Oor Jocky Wilson by the men who knew him best

No stranger to winning, a young Jocky Wilson. (Pic FFP).
No stranger to winning, a young Jocky Wilson. (Pic FFP).

As Kirkcaldy gears up to celebrate its most famous sporting son 30 years on from becoming world champion for a second time, two friends closest to darts legend Jocky Wilson have come together to recall that sporting triumph and the high times that came with it.

Fellow darts player Jimmy Skirving competed alongside Jocky long before he turned professional, and remembers him from his days playing in pubs such as the Alpha Bar and Lister.

Fond memories from firm friend - Jimmy Skirving  and  Kenneth Lonie. (Pic FFP).

Fond memories from firm friend - Jimmy Skirving and Kenneth Lonie. (Pic FFP).

“He was good, but once he turned professional after winning a tournament it really took off,” Jimmy said.

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Jocky Wilson with Lister Bar regulars in Kirkcaldy after becoming Woirld Champion 1982. (Pic FFP).

Jocky Wilson with Lister Bar regulars in Kirkcaldy after becoming Woirld Champion 1982. (Pic FFP).

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“I was there at Jollees Club in Stoke-on-Trent to see him claim his first world title, in fact it’s me he hands his darts to immediately afterwards telling me ‘take these, I won’t be needing them now’.

“He phoned me ahead of the semi-final against Stefan Lord to get myself down there as he was sure he was going to win that title in 1982.

“When he beat John Lowe in the final it was bedlam – incredible to think about it even now.

Jocky Wilson in his first pub darts team, Alpha Bar Kirkcaldy

Jocky Wilson in his first pub darts team, Alpha Bar Kirkcaldy

“But not long after it was over Jocky just wanted to come home.

“He was a family man and just wanted to get back to Kirkcaldy and be around the people he knew.”

Jimmy recalled the rivalry as well as the mutual respect, both on and away from the oche, among Jocky and his fellow professionals such as Chris Lazarenco, Keith Deller, Bob Anderson, an d Bobby George as well as the special friendship that grew up between Jocky and the the one they called the Crafty Cockney, Eric Bristow.

“There was an intense rivalry but they were great pals and certainly knew how to wind each other up,” Jimmy said.

Jocky Wilson as part of the Alpha Bar Kirkcaldy darts team that were the first pub side to win the Evening News Scottish Open Team Championship 1978. (Pic FFP).

Jocky Wilson as part of the Alpha Bar Kirkcaldy darts team that were the first pub side to win the Evening News Scottish Open Team Championship 1978. (Pic FFP).

“During one match Eric unscrewed Jocky’s darts removing the barrels before handing them back to him.

“However, despite the competition between them, Jocky stepped in to support his English counterpart during one notorious occasion at Dundee’s Caird Hall when a full can of larger was thrown at Eric.

“To Jocky, that was an insult to him and he made his feelings known to the partisan crowd.”

Meanwhile, retired businessman Kenneth Lonie was Jocky’s designated driver at the height of his friend’s sporting prowess, which saw the darts legend rise from pub player to double world champion and four times British champion in a decade that made Jocky Wilson a household name.

“It’s incredible to think just how meteoric his rise was,” Kenneth recalled as he scanned through old photographs.”

“What he achieved puts him up there with the very best that Scotland has ever produced but I don’t think Jocky gets the public recognition that he deserves.”

Charged with getting Jocky to everything from darts contests to exhibition matches, and personal appearances the length and breadth of the UK, Kenneth was closer than most when it came to witnessing the euphoria of sporting triumph as well as the pressures that stardom brings.

“At the height of it all, the whole world knew who Jocky was,” he said.

“He rubbed shoulders with the stars of the day from the likes of page three model Linda Lusardi, to comedians Tommy Cooper and Cannon and Ball and snooker champion Steve Davis.

“Driving back from one tournament late at night we once had a race with wrestler Giant Haystacks on the motorway, which was quite something.”

Away from the dartboard, Jocky had a passion for fishing and never missed an opportunity to get out on the water during tournaments.

However, that lead to one memory Kenneth would rather forget.

“We were in Ramsgate in Kent and Jocky decided there and then to buy a boat,” he explained

“The thing was he wanted me to sail it back to Fife from the south coast! It took nearly a week following the coast.

“I had no idea what I was doing and bailed out at Bridlington and got the train as I’d been that sick.”

Despite Jocky Wilson’s passing in 2012, both men remain close friends with the his family and both are delighted that their friend is to get the recognition he deserves.

“There should be a permanent landmark to recognise Jocky’s achievements,” said Jimmy.

“It’s Scotland’s greatest sporting triumph to be double world champion.

“Not many others can lay claim to that!”

>> Celebrating Jocky Wilson is at the Adam Smith Theatre on Sunday, June 16. It features former world champion Gary Anderson and other VIP guests from the world of darts. Ticket details from the box office or www.onfife.com