Farewell to Jocky Wilson – the People’s Champion

OLD adversary Eric Bristow was among the hundreds of mourners who gathered to pay their respects to two-time darts world champion Jocky Wilson.

Mourners stood with heads bowed outside Kirkcaldy Crematorium as a lone piper played in honour of the People’s Champion.

Wilson died on 24 March, aged 62, leaving Argentine-born wife Malvina, sons John and William and daughter Anne Marie.

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The Kirkcaldy native had become a virtual recluse in his later years as he struggled with poor health but remained a legend among fans of the sport and a folk hero to the people of Fife.

Bristow, who was defeated by Wilson for the Scot’s second world title in 1989, said: “It was a nice send off. He was twice world champion and a great character. He’ll be missed.

“He was crazy, bubbly. He wanted to win, and was a character: what every sport needs and there’s not enough of them about now.

“We were enemies when we played each other, but we had a drink afterwards. That’s the way it should be, isn’t it?

“Once you’ve tried your best, win or lose, we went to the bar and had a drink – which he was very good at. He won the drinking. I’ll have a couple more for him now.”

He added: “He was a recluse for the last 14 or 15 years. He couldn’t do what he wanted, go out for a drink and have a game of darts. He’s at peace now.”

The service was conducted by humanist celebrant Denis Madden. He said: “Jocky never wanted to be famous. It was a means to an end – to provide for is family. When it came to the crunch, this man’s life was about his wife, his children and his grandchildren, whom he doted on.”

The ceremony finished with Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Mr Madden said: “There’s only one song you could play, because Jocky Wilson lived his life and he did it his way.”

Mrs Wilson said: “I’m just proud that Jocky Wilson was my man, proud that everything he did, he did for his family.”

Sky Sports presenter Helen Chamberlain was also among the mourners. She said: “As a darts fan, alongside Eric and John Lowe, he was the one you wanted to watch play.

“He was a just a massive character of the game and so entertaining to watch.”

Neil Brunton, 45, who played with Wilson in the Fife County darts team in the 1980s, wore an old team shirt as a mark of respect at yesterday’s service. He said: “He was a great guy and one of our own.”

Wilson started his career in 1979 and reached at least the quarter-finals of every World Championship between then and 1991, winning the title in 1982 and 1989. He was also a four-time British champion between 1981 and 1988 and a three-time Scottish Masters champion.

He was a founding member of the Professional Darts Corporation and helped darts to it current popularity.

His popularity among both players and fans was confirmed with the 2009 Jocky Wilson Cup, which took place in Glasgow, in celebration of his career.

Prodigious amounts of drink, endless cigarettes and a sugary diet left him with health problems, including diabetes, pulmonary obstructive disease and depression.

In 2001, he told The Scotsman Bristow had tried to persuade him to go back to darts, but he feared the effect on his health.

“If you’ve not got it in your heart, what’s the point? And I’ve not. Seriously, I’ve not. If I went back to darts, I’d end up drinking again, that’s a cert. And I’d end up – bump. I’m better out of it. I just can’t handle it.

“I liked a drink – Eric’s probably the same because we all came up the same way. They like a drink, likes of the older school, but the younger school, they don’t drink much.”