It says much for the love and respect that Britain has for the game of darts and its iconic players that much of last weekend’s news, both online and on television, was devoted to the passing away of the Scottish player Jocky Wilson, who died on Saturday at the age of 62 (he’d recently been suffering with the lung disorder chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
And the two-time world champion deserved all the attention which came his way, seeing as his playing style brought so much happiness to his fans, who loved Jocky because they knew he was as equally comfortable throwing darts and sinking a pint in the pub as he was on the grandest stage of them all, which was winning a major title on the BBC.
Indeed, from his debut in 1979 until 1991, he impressively managed to reach at least the quarter-finals of the World Championships, with surely his greatest moment being his defeat of the “Crafty Cockney” Eric Bristow in 1989.
Leading the tributes was the best player that the sport has ever known, 15-time world champion Phil “The Power” Taylor, who said, “He was such a good laugh to be with. People talk about the great characters in darts and he’s one of the greatest. Jocky had false teeth, and I remember playing snooker with him. He asked someone to clean the white ball and took his teeth out to mark the ball.”
But amidst the warm words, it would be remiss to not mention a magical non-sporting moment back in 1982. The flagship music program on the BBC was Top of the Pops and it wasn’t a surprise to see the hugely popular Dexy’s Midnight Runners appearing on the show. A big photo of Jocky Wilson appeared as the backdrop in the studio as the band performed their latest hit single; legend has it that production team pranksters were responsible for the joke. Only one catch: the track was called “Jackie Wilson Said.” And while the producers still get the blame, an article in the Guardian actually attributes the idea to the group’s lead singer Kevin Rowland.
From wherever Wilson’s now hitting bull’s-eyes, you can imagine the toothless Scot still smiling from cheek to cheek.