Jocky Wilson was the people’s champion who went from a council house in Fife to worldwide fame and fortune and back again.
The pot-bellied king of the oche was 62 when he passed away 10 years ago, leaving his native Kirkcaldy and the wider darts community in mourning.
Of course, Jocky wasn’t your archetypal sporting champion.
He was a wee Fifer who just happened to have a love of beer, fags – and darts.
This unlikely champion resembled an uncoordinated amateur as he flung his darts and often looked like he was launching himself at the board with his final throw.
Jocky made up for this by hitting the target and gave hope to thousands of pub players by becoming world champion in 1982 and 1989.
Multiple world champion Phil Taylor paid tribute to Jocky following his death and said the mere mention of his name brought a smile to his face.
“When I first started Jocky was there at the top of the sport – you wanted to beat Eric Bristow, Bob Anderson and Jocky Wilson, they were the stars,” he said.
“I’ve got loads of memories of him and he was such a good laugh to be with.
“People talk about the great characters in darts and he’s one of the greatest – if not the main one when he was playing.
“It’s common knowledge that Jocky had false teeth, and I remember playing snooker with him and he asked someone to clean the white ball and took his teeth out to mark the ball!
“He’d always be doing things like that, and he’d have a great little grin on his face.
“His smile will stay with me forever.”
Known the world over as an ebullient and competitive sportsman, Jocky was also intensely private and protective of his family life.
He never formally announced his retirement from darts but simply departed from the sport following the 1995 World Matchplay and returned home to Kirkcaldy.
Jocky’s era was a golden one for darts with the likes of Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Leighton Rees and Bobby George also around.
Jocky smoked in his sleep
George got to know Jocky “probably better than anyone in darts” as they roomed together at events around the world including the USA, Middle East and Europe.
He used to tell the Fifer to “cut down on the fags” as sometimes the smoke in whatever hotel room they were sharing would be so bad you “couldn’t see the toilet door”.
“He used to smoke 20 fags in bed at night,” he said.
“As he was asleep, he’d wake up and strike a match every 15-20 minutes, have a puff, go back to sleep, snore like hell, wake up and have another puff.
“That’s what he wanted to do. Today they’ve got managers and one thing or another. But I don’t think they could control John.
“He was old school. He did what he wanted to do.”
Born in March 1950 at Craigtoun Hospital, St Andrews, Jocky came from a large family and survived some difficult times, including several years in care.
Jocky served in the British Army from 1966 to 1968 and also worked as a coal delivery man, fish processor and a miner at Kirkcaldy’s Seafield Colliery.
During a period of unemployment in 1973, he found himself at a loose end and went to the Lister Bar, where he was persuaded to make up the numbers in a darts team.
While he may have been “absolutely rubbish” that day, he enjoyed the game and practiced determinedly in the privacy of his own home.
The rest is history.
Arch-rival Eric Bristow joined Jocky’s beloved wife Malvina, children John, Willie and Ann-Marie and his six grandchildren for the emotional funeral service.
Tearful friends and family members bowed their heads as a piper playing Flower of Scotland led the hearse carrying Jocky’s coffin to Kirkcaldy Crematorium.
He was carried into the crematorium to Matt Monroe’s The Impossible Dream before the service was conducted by Denis Madden, who emphasised the two very different aspects of Jocky’s character.
“He himself was not happy with fame and the media coverage that came with it, ” said Mr Madden.
“Work was a means to an end. All he wanted out of it was to provide for his wife and family.”
Despite this, he loved the competitive side of darts and aside from his two world titles in 1982 and 1989, he had four British championship titles to his name.
Mr Madden told mourners: “He went on to win for the kingdom of Fife, then for Scotland, then became world champion not just once but twice.
“He played all over the world and I don’t think there’s a country he never played in.
“He had a much bigger love than all the darts and that’s the woman who was his wife for 44 years. She was his soulmate.
“When it came to the crunch, what this man’s life was all about was his wife, his children and his grandchildren.
“He was a quiet family man. He lived in a quiet community who honoured and cared for his privacy.”
His battles with the “Crafty Cockney” Eric Bristow made for brilliant TV and they usually turned into Scotland versus England contests.
Speaking after the ceremony, Bristow broke it down further.
“He was a real gent and a real character behind the darts, ” he said.
“He was crazy but he was lovely and he wanted to win. There’s not enough of them about now.
“He was champion of the world. When we were playing he wanted to kill me but we were friends. That’s the way sport should be.”
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