CHARLES GRAHAM - Farewell to Jocky, prince of the oche

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MANY a happy evening was spent in front of the telly in the 1980s watching through a fug of smoke as invariably large-bellied men, occasionally the worse (or sometimes the better) for drink, vied for world supremacy at the oche.

Darts hasn’t lost its working class appeal to this day, I’m pleased to say.

But there was something special about those particularly passionate encounters between larger-than-life characters like Eric Bristow, Dave Whitcombe, Cliff Lazerenko and John Thomas “Jocky” Wilson.

The last of these left us this week at the age of just 62.

To be honest he had been off the radar for many years and it wasn’t so long since that a colleague of mine said he was sure that Jocky had already died a good while ago. But it emerged from the obituaries that after suddenly retiring in 1995, he had lived a hermit-like existence on disabilities.

A sad decline then. But reflecting on his glory days you always knew you were going to have a great match with Jocky involved.

He wasn’t an invincible player and it was his misfortune that his peak came when the great Bristow was in his pomp.

But at his best the double world champion was a terrific competitor, a passionate character who was one of the darting greats.