Jocky Wilson died, aged 62 and two days, on 24 March 2012. Jocky lived and played hard, and as a premiere darts player is remembered for his love of life and mastery of his sport.
John Thomas Wilson, later known as Jocky, was born in Kircaldy in 1950. He did not have an easy start in life; he spent much of his childhood in an orphanage – his parents were not dead, but they were judged unable to care for their son and the visits home he was allowed were never easy. Jocky spent a couple of years in the army, and was a miner when he met his future wife Malvina with whom he had three children.
Jocky’s first major darts win was at a Butlins tournament in Ayrshire in 1979. He won £500, and this win was to set him on his sporting path. His rise to fame and fortune was swift, although he started to enter darts tournaments at a time when media coverage of his sport was in its infancy.
Jocky went on to become one of the major names in darts in the 1980s. His legendary wins included two World Darts Championship titles in 1982 and 1989, the British Open in 1982 and the Scottish Masters in 1980, 1983 and 1984.
Jocky’s first World Championship final saw him beating a darts master, John Lowe. The darts triumvirate at the pinnacle of their game during Jocky’s career were John Lowe, Jocky himself and Eric Bristow. Jocky’s second World Championship title saw him beating Eric Bristow. By the early 1990s Jocky had reached a stage where he was not winning tournaments, and he quietly retired from the game in 1995.
Jocky lost his teeth young; some photos (for even once he had them he did not always wear his denture), show a delightful toothless smile. Jocky’s health was not great – diabetes is likely to have factored in his decision to leave the game, and his lifelong smoking habit resulted in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a debilitating illness that narrows the airways.
Phil Taylor, ten years younger than Jocky and darts world number one, dedicated his wins at the Barnsley UK Open qualifiers on 26 March 2012 to the memory of Jocky Wilson – at the event sixty seconds’ applause celebrated Jocky’s memory. Jocky will remain in the hearts and minds of darts fans as an open, honest man who mastered his game and lived life to the full.