Blast from the past: Darts legend Jocky Wilson
Even if you had no interest whatsoever in darts, it was hard to ignore the sport (is it really a ‘sport’?) in the 1980s with engaging characters like the short, stout, Scotsman Jocky Wilson.
Along with his swaggering rival Eric ‘the Crafty Cockney’ Bristow, Wilson helped popularise darts during a time when the on-stage consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking was still allowed.
Fuelled by pints of larger and vodka and coke chasers, Wilson (whose teeth, incidentally, had rotted away due to sweets) would go on to win world championships in 1982 and 1989. His prodigious booze intake only served to emphasise his phenomenal skill and hand-eye co-ordination - although during one game when it was his turn to throw and was nowhere to be seen, it emerged he had fallen off the stage!
When Wilson won his first championship in 1982 the bars of his homeland echoed to a new ditty: “He’s 16 stone of fat and pain,/When he steps up to the oche./When he throws the spears you can hear the cheers/For Fife’s wee hero Jocky”.
The most memorable matches were those between Bristow and Wilson, with the former eyeballing the board along his aquiline nose, raising his pinkie as though about to take a sip of tea from a china cup, and then effortlessly hitting the treble 20.
Following his retirement, Wilson withdrew from public life and returned to his home in Kirkcaldy. He died on March 24, 2012, two days after his 62nd birthday.