Darts mourns Jocky Wilson

2012-03-26 15:22

London - The world of darts is mourning the death of Jocky Wilson, a colourful character from a vanished age when overweight men clutching pints of beer and a cigarette commanded the attention of a national television audience.

The former miner and coal delivery man, who emerged from a council estate in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, to conquer the bulls-eye and become world champion in 1982 and 1989, died on Saturday at the age of 62.

"Everything about Jocky Wilson ... speaks of another age," commented the Times newspaper in a second page leader article under a headline that declared nothing was more British than a darts hero.

Even a toothless one.

"With none of his own teeth by the age of 30, and a physique designed for the pub, he was a sporting hero for a time when sports and pubs were not, quite, incompatible," said the Times.

In an era when darts tournaments appeared on prime-time television and their leading exponents were household names, Wilson stood out as a man without a nickname.

While Londoner Eric Bristow was the 'Crafty Cockney' and John Lowe 'Old Stoneface,' proud Scot Wilson was known as simply Jocky - "on the oche, looking stocky, acting cocky."

Darts, like tobacco-sponsored snooker, commanded huge audiences in the 1980s before the days of pay television and a ban on smoking and drinking during tournaments removed the ambience of the smoke-filled working man's club.

Jocky was a big man of the board, backed up with pints of beer and a litre bottle of 'magic coke' - half soft drink, half vodka. At the 1984 world championship he drank so much that he fell off the stage.

"If darts come off TV for good, then I'm off to Japan to take up sumo wrestling," he once joked.

Instead, he lived out his post-darts life as a recluse on disability benefits and in a council flat with his Argentine-born wife Malvina.