By Phil Lanning

ROB CROSS admits he was determined to “silence the haters” who dubbed him the fluke World Champion.

The Hastings star beat Michael Smith in an epic World Matchplay final 18-13 at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

It meant Cross joined an elite club of darting royalty alongside Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson as the only players to have won the World Championships and Matchplay titles.

But for Voltage it was even sweeter, admitting: “I’ve heard it all over the past 18 months. I knew everyone was saying that I was a one-hit wonder and I’d fluked the Worlds and would never win anything again.

“I know what I’m capable of but I did struggle to deal with being World Champion, especially after only being a professional for 18 months.

“It’s still only three years since I did this full-time. I’m years behind the likes of Michael, Gary, James Wade for experience.

They’ve all been playing full-time for over a decade, if not more.

“But the way it works now with social media, everyone has got a voice. Obviously everyone has an opinion and they are entitled to that.

“In a funny way it spurred me on a bit to know that people were questioning me. It’s still only my third year yet I’ve won the Worlds and reached the Premier League final, UK Open final and now won the Matchplay. That’s not bad going at all.

“I’ve still only started this journey, I’m still the baby really. But I’m learning something new about myself every week in this game. I don’t make the same mistakes and I improve.

“I guess the most satisfying thing right now is that I’ve silenced the haters. I’ve still got a lot more to a achieve but I’ve proved I’m not a one-hit wonder.”

Cross admitted that he gave the Matchplay trophy straight to his son Leyton – after he’d nagged him to win more silverware.

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.

“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.”