Jim Long, of London, Ont., already has one win under his belt at the William Hill World Darts Championship. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jim Long, of London, Ont., already has one win under his belt at the William Hill World Darts Championship. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian Jim Long living the darts dream at world championships in London

Jim Long is living the dream. The darts dream.

The 50-year-old GM worker from London, Ont., already has one win under his belt at the William Hill World Darts Championship. He goes for two on Friday when he takes on Benito van de Pas, a 25-year-old from the Netherlands who is seeded 30th.

Long doesn’t have a world ranking. When he upset Northern Ireland’s Mickey (The Clonoe Cyclone) Mansell in the first round last Saturday, they showed a dash in the space for world ranking on the big screen instead of a number.

The Canadian wasn’t fazed. He’s still pinching himself that he is in the 96-player field at Alexandra Palace in London, England.

“It was a real surprise … I never, never, would have thought I could be here,” he said.

The bookies were surprised too, listing him at 2,500/1 to win it all.

Long, who had never been to Britain before, has his head on a swivel as he walks through the streets of London.

“It’s a shocker. I’m just absorbing it. A great time.”

He doesn’t know too much about his Dutch opponent, other than he watched him on TV from his home the last two years at the tournament.

Long took part in a couple of events on the Championship Darts Corporation circuit in North America last year and decided to do more this year. There was plenty at stake with the top American and Canadian on the guaranteed a spot at the worlds.

“I had no hopes and aspirations to get here,” he said. “Usually they take one player from North America. And there’s a lot of us there.”

It went down to the last event in late August, with Long finally booking his place. Long had already won the Canadian singles and doubles title.

The world championship features competitors from 28 countries and a record purse of 2.5 million pounds ($4.2 million). It runs through Jan. 1 with the winner collecting 500,000 pounds ($842,250).

By making the second round, Long has already earned 15,000 pounds ($25,540). That means he has already covered the cost of the Air BnB he rented with his wife, son and daughter (his oldest daughter wasn’t able to join them).

Long says the Professional Darts Corporation, the sport’s governing body, has treated him like “gold.”

He has played elite pros before, but not before the raucous crowd at Alexandra Palace.

“I wasn’t really nervous but I felt pressure,” he acknowledged.

Long lost the first set 3-2 but rallied to win the next three in his opening match. He missed three match darts in the fourth set but, after Mansell was unable to hit a double seven to send the match to a deciding set, he sealed the deal.

“I’m still kind of soaking it, in to be honest. Real surprised,” he said with a chuckle.

After high school in Wardsville, between London and Chatham, where he grew up, Long used to play pool at a local tavern after work. They were a man short for darts one day and he never looked back.

While he went on to represent Ontario — joining forces with former world champion John Part in 2004 — he says he didn’t go to many tournaments until this year. One reason was he always worked Saturdays at the GM plant in Ingersoll, where he is a team leader on the assembly line making the Chevrolet Equinox.

Having three kids also cut into time for darts.

His schedule was more relaxed this year, so he was able to book five weekends off for tournament play.

“Honestly I don’t go thinking I’m going to win or trying to win. I just enjoy playing guys that I know will beat me pretty easily if I’m not sharp.”

Long chose “Shout” by The Isley Brothers as his walk-on music at the worlds, reckoning it would give the partying crowd something to get up for. But he says he can’t remember the reaction it got because he was too busy scanning the crowd for his family.

Jeff (The Silencer) Smith of Hampton, N.B., the other Canadian in the 96-player field, lost 3-2 to England’s Josh Payne in the first round. Smith, 43, is the 2018 North American Championship winner.

Long says Smith has been a huge source of help and encouragement at the tournament.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie are serving sit-down customers in their Mirror diner to protest health restrictions that they say are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

Whistle Stop Cafe owner says pandemic restrictions unfair to restaurants and small businesses

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in her daily update on Monday that 362 new COVID cases have been identified and 7,200 tests done in the last 24 hours. (File photo)
COVID-19: UK variant may have entered broader community says Alberta health minister

25 cases of two variants identified in Alberta and one not linked to travel

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Toronto Maple Leafs alumni George Armstrong, right, and son of Maple Leafs alumni Syl Apps, Syl Apps Jr., shake hands during a pre-game ceremony before the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets NHL game in Toronto on February 21, 2015. George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the '60s and wore the blue and white his entire career, has died. He was 90. The Maple Leafs confirmed the death Sunday on Twitter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
Former Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong dies

Former Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong dies

Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos pauses after losing the NFC championship NFL football game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Aaron Rodgers’ ‘uncertain’ future hangs over Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers’ ‘uncertain’ future hangs over Green Bay

Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich calls the plays on the sideline against Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg on August 14, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Scott Milanovich steps down as Edmonton’s head coach to pursue opportunities in NFL

Scott Milanovich steps down as Edmonton’s head coach to pursue opportunities in NFL

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) goes under Indiana Pacers guards Malcolm Brogdon (7) and Jeremy Lamb (26) to shoot during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Michael Conroy
Brogdon scores 36 points to lead Pacers over Toronto Raptors

Brogdon scores 36 points to lead Pacers over Toronto Raptors

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2020, file photo, baseballs occupy a bucket after use during fielding practice during spring training baseball workouts for pitchers and catchers at Cleveland Indians camp in Avondale, Ariz. Major League Baseball is suspending all political contributions in the wake of last week's invasion of the U.S. Capitol by a mob loyal to President Donald Trump, joining a wave of major corporations rethinking their efforts to lobby Washington. “In light of the unprecedented events last week at the U.S. Capitol, MLB is suspending contributions from its Political Action Committee pending a review of our political contribution policy going forward,” the league said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
Cactus League asks MLB to delay spring training due to COVID

Cactus League asks MLB to delay spring training due to COVID

Patrick Cantlay, right, bumps fists with Andrew Putman before teeing off on the first hole during the final round of The American Express golf tournament on the Pete Dye Stadium Course at PGA West Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Si Woo Kim holds off Cantlay to win The American Express

Si Woo Kim holds off Cantlay to win The American Express

Danielle Kang winds up to hit her tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Jessica Korda rallies to beat Kang in playoff at LPGA opener, Henderson ninth

Jessica Korda rallies to beat Kang in playoff at LPGA opener, Henderson ninth

COVID-19 scare prompts cancellation of Canada-U. S. soccer scrimmage in Florida

COVID-19 scare prompts cancellation of Canada-U. S. soccer scrimmage in Florida

Most Read