PDC World Darts Championship Memories: When Kirk Shepherd Nearly Did A Leicester City And Shocked The World
Kirk Shepherd was unknown outside of the darting circles heading into the 2008 PDC World Darts Championship, but by the end of that showpiece tournament the Kent-born youngster rocketed into the limelight as he nearly caused the biggest shock in darts history.
A 1000/1 outsider before the event got under way at the Alexandra Palace, 21-year-old Shepherd had earned his place in the marquee event having qualified through a PDPA qualifier, but what he achieved over the festive period of 2007/08 will live long in the memory.
A sheet metal worker in Ramsgate, Shepherd was drawn against experienced thrower Terry Jenkins in the first round, but Shepherd showed guts to defeat 'The Bull' 3-2 in sets to book his place in the second round. A 4-3 victory over Irishman Mick McGowan in the second round was followed by an impressive 4-2 win over Barrie Bates, and Shepherd was quickly making a name for himself.
A quarter-final clash with Peter 'One Dart' Manley was expected to see Shepherd bow out of the tournament, but the man dubbed the 'Martial Dartist' showed sensational fight and determination to edge another close encounter 5-4 and book a semi-final clash with Wayne Mardle, who had just knocked out Phil Taylor in his quarter-final.
With Shepherd riding the crest of the wave and on the brink of darting history he faced crowd favourite Mardle, who struggled to recapture the form he showed when beating Taylor in the quarters and Shepherd ran out a superb 6-4 winner to book a place in the final against Canadian John Part.
Part, already a two-times world champion, just proved a cut above Shepherd, who fought bravely, but lost convincingly 7-2 in what was a rather low-key final.
However, Shepherd's achievements will be etched into darting folklore after heading into the event as the 1000/1 outsider he nearly achieved what Leicester City did in the Premier League a few years ago by shocking the big guns and claiming the most coveted title in the world.
Could we see another surprise package catapult into the spotlight at the 2019 William Hill World Darts Championship when it gets under way next month?
Watch Kirk Shepherd defeat Wayne Mardle in a scintillating semi-final at the 2008 World Darts Championship here: