Michael Seward “Mike” Gregory was a World Championship finalist and back-to-back News of The World champion who also collected a plethora of important titles from the mid-1980s and 1990s.
Mike was one of a handful of players to challenge the dominance of Bristow, Lowe, and Wilson who then went on to kick start the next era with players such as Phil Taylor and Dennis Priestley.
Dubbed ‘The Quiet Man’ he often seemed shy compared to his counterparts but the Somerset thrower put together a remarkable record of event wins that spoke for itself. Having reached the World Masters final in 1983, losing 2-1 to Eric Bristow, he then started winning things. 1984 saw him collect the Butlins Grand Masters, British Professional and British Matchplay titles in less than 6 months and effectively back-to-back.
After a couple of years of almost and nearly results Mike again produced a run of success from 1986 to 1988. This period saw the Bath man claim The World Matchplay (MFI), two Dry Blackthorn Masters, and a European Cup Singles. Then came those consecutive wins in the most unforgiving event in darts, the original News of The World event, in ‘87 & ‘88. In the tungsten era, only Gregory and Eric Bristow went back-to-back.
Regardless of the much-discussed off the oche events during this time, Gregory’s success on the board was outstanding. In 1991 he started picking up titles gain and did not stop for almost five years. As during previous successful spell it began with winning major opens on the global stage, Canada and Australia proved particularly happy hunting grounds, this form saw MG play a role in two events that are now seen as major milestones in darts history.
First the now legendary Lakeside World Championship Final against Phil Taylor. Acknowledged as one of the best matches played initially for quality and then for drama. MG famously had 6 match darts to halt ‘The Power’ but somehow it was not to be.
Commercial decisions, not involving the players, surrounding ‘The Taylor-Gregory Final’, and merchandise connected to it, lead directly or indirectly to the founding of the WDC and later ‘The Split’ in top-level darts.
The first event to be organised by what is now known as the PDC (then the WDC) was simply an addition to the normal dart calendar in 1992. Gregory collected the Swedish Open on 4th October before claiming the inaugural (WDC) LADA Masters seven days later. Within three weeks of collecting the £5000 (and a new LADA), he reached the final of the WDF affiliated World Masters.
Remarkably Mike repeated the trick the following year, again claiming the (WDC) LADA and the (WDF) Swedish events. He later made the controversial decision to eschew the newly formed grouping and return to BDO/WDF darts.
MIke’s final flourish, continued from the tail end of 1994, with a string of mainland European open titles, through to the high-quality invitational European Masters of 1995. Gregory overcame the BDO new brooms of Burnett, Wallace, and Manley to claim his last high-profile title.
Although MG continued playing for much of the next decade he seemed to peak at the last eight or four stages in open events and suffer early defeats on TV. His last World Championship was at the Lakeside in 1999.
A last hoorah saw him reach the final of the Scottish Open in 2003 in a field that included Gary Anderson, Steven Bunting, and Gary Robson to name a few.
Mike played his County darts for Somerset and Superleague for Radstock.
Mike Gregory is survived by his wife San, sons Lee and Daniel, and daughters Kelly and Louise.
May he Rest in Peace.
The original version of this piece (in DW 579) contains errors in the penultimate paragraph. Darts World has apologised to Louise Gregory and now passes those apologies to friends or relatives of Mike’s and our readers who may have been disappointed.
DW 580 will, of course, run a correction also.