In 1986 a fourth member joined Eric, John, and Jocky at darts’ top table. Although no one claimed there was ‘a new sheriff in town’, there certainly was a cowboy and a limestone one at that.
Bob Anderson didn’t quite fit the mold of a professional dart player. Tall, lean, and quite athletic in build, the former javelin thrower had been making waves in the sport since claiming the 1983 British Open. Even this was preceded by a fine run to the last 16 of the World Masters as far back as 1979.
In 1986 he claimed his first ‘major’ TV title and began a run that would see him claim a unique hattrick of Winmau World Masters titles. A new character and a major talent had been added to the darts mix.
The guys over at dartsdatabase.com recently crunched the numbers and Bob’s averages from the mid-80s to 1990 stand out, ‘The Limestone Cowboy’ often topped the leagues.
More important than averages, or mere statistics, was Bob’s style, manner, and talent. His finger-pointing, gunslinger mannerisms, and a more aggressive approach ensured that high-level drama and entertainment were ever-present when Bob was on stage.
The new ‘Musketeer’ did not merely contribute titles. He added a dash of flair and individualism by bringing his love of country music to the stage. Tasseled shirts, bright red trousers, and a variety of overall ‘looks’ combined superbly with the ‘Cowboy’ moniker. Could it be that Peter Wright has simply taken this to its logical extreme?
Very few players can claim to have straddled three eras competitively, but Anderson can claim at least that many. His late 1970s forays were followed by taking on the big three in their heyday, as darts moved into the 90s Bob was tackling Taylor and Priestley in their prime and continued to do so until the 2008 World Championships (PDC). From John Lowe in 1979 to Jelle Klaasen and Colin Lloyd in the 2000s the Limestone Cowboy went one-on-one with them all.
From a starring role in darts first golden era, Champion of Champions in 1990, to one of the WDC 16 who founded the modern professional game (and found themselves banned from playing as a result). Bob played a strong role in helping to promote the new organisation, even agreeing to ‘walk on’ with a horse for the World championships. It’s fair to say that Anderson’s career mirrors the history of modern darts.
He was not however some sort of honorary figurehead! Throughout the 90s and into the next decade Bob fought with, and challenged, the very best of two full eras of PDC giants. In both 2004 & 5, by now in his late 50s, he underlined just how good he was with two tremendous World Championship semi-final runs.
For many, it’s the 1988 Bob that sticks in the memory. The Clevedon man enjoyed a purple patch winning six major trophies, in twelve months and captured that elusive World title with an overall performance that would have graced The Lakeside stage in any era. The Limestone Cowboy had cemented his legacy.
Words: JR Lott ( A version of this piece appeared in Darts World Magazine (571) Sept/Oct 2020)
Featured Pics: Steve Daszko
More about Bob or perhaps book an exhibition? Here.