Farewell Jocky of the oche: Darts mourns the loss of two-time world champion Wilson
22:08 GMT, 25 March 2012
Jocky. Those who transcend sport and life require just one name. If they are loved by all, their Christian name suffices.
So it was with a wee man from Kirkcaldy who came to symbolise darts and stand as a 1980s beacon of endearing simplicity.
Darts was in its terrestrial television heyday and Jocky Wilson was one of the holy trinity alongside Eric Bristow and John Lowe. Bristow won more world titles — five to his Scottish rival’s two (in 1982 and 1989) — but Jocky won more hearts.
VIDEO: Scroll down to see footage of Wilson's two world titles
Champion: Jocky Wilson, who won two world titles, has died aged 62
After all, not only did he represent every ordinary bloke who toed the oche in a pub over a pint, he couldn’t even throw properly, lurching to one side as his arm was flung in the opposite direction. The difference was, when Jock did it, the dart still hit its target.
‘He would need double top with his last dart,’ Bristow recalled yesterday, smiling. ‘I wouldn’t look at the dart board, I’d just watch him. He’d jump with his last dart and in that split second I’d think “I’ve got another shot”.
‘Then you’d hear the announcer shout “Game” and you’d look up and it was right in the middle of double top. That was Jocky. The first five sets he took off me in the 1989 World Championship final, he could have thrown them over his shoulder and hit a 180.’
Popular: Wilson entered the sport as its appeal with the public began to grow
And unorthodox. When the pair played each other at the World Team Cup in Livingston, Jocky resorted to odd tactics.
Bristow added: ‘He kicked me before we went on stage. Took about four inches of skin off my shin. Luckily, the England team wore red trousers so even though my leg was bleeding, nobody could see it. Then I had to hobble on stage, shake his hand and play him. He won. We had a drink after. I said “What was all that about” He said “I’ve got to try to beat you somehow”.’
Born in Kirkcaldy, where he died on Saturday night aged 62, Wilson began his working life as a miner. He had a weakness for sweets and rarely brushed his teeth because his grandmother told him ‘the English poison the water’. /03/25/article-2120039-1253107B000005DC-651_468x337.jpg” width=”468″ height=”337″ alt=”Legends: Wilson with fellow darts player Bobby George (right)” class=”blkBorder” />
Legends: Wilson with fellow darts player Bobby George (right)
Fifteen-time world champion Phil Taylor said: ‘Jocky had false teeth. I remember playing snooker with him. He asked someone to clean the white ball and took his teeth out to mark the ball with a great little grin on his face. His smile will stay with me forever.’
When his toothless grin beamed out as a backdrop to Dexys Midnight Runners on Top of the Pops as they performed Jackie Wilson Said no-one had to be told his name. We all knew and we all laughed along.
It is a smile which had not been seen by the world, save for his wife Malvina, since 1996 when he suddenly walked away from darts.
Back in the day: Wilson returned to his home town after retiring from the sport
‘At that time, it was generally accepted among the players that they needed a drink to feel comfortable,’ said Tommy Cox, Jocky’s former manager.
‘Although he never drank away from darts, Jocky did on stage. When he was diagnosed with diabetes, he couldn’t drink. He’d have three pints and he’d be sick for three days. He battled on for six months drinking water at events but he was a shadow of himself. He was embarrassed. He walked away and didn’t tell anyone, not even me.’
Wilson retreated to the Kirkcaldy estate on which he was raised — a recluse who, it is believed, never set foot outside his flat again. For Bristow, his passing was a release.
‘It was sad but it’s nice to see him out of his misery. I’ve been smiling all morning. Mind you, the little sod’s always cost me money and he will now because I’ve got to go out and have a drink for him, haven’t I’
Wilson v John Lowe – 1982 Embassy Final
Wilson v Eric Bristow – 1989 Embassy Final
SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Dexy's Midnight Runners famously used a picture of Jocky during a Top of the Pops performance of their hit song Jackie Wilson Said