Jocky Wilson

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Jocky Wilson
Personal information
Full nameJohn Thomas Wilson
Born(1950-03-22)22 March 1950
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Died24 March 2012(2012-03-24) (aged 62)[1]
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Darts information
Playing darts since1972
Darts21g Datadart
Walk-on music"Jackie Wilson Said" by Dexys Midnight Runners
Organisation (see split in darts)
PDC1993–1996 (founding member)
WDF major events – best performances
World Ch'shipWinner (2) 1982, 1989
World MastersRunner Up: 1982, 1990
PDC premier events – best performances
World Ch'shipLast 24 Group: 1994, 1995
World MatchplayQuarter Final: 1994
Other tournament wins
Autumn Gold Cider Masters1985
British Open1982
Bullseye Darts Ch'ship1980, 1981
Finnish Open1986
Jersey Festival of Darts1980
MFI World Pairs1988
Scottish Masters1980, 1983, 1984
Best Old Major results:
British Professional1981, 1983, 1986, 1988
British Matchplay1980, 1981
Medal record
Men's Darts
Representing  Scotland
WDF Europe Cup
Gold medal – first place 1978 Copenhagen Men's team
Silver medal – second place 1978 Copenhagen Men's singles
Silver medal – second place 1988 Yarmouth Men's team
Bronze medal – third place 1980 Ebbw Vale Men's singles
Bronze medal – third place 1980 Ebbw Vale Men's pairs
Bronze medal – third place 1980 Ebbw Vale Men's team
Bronze medal – third place 1982 Westcliff-on-Sea Men's pairs
Bronze medal – third place 1982 Westcliff-on-Sea Men's team
Bronze medal – third place 1984 The Hague Men's team
Bronze medal – third place 1986 Turku Men's team
Bronze medal – third place 1988 Yarmouth Men's singles
Updated on 1 September 2021.

John Thomas "Jocky" Wilson (22 March 1950 – 24 March 2012) was a Scottish professional darts player. After turning pro in 1979, he quickly rose to the top of the game, winning the World Professional Darts Championship in 1982, then again in 1989.[2] Wilson competed in all major darts tournaments of the era and won the British Professional Championship a record four times between 1981 and 1988.

A contemporary and rival of Eric Bristow, Bob Anderson and John Lowe, Wilson's ungainly appearance and rough-hewn lifestyle belied his prowess in the sport. He was dogged by health problems, however, and suddenly retired from the game in December 1995. He withdrew from public life, and was rarely seen in public or gave interviews before his death in March 2012.

In 2022 the new World Seniors Darts Championships was launched with the trophy engraved with the names of four deceased former World Champions on the darts: Wilson, Bristow, Leighton Rees and Andy Fordham.

Early life[edit]

As a child, Wilson's parents were deemed unfit to raise him and Wilson spent much of his childhood in an orphanage.[3] He began playing in a local pub in Kirkcaldy where the landlady supported his interest in darts by giving him a used board to practice on.

Wilson served in the British Army from 1966–68. He also worked as a coalman, a fish processor, and also a miner at Kirkcaldy's Seafield Colliery. However, it was a spell of unemployment which was to prove the catalyst to Wilson achieving great prowess.

In 1979, during this period of unemployment, he entered a darts competition at Butlins, Ayrshire, which he went on to win, claiming the top prize of £500[4] (worth £2,296.76 in 2023). His success in this tournament convinced him that he should turn professional.



In 1981, Wilson beat world number one Eric Bristow and Cliff Lazarenko of England in the BDO Nations Cup final. His Scotland teammates in the 5–4 win were captain Rab Smith and Angus Ross.

His greatest achievements came in the World Championships, first in 1982 where he beat Lowe 5–3 in the final, and then seven years later, when he beat his other great rival Bristow 6–4 in a classic match, where Bristow had recovered from 5–0 down to 5–4 and 2–2 in the tenth set. This was to be the Scot's last taste of success in a major event although the odd final appearance still came over the next few years.

His record at the World Championship was one of great consistency. From his debut in 1979 until 1991 he managed to reach at least the quarter-finals on every single occasion. He was quarter-finalist eight times (1979, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991) and three-times a losing semi-finalist (1983, 1984, 1987) in addition to his two World titles. In 1992 and 1993 he suffered first round defeats for the only time at the Lakeside Country Club.[4]

He made several guest appearances on television including the popular darts themed quiz show Bullseye hosted by Jim Bowen, on 28 November 1982, produced by Central Television.[5]

In the television documentary, Eric Bristow: Sports Life Stories, Bristow described various psychological ploys he used against his opponents to "scramble their heads". He added that in response the only two opponents who would look him in the eye at the handshake at the start of a game were Wilson and Lowe, saying that like himself they had "no fear". He also referred to Wilson's unorthodox style such as a tendency to jerk his shoulder on throwing the third dart. Bristow commented that it seemed to have no detrimental effect on the accuracy, describing Wilson as "a one off". Bristow stated though that Wilson's sporting demise was due to the increasing volumes of alcoholic spirits Wilson would consume remarking, 'At the end he was doing a 40 oz bottle'.[6]

Darts split[edit]

Wilson joined the other top professionals who split away from the ruling British Darts Organisation in 1993 to form the WDC (now Professional Darts Corporation). He was not able to recapture the form that took him to two world championships however, and only participated in two PDC World Championships, failing to win a single match. He lost both group games in 1994 (to Dennis Priestley and Graeme Stoddart) and again in 1995 (to Priestley and Lowe).

One of the highlights of Wilson's three years in the WDC was him reaching the final of the 1993 WDC Skol UK Matchplay in March 1993, which was broadcast on ITV and played on quadro dartboards. Wilson became one of the few players to have hit 240 on television during a visit to the dart board, by getting 3 darts in the quadruple 20, during his semi final victory over John Lowe. Wilson lost the final to Dennis Priestley.

Wilson reached the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Matchplay, losing to eventual champion Larry Butler. Wilson's final appearance in a televised tournament came in the 1995 World Matchplay. He beat Rod Harrington 8–4 in the first round, but lost to Nigel Justice in the second round. Wilson never appeared in a major televised event again.


Although Wilson never formally announced his retirement, he stopped competing professionally on 23 December 1995. It is rumoured that he left after being diagnosed with diabetes, which stopped him from drinking during games.[citation needed]

For ten years during his darts career, Wilson had a house in Wallsend to cut down on travel expenses, but he left that to return to his native Kirkcaldy. In 1996, he said, "I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me. There's only one person to blame for the situation I'm in, and that's me." He was declared bankrupt in 1998, and then survived on disability allowance, living as a recluse in a one-bedroom flat back on the council estate where he grew up.[4] He also suffered from arthritis in his hands.[citation needed]

Wilson ceased giving interviews to the press and television. An Observer reporter tried to interview him in January 2007 on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first title win, only to be told by his wife, "He never has (given an interview) since stopping and never will. He thinks it's all in the past, it's over with."[4] However, Wilson spoke briefly to The Scotsman in 2001.[7] Despite his withdrawal from darts, in August 2009, the PDC announced a new tournament called "The Jocky Wilson Cup" in which Scotland's best players played England's best. England beat Scotland 6–0 in the inaugural tournament in December 2009.

A heavy smoker for 40 years, in November 2009 it was announced that Wilson had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Reports stated that he had smoked up to 50 cigarettes a day for most of his life. He died just after 21:00 on 24 March 2012 at his home in Kirkcaldy, two days after his sixty-second birthday.[8] His funeral was held on 2 April at Kirkcaldy Crematorium;[9] his rival Eric Bristow and sports presenter Helen Chamberlain were among the estimated 400 mourners.

Personal life[edit]

In 1982, during the Falklands War, Wilson was temporarily banned from competing in darts tournaments after he was involved in "an unseemly brawl" with an official during a championship. According to Wilson's obituary in The Scotsman, this resulted from a remark allegedly by the official relating to Wilson's wife, who was named Malvina (the Argentine name for the Falkland Islands is "Islas Malvinas").[10] He received a temporary ban which stopped him from defending his Unipart trophy title.[11]

Wilson frequently consumed sweets and generally refused to brush his teeth, stating: "My Gran told me the English poison the water". He had lost his last tooth by the age of 28. Following his 1982 World title win, he paid £1,200 for dentures, but later complained that the dentures made him belch when drinking.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

World Championship results[edit]


  • 1979: Quarter-final (lost to John Lowe 1–3)
  • 1980: Quarter-final (lost to Eric Bristow 0–3)
  • 1981: Quarter-final (lost to Tony Brown 2–4)
  • 1982: Winner (beat John Lowe 5–3)
  • 1983: 3rd place (beat Tony Brown 2–0; lost in semi-final to Keith Deller 3–5)
  • 1984: Semi-final (lost to Dave Whitcombe 5–6)
  • 1985: Quarter-final (lost to Dave Whitcombe 3–4)
  • 1986: Quarter-final (lost to Dave Whitcombe 2–4)
  • 1987: Semi-final (lost to John Lowe 0–5)
  • 1988: Quarter-final (lost to Eric Bristow 2–4)
  • 1989: Winner (beat Eric Bristow 6–4)
  • 1990: Quarter-final (lost to Mike Gregory 3–4)
  • 1991: Quarter-final (lost to Kevin Kenny 3–4)
  • 1992: First round (lost to Kevin Kenny 1–3)
  • 1993: First round (lost to Dennis Priestley 0–3)


Performance timeline[edit]

Tournament 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Winmau World Masters 1R RR 1R SF QF F 4R 4R 2R SF QF QF SF F 1R DNP
British Professional Not held W DNP W SF QF W QF W Not held
MFI World Matchplay Not held 1R 1R F QF QF Not held
PDC World Championship Not yet founded RR RR
World Matchplay Not yet founded QF 2R
News of the World ??? SF ??? SF ??? QF ??? Not held
Performance Table Legend
DNP Did not play at the event DNQ Did not qualify for the event NYF Not yet founded #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QF lost in the quarter-finals SF lost in the semi-finals F lost in the final W won the tournament


  1. ^ "Yahoo News". Archived from the original on 28 March 2012.
  2. ^ Telegraph staff and agencies (25 March 2012). "Jocky Wilson, former darts world champion, dies aged 62" – via The Daily Telegraph.
  3. ^ Waddell, Sid (25 March 2012). "Jocky Wilson obituary". Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f The sad story of Jocky Wilson, Jamie Jackson, The Observer, 14 January 2007
  5. ^ Challenge TV Archived 4 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine – viewed 6 October 2017
  6. ^ Eric Bristow: Sports Life Stories Tuesday 3 December at 10pm on ITV4
  7. ^ "Jocky Wilson – the final interview".
  8. ^ "The Times Obituary: Jocky Wilson". 16 August 2023 – via
  9. ^ "Jocky Wilson: Darts ace funeral held in Fife". BBC News. 2 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Obituary: John Thomas 'Jocky' Wilson; darts world champion who became a recluse in his home town of Kirkcaldy". The Scotsman. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  11. ^ Waddell, Sid. "Jocky Wilson obituary: Former world darts champion cast as a colourful folk hero during the 1980s". Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Top of the Pops picture".
  13. ^ "BBC Scotland – Jocky Wilson Said".
  14. ^ "Jocky Wilson Said". Celtic Media Festival.

External links[edit]