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17 October 2014

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Darts

Jocky Wilson: Pride of Kirkcaldy

Jocky Wilson

© EMPICS

If someone were to write a list of the most popular of all Scottish sporting heroes, then surely near the top of the list would stand an unassuming Fifer with a less than athletic build, but who became one of the leading exponents of his sport and, with his wide grin, one of the most recognisable faces of sport in the 1980s. This man was darts legend, Jocky Wilson.

Jocky was born in Kirkcaldy in 1951, and worked in a variety of manual jobs throughout his youth, including being a coal delivery man and also a miner at Kirkcaldy's Seafield pit. However, it was a spell of unemployment which was to prove the catalyst to Jocky achieving sporting greatness. While on the dole, Jocky entered the 1979 Butlin's Grand Master's competition, a competition he went on to win, claiming a grand prize of £500!

This success was enough to convince the amiable Fifer to turn professional, and, within the space of a year, Wilson had entered the top ten of the professional ranks.

Darts, like snooker, was really taking off at this point due to television coverage, and large crowds would watch the finals of the World Championships. The first of these was held in 1978, when Leighton Rees took the trophy to Wales with a triumph over legendary English player John Lowe.

Also, like snooker, one player was beginning to dominate the sport. Much as the 1980s were the era of Steve Davis's dominance of the green baize, so Eric Bristow, the “Crafty Cockney” began to exert a stranglehold on darts world titles, beginning with this triumph in 1980 over the flamboyant Bobby George.

It seemed that the two Englishmen, Bristow and Lowe, would exercise a duopoly on titles for the foreseeable future as Bristow retained the title in 1981, and Lowe steamrollered his way to the final the following year.

Facing up to Lowe in the final was Jocky Wilson, the Scot having carved out a reputation as a formidable opponent in various lesser events, including winning the BBC Bullseye competition in 1980 and 1981.

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