a cloud of sorrow and despair emanating from a troubled childhood.
Fighting back the tears, he said: “To this day, I struggle enormously with abandonment issues. I never met my biological father and my mother kicked me out of home just before my 15th birthday.
“I moved in with my step-dad to try and finish school. Being a low socio-economic area, the teachers there were cruel and constantly reminded me that I wouldn’t amount to much. They’d throw me out of their classroom for being slow to understand and for falling behind.
“Not long after leaving school, I moved in with my brother. His friends did a lot of stupid stuff so, in an attempt to fit in, I’d foolishly follow suit.
“Eventually, I decided to leave that environment and go anywhere I could find shelter. Back then, I was pretty much drifting through life waiting for some kind of end.
“When my step-dad realised what was happening, he bought me a caravan close-by which gave me a roof over my head but I didn’t have enough income for food.
“From the ages 15-19, I was a very angry lad and blamed my parents for the situation I was in. Ultimately though, I was programmed to condemn myself, believing I was a failure.”
In a way, the game of darts is what saved Raymond. The mental scars were deeply engrained but with tungsten in hand, he managed to cast his fears and anxieties to one side.
Reminiscing, Smith said: “Playing darts with my step-dad was my only highlight and a welcomed escape. He’d take me to a club for a meal and a few soft drinks just so I could chuck arrows.
“In the early days, I loved playing – that was until travel came into the equation. Although I was 18-years old at the time, my interaction skills were poor. I had difficulty engaging with other adults and had zero confidence around people.
“Unless I was around someone I could rely on, I was unable to function in crowds. Well, by someone, I mean anyone who could keep me focussed and prevent me from doing daft things!
“In 2008, I made the Queensland team for the first time. The Australian Championships were taking place in Victoria and thankfully my family flew down so I wasn’t alone. Not surprisingly, I played well.
“But once they’d gone, I reverted back to an insecure youth. Within two days of my family leaving, I was hopping over beds to physically attack a team-mate.
“Soon after getting home, I played a match for my local club. I’d gotten through two of my four games before deciding just to walk out. It would be four years until I returned.”
Love is a powerful word – and often, that is what it takes for a person to find meaning and semblance in their life. For Raymond, that was precisely the case.
In his cherished Belinda, his search was over and he’d found that special someone. But things weren’t always rosey – there were still plenty of bumps in the road.
Explaining, Smith said: “It was clear I still had issues with managing my depression and aggressive tendencies. But once Belinda began travelling with me, it balanced my life out and I started acting like a human being.
“I was picked for Queensland again in 2012. My friend James Bailey looked after me and made sure I didn’t mess up. It worked!
“Then a year later, I once again made the team and won the Australian Mixed Doubles with a lady named Sharon Goltz.
“I was so happy yet still confused. The self loathing I felt caused enormous exhaustion and eventually caused a blackout. That was how, in the middle of the Australian Championship, I ended up spending two days in hospital.
“From now on, every time I travel, I’ll always want either Belinda, James Bailey or my manager Greg Walsh by my side. All three easily recognise the self destructive warning signs and can help me through them.
“Ultimately, it’s Belinda who knows me better than anyone and can pull me out of any situation, any time. That is why I am so heavily dependant on her.
“Sadly, none of those three could travel with me to this years World Championships so it was just me and my son Ky.”
Read the full story of what happened when the Smiths hit London tomorrow….
Originally published in Darts World Magazine Issue 578.
Darts World Magazine (Issue 578) and 2022 bundle offers
Subscribe or purchase your copy