A careful look at our sport at this time reveals a missing ingredient or a missing morsel of mercurial talent. Yes the English were dominant, yes Bristow was our superstar, John Lowe was the rock, and Paul Lim on his way to becoming our International figurehead but, perhaps, we were missing a cult hero?
John Thomas Wilson broke through at Jolees nightclub in 1982, claimed that position and, to this day, he has never relinquished it.
In many ways, the above Darts World cover sums up Jocky and his career. Unforgettable triumphs, popularity born of genuine affection, and dreadful slumps and disappointment that continued until his final days.
His 1982 triumph was one of those ultimate highs. Coming after 8 grueling sets against John Lowe, the final set and especially the last two throws see Jocky wrestling to keep himself under control with pure unadulterated tension written all through him yet he does so and then explodes with joy after nailing that d16 for the title. The comparison with Alex Higgins’ World Snooker Championship win, the previous year, is difficult to avoid.
Lowe was again forced to play the straight man or the rock to the more mercurial talents in the game but he played his full part on every occasion.
We’ll see both of them again in the Darts World 50 but for now, our first and favourite cult hero, John Thomas Wilson, had arrived in the limelight.
THIS STORY seems another example, with hindsight, of the organising bodies trying to put their finger in the dyke. Granted the TV companies, especially the BBC, had a major influence here but the idea of a player using named flights was surely not worth such pearl-clutching?
In many cases, players were semi-pro at best and simply using the equipment that they had always used. Brands such as Unicorn had long since included their logo or symbol on flights and other kit. Over the years many such issues have cropped up. The number of patches has been controlled, the size of each one, and the type of products advertised have all been up for scrutiny.
The article is a timely snapshot of how, the game, the media, and commercial enterprises have had to work together, not always comfortably, since the earliest days. Imagine the early 80s BDO being confronted with Peter Hudson’s Sex Shop sponsor deal from a couple of years ago!
The Darts World 50
Very few publications can lay claim to being “The Official Voice” of their sport. But then not many are almost 50 years old and have coexisted side by side with the object of their affection throughout the swings and roundabouts of two golden eras and at least one near collapse.
In the early 1970s, a handful of ingredients were coming together to form the recipe for the massive success of the hitherto lesser-known pub game. Darts World Magazine was one of those ingredients.
Editor, proprietor, and instigator, Tony Wood, welcomed readers to the new Darts World magazine for our November/December 1972 debut (Issue 1). The ingredients mentioned above could all be seen within those first 36 pages and then in every issue that followed.
DW has chronicled the ups and downs, the major events, and the minutiae while championing the game at every opportunity.
The Darts World 50 offers 50 highlights selected direct from our pages during what must now be thought of as the ‘Golden Age/s of Darts’.
The Darts World 50 will be available to order (Here) from November 15th 2022 with release and delivery expected in early December
Images: Darts World.
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