Dennis Harbour admits he surprised even himself with his run to the quarter finals of the BDO Lakeside world championship.
The 54 year-old from Dogsthorpe upset Darryl Fitton and Martin Phillips - the No 7 and No 10 seeds respectively - on his way to the final eight in Frimley Green.
He bowed out in the quarter-finals after blowing a 2-0 lead against Jeff Smith, but left the Lakeside with happy memories.
Harbour, who was competing at the world championship for the first time since 2006, said: “I proved a lot of people wrong.
“I even surprised myself. I didn’t expect to get that far. I was well chuffed.
“A lot of people didn’t have much hope for me against Darryl in the first round.
“They were telling me: ‘You’ve got a hard game there,’ but so had Darryl.
“I expected a harder game against Martin Phillips. But I got to him straight away and never looked back.
“I was well chuffed to beat Martin. He’s been a top player for years.
“There was a lot of pressure up there on stage, but when you do well it feels great.
“To go up there and perform has given me so much confidence.
“I thoroughly enjoyed myself. My right arm is killing me now though!
“I’ve never thrown so many darts in a week before - but it was worth it.”
Had Harbour reached the last four - as looked likely when he went 2-0 up against Smith - he would have qualified for next year’s world championship.
And the £15,000 prize money would have enabled him to possibly play darts full time.
Instead, Harbour picked up £6,500 and this week returned to work at Dawbarns & Son in Wisbech.
“If I had a really good run I was thinking I could give up my job and play darts full time,” said the grandfather of four.
“Losing in the quarter-finals meant I got £6,500 rather than £15,000 and that’s not enough.
“I’m happy to go back to work and play darts as often as I can.”
Harbour looked set for the semi finals at the Lakeside - and a guaranteed £15,000 cheque - as he dominated Smith, who beat three-times champion Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams from Deeping in the first round, in the early stages.
But. following a break at the end of the second set, Smith won the next 10 legs to seize control of the match and the Canadian went on to win 5-2.
Harbour said: “I started off fantastically, got the first two sets, but then the break came and nothing went right after that.
“I would have preferred to carry on after the second set, but we were told the rules before the match started.
“It’s just one of those things. I was averaging over 100 and finishing well, but after the break, I couldn’t believe what happened.
“My family and friends were screaming at me: ‘Come on,’ but I just couldn’t find my game again.
“It was very hot up there and maybe that got to me a bit.
“I was disappointed to lose, but I was delighted to get to the quarter finals.
“I showed that I deserved to be there.
“Every footballer wants to play at Wembley and every darts player wants to play at the Lakeside.
“Playing there has boosted my confidence no end and now I want to get back there next year as well.”
Harbour, sponsored by John Beddows of Ebeneezers in Woodston, goes looking for ranking points next month when he defends his Scottish Open in Renfrew (February 12-14).