This Week – Jocky Is The Master.

This Week, the darting archives feature one of darts most loved sons, a legendary Swede from the 1970s, a lightning-fast Dutchman, a little-known major winner, and a deadly Canadian. The 14th-20th of June has been a fruitful week over the years.

The Silencer – Jeff Smith.

Forty Years Ago:

Darts first non-UK star claimed the News of the World trophy by defeating Dave Whitcombe 2-0. Sweden’s Stephan Lord deserves huge credit for his early role in widening the game’s popularity beyond the shores of the UK. Although this was to be his only major, Stephan was a superb, fluid player who reached the last four at both the World Championships and World Masters.

Jocky staked his Masters claim in 1980

Meanwhile, Jocky Wilson claimed his first ‘Scottish Masters’ title. The ‘Wee Man’ went on to set all manner of records in the long running event. To this day he is the only player to have won it three times. Wilson was also the youngest winner. He was thirty at the time!

The Masters continued, unbroken, until 2010. This thirty-three-year run featured victories for numerous Scottish legends including Gary Anderson (twice), Robert Thornton, John Henderson, and ‘Bravedart’ Jamie Harvey. The event was revived in 2014 and claimed by its oldest winner, the forty-two year old Alan Norris.

Thirty Years Ago:

The News of the World trophy featured once more. The 1990 crown was captured by the mercurial Paul Cook. Paul repeated Bobby George’s boast of winning the event without dropping a leg! ‘Cookie”s triumph brought down the curtain on the storied event’s incredible continuous run (from 1948-1990). Check-out JR Lott’s piece in our ‘Unsung Heroes’ area for more on Paul’s often overlooked achievement.

That year’s Canadian Open was captured, three decades ago, by Bob Anderson who seemed to love this event, between 1987 and 1992, ‘The Limestone Cowboy’ claimed the title twice and reached the final on four more occasions!

Ten Years Ago:

Vincent was painting his first PDC canvass in 2010.

Vincent Van De Voort claimed a PDC Pro Tour title, pipping Wayne Jones in the final. VVV’s win was the quickfire Dutchman’s second title of 2010 and part of a superb run during that year. Vincent went on to reach the Qtr-finals of the 2011 World Championships. During the Ally Pally event some Tottenham Hotspur fans re-purposed a terrace chant to the tune of KC & The Sunshine Band’s ‘Give It Up’, it’s fair to say Vincent’s receptions were never the same again!

This Time Last Year:

Dave Chisnall was underlining his title-winning ability and bringing a smile to the face of his new backers, Harrows. Chizzy seemed lifted, by the new arrangements, and produced a superb run to win the Danish Open (PDC).

Chizzy was hitting his straps in 2019. (Pic: Taylor Lanning)

On the other side of the Atlantic, Canadian thrower Jeff Smith solidified a winning run by claiming the Canadian Open (WDF) . ‘The Silencer’ had been showing signs of a return to his very best for a year or more, and his momentum was growing. Within months Jeff had reached the last 16 of the World Masters. He went on to reclaim his Pro Tour Card, and immediately reach his first Pro Tour event final, in the early months of 2020.

‘This Week’ has been a busy and eventful one over the years and it seems strange to think that we will look back to find a Covid-19 shaped blank. Yet, the success of ‘distanced darts’ and with the tentative restarting of live events, perhaps, this week will be seen as a turning of the page. I certainly hope so!

This Week appears regularly at check out recent editions here.

Watch and Learn: Coach Takes Issue With Some Accepted Norms.

In many sports you may hear the refrain, from modern pundits or commentators, “the game has moved on” or ” he has raised the bar”. We all like to compare the greats, of our favoured era, with players active today. It makes for great bar-room conversation and fires up the social media ‘opinionistas’.

Bygone days? Or can much be learned from past glory? Many greats appeared unique but often their styles or skills do not come from thin air and are transferred to future generations.

Our resident ‘Coach’ takes issue with the “game has moved on cry” he says:

In darts direct comparisons with previous eras can be made. Players often cross more than one “era” and with so many statistics, information and analysis tools available the archive is a virtual complete history of the modern game. Obviously factors such as opportunity to pay, competition level and equipment, must be taken into account but much can still be learned.

More important, than the booze-fuelled debates on who was the greatest, most talented, best stylist…….etc., is that almost any player can benefit from studying what has gone before. Often, especially with beginners, you will hear remarks like, “whatever feels comfortable is ok”, “don’t copy anyone else” and other similar remarks. These are meant to encourage players to develop naturally and not try, and fail, to play like someone else.

This is all well and good, as far as it goes, but to reject the information available seems wasteful at best and arrogant at worst. Bearing in mind that everyone, especially the young, will try to emulate those that they admire, or who are in the public eye, it seems questionable if they are all trying to play like MVG or Gary Anderson.

Spot the Difference? One uses a far less side on stance, nothing is compulsory even today.

Players of almost any style and stage of development could learn a thing or two from some YouTube and or research. Some myths may be dispelled, and more confidence be found in your own method,  if you seek common cause with the greats of the game.

Coach Takes a Stance!

An excellent example is in terms of stance. If you were guided by current players you might think that standing in a side on position was almost compulsory. Taylor, MVG, Cross and many other adopt versions of this position. The more face on stance could look awkward or old fashioned. In addition, you may think the short, wristy throw is a thing of the past. Yet a quick look at the most successful players, with very long careers, over many years, offers a different story.

Bob Anderson, Legendary Champion & singular in style. (Pic:PDC)

Bob Anderson made his TV debut in 1979 and still featured in the International Darts League in 2007. Along the way, he claimed the World Championship and three consecutive World Master’s titles. Bob was unfortunate enough to have to compete with Eric, John, Jockey and then Phil all in their prime. But despite his individual style few would question his place in the elite of the game.

Aussie Simon Whitlock’s style can be traced back through darts ‘family tree’.

Overlapping, with Bob, is the career of another face on, whristy short throw, tall player. Simon Whitlock first competed in the PDC in 2004. In 2018 he was ranked back in the top ten and featured in the Premier League. Whitlock is one of the few still active, to have played in both BDO & PDC World Finals and was a major finalist as recently as 2017.

A close look at footage of both players reveals many similarities. They are tall upright men in their normal posture. Both lean in with the majority of their weight on the front foot. Both get the best results when they level the dart before release. Both are very still and deliberate in their stance but once the throw begins they are very fluid and rat-tat-tat with the three darts. Both are good at moving on the oche and their finishing can be unstoppable.

In terms of equipment both use mid length barrels, 50.8mm, medium stems and a standard shape flight. Both seem to prefer the larger surface areato the flight to get their dart to stand up in the bed.

Simon has seen the light, and now uses the tapered dart, thus both use slim fronted darts to allow superb grouping. Simon has been experimenting recently with equipment and accessories.  Bob was also keen to adapt to the times and switched to aluminium stems quite early and later adapted the grip on his signature darts due to a lessening of sensation with age. Simon has not yet turned fifty so could emulate Bob’s longevity. It may be that there is something to be said for this style even today!

So if you have a wristy throw, or face on stance, take heed of these great players. Maybe look at your darts, set up or both. Make one small change at a time, to ensure that you can tell what is helpful and what is not, and give each one a decent chance to work in all conditions.

Could you watch and learn a thing or two?

This Week – Bob’s Unique Triumph and The Pro Tour Evolves.

Our regular ‘This Week’ review features a unique event and some stages posts on the PDC’s journey to its current impressive position. March 30th – April 4th has had some superb moments over the years:

30 Years Ago: World Champions Challenge

Imagine an event where every living/active World Champion met in a special one off tournament. Today’s would include Taylor, Lowe, Priestley, Barney, Adams, Part, Hankey and many more.

The (1990) World Champions Challenge was a unique event. All seven WDF/BDO World Champions appeared, six played the first round with Eric Bristow gaining a semi final place via a bye. Kieth Deller narrowly defeated Jockey Wilson, Bob Anderson removed Leighton Rees and Phil Taylor was crushed by John Lowe.

The semis saw Eric defeat Keith, a modicum of revenge for 1983?, and Anderson move past Lowe and into the final. The Limestone Cowboy claimed the crown in fine style, besting Eric by three sets to one, to become the first and Champion of World Champions!

Although the event was staged again the following year, with Priestly being added as the new and eighth World Champ,it did not have the same feel or format. Players such as Mike Gregory, Dave Whitcomb and Peter Evison were added despite not being World Champions.

Bob Anderson therefor lays claim to a truly unique notch on his ‘gunbelt’.

12 Years Ago: Taylor Bags Six of The Best

Phil Taylor

The PDC Pro Tour, as we now know it, was beggining to take firm shape. Every month featured Players Championships, UK Open qualifiers or TV and other events. This week saw Phil Taylor in the middle of a run of six Pro Tour events in a row.The last of these was the Midlands Final of the UK Open qualifiers. The Power was utterly dominant whitewashing Brendan Dolan(8-0) in the final. For good measure, Taylor then claimed the, non ranked, London Masters to make it seven PDC events on the bounce.

4 Years Ago: Development Tour Flexes It’s Muscles

Four Development Tour events were claimed, by four different players, over this weekend, four years ago:

Steve Lennon (Photo: Lawrence Lustig)

Adam Hunt, who has long been known to have superb potential and recently reclaimed his PDC Pro Tour Card, Josh Payne who has already achieved much in top level darts including senior Pro Tour titles and a UK Open qtr-final place, Steve Lennon has also claimed other PDC titles as well as reaching the Quarters of a PDC major. In addition, Steve reached the final of the World Cup with Willie O’Conner. Callum Loose is the fourth member of this impressive group. Though is yet to match the others in terms of measurably achievement, it’s not too late and many report that Callum is just as talented.

It is no surprise to see the level of talent out there. The structure built, by the PDC, over the last decade enables more of it to be developed, and showcased, and later to earn a very good living from “chucking sharp things at a round thing” as some would call it!

Drill Of The Day – Bob’s 27. A Doubling Classic.

If you have been trying, some of the many, new practise drills and games that have been dreamt up, you may be wondering where they came from. SwitchBlade, Middle For Diddle and Sprint (Pro) Half-It were developed by A.I.M:, to assist players they coach,and Kill Bull looks like a Mikko Laiho / Winmau game. Today you can hear, about one of the most famous doubles drills, from the man who invented it!

Bob Anderson Talk’s Through his Bob’s 27 Routine.

Coach’s Comments:

Now I must own up to a bias, Bob is a man after my own heart in many ways. He was also a seriously good player! As important is his understanding of the game and how to improve and or maintain your performance. It is no accident that Bob had a very long Professional career and still plays to a very high standard, in exhibition and competitive matches, aged over 70.

It may also be significant that Bob was one of the first to have a background in a different (athletic) sport. Gerwyn Price has repeated the trick in this era.

Bob’s first point is one of my favourite rules. Have an aim to your practice, don’t just throw aimlessly at the twenties etc. Bobs next tip is to focus heavily on finishing and hitting that double, his ‘Bob’s 27’ is legendary. Watch it through and give it a few goes. This sets your benchmark and then you should add it to your daily routine. Many players use it as part of their early session or near the start of a longer one.

If you want evidence of how this improves your game check out Bob’s efforts in the 1986 World Masters:

The Limestone Cowboy was as good as they come and, in spells, was outstanding! 151,120,150 & 154! Not often you see that even today. These were hit under serious pressure, on a round wired board, in a major tournament and in quick succession.

So if you want to improve your doubles/finishing listen to Bob Anderson!

This is what ‘Coach’ calls a development (or reset) drill. While high level players will play it as a warm up or settling routine, shorter sharper drills can be better for those at the top. Bob’s 27 gives equal focus to every double, great when your developing, whereas sometimes a sharper focus on those that are used most often is more beneficial.

Darts World will show you a few of these over the coming days and weeks.

The Original Storm Dennis: When Priestly Blew Away The Legendary Generation.

We could not help but notice a social media post from Winmau this morning. The item made reference to Dennis Priestley in the context of the current weather front, battering the UK, nick-named Storm Dennis!

The Menace ( Pic: Winmau Design)

30 years ago, Dennis ‘The Menace‘ Priestley blew into the world of elite darts. He reached the News of the World final and then the final of the World Masters (1990) within months of appearing at the highest level. It should be noted that he was already a seasoned county player and was 38/9 years of age.

But it was the during the 1991 World Championship that Dennis really announced his arrival. On his way to claiming the crown he dispatched several notable players with ease. A close tussle in the Qtr-Final with Phil Taylor, was a sign that the next generation, in terms of experience, had arrived. With Taylor out of the way Dennis breezed past Bob Anderson in the semi-final and then whitewashed Eric Bristow 6-0 (sets) in the final.

Priestley demonstrated at least two unique features during the event. Firstly, he demonstrated a total impervious response to the efforts of the big boys to intimidate him. Eric was swatted aside in the final, despite holding all the external cards, with Dennis demonstrating an understated, fully focused style that owed little to the Crafty Cockney’s showman-like ways.

Secondly, and of huge importance, was Dennis’s use of the baord. Rather than a switch to the 19s, for evening the score or if badly blocked, Dennis appeared use treble 18s as a regular scoring alternative. This increased his scoring average and earn’t him additional darts at double, not that he often needed them.

Perhaps due to the ease of watching, for the TV camera, or simply because it seemed new, The Menace generated a lot of attention, from commentators and players alike, indeed the development of the heavy scoring, often switching game, somewhat used by Taylor but, honed by modern players such as Adrian Lewis can be traced to Dennis’s performances.

Next year will doubtless see a resurgence in interest in ‘The Menace’, indeed there has already been a special edition dart released in anticipation, but perhaps this will serve as a reminder that the inaugural PDC World Champion, and the first to win in both codes, was indeed a breath of fresh air, blowing out most of those who had gone before and bringing in a new era.

Hidden Gems: Bob Anderson B&W 18g

In 1988 Bob Anderson claimed his World professional title. At the time his dart was distinct from the other star players of that generation. Bob used a narrow, quite long looking, dart with a smooth, slim nose-cone and a simple, but fine grip.

A fantastic set of Bob Anderson’s classic design. B&W Darts from around 1988.

Spec Sec:

  • B&W 18g Original Bob Anderson
  • 50.8mm Long
  • 5.5mm Width
  • Smooth Nose Cone
  • 95% Tungsten (Natural)
  • Consistent ring grip
  • 0.5cm Stem Blank
After 30 plus years they are still virtually perfect for throwing.

Bob’s dart was produced by B&W darts and had been so for a while. With the benefit of hindsight, they should be considered a premium piece of both manufacture and design. Very few modern darts are made in similar dimensions today, even most stems are two wide for them and leave an annoying lip at the join.

The 95% tungsten content ensured that Bob’s dart could be as thin as possible whilst still being dense enough to carry 18g in a 50mm barrel. The smooth nose was superbly reduced to as close the point junction as possible and certainly close than the early Unicorn models managed. The short blank at the stem end ensured strength was present even at maximum thinness.

The ring grip is quite fine and was originally quite deep. This gives an edge when newer, good for very light holders, but also allows the darts to age and wear with their owner.

But, unusually, Bob switched company to, the biggest name at the time, Unicorn darts. Initially, Unicorn produced a similar dart but shorter and wider (Phase I).

  • Unicorn 20g Bob Anderson (Phase I)
  • 48.5mm Long
  • 6.4mm Width
  • 90% Tungsten (Natural or Gold)
  • Smooth Nose Cone
  • Consistent Ring Grip
  • 0.9mm Stem Blank

Soon Bob switched back to his traditional design. Unicorn produced an updated version (Phase II), of his signature dart. This was closer to the B&W dimensions but regarded as a lower quality version of the B&W original.

Originals in Bob’s favoured weight 18g are highly sought after and change hands for over £100.

As he got older Bob required more grip on the barrel and so changed his grip style with the aid of the Unicorn boffins. The basic barrel is similar but the grip patter created a far less smooth feeling and less consistent dart (Phase 3).

Although relatively popular, Phase 3 is a different dart. It turned out that there was a loyal demand for the original models.

The B&W model has become more & more sought after and even more so with the original case and or accessories. Often similar darts are presented on eBay, or in collectors groups online, as being original B&W Bob Anderson darts. Very few actually are and it pays to have a close look and ask for proof of the length, width. If possible some provenance to back up the dimensions would be ideal.

A ‘tribute’ replica was recently available online.

At least one niche manufacturer is now making a high-quality, hand made replica of this dart. At around the £60 mark, they are a, less costly, nice ‘tribute’ to this classic set. They may not be the last model to be replicated in this way.

Many sports or leisure activities revert back to their classic vintages at times. Perhaps these ‘Hidden Gems’ will see the spotlight again.

If you have a classic set or an unusual collector’s item with a back story, drop us a line here:

A picture/image or two or to illustrate why your fond of them might be useful.

This Week – Darts World’s FlashBack Moments.

The thirteenth to the twentieth of October has included some exceptional moments in darting history. Perhaps the greatest of all such moments was produced by John Lowe (MBE) in 1984.

John Lowe is presented with his MBE.

‘Old Stoneface’ had looked like the most likely candidate to hit the first televised 9 dart leg and claim a slice of sporting immortality. That unemotional demeanour and fluid but steady style seemed unrufflable.

The platform was the MFI World Matchplay. One of the many TV events that had sprung up during darts’ first golden era (the 1970s – late 1980s), the MFI featured many of the worlds best and winning it was a tough road.

The sponsors had offered £100,000 for the first televised perfect leg and, in his match vs Keith Deller, Lowe delivered. His route of 180, 180, T17, T18 & D18 was one not seen since. Have another look at it here:

Not wanting to be seen as lucky, John vowed to win the event, which he duly did. Lowe claimed the £100,000 plus £4k for the highest checkout as well as a winners cheque of £12,000. A combined total of £116,000 not bad in 1984!

Daryl Gurney first rose to prominence during this week in 2012. ‘Superchin’ claimed the Tom Kirby memorial event in the corresponding week seven years ago. The TK is a very taxing event to win, with the final being played during the World Grand Prix, and carries a place in the PDC world champs as a testament to its standing. Winners have often gone on to great success.

Gurney’s victory brought him to the attention of the MDA management team, who thought he may have what it took to play on the PDC tour. Despite a slow start, they turned out to be correct! Gurney has claimed two major TV titles, a plethora of other crowns and a place in the worlds top five.

Perhaps this years winner Kean Barry will go on to emulate Gurney or match Micheal Mansell, another Kirby memorial winner, who has also had great success on the PDC tours.

This week also marked a milestone in what would prove to be the purple patch of Bob Anderson’s storied career. In 1987 Bob claimed the first major, The MFI World Matchplay, of what turned into a superb run. In defeating Cliff Lazarenko (Qtr), Mike Gregory (Semi) and John Lowe (Final) Bob won twelve sets and dropped only two.

The ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ was having a decent year already, reaching multiple finals and semis, but this victory was the turning point. During the next three months, he went on to retain the World Masters and then storm to a superb World Championship triumph early in 1988.

Over the next few years, Anderson claimed almost every available title, was ranked No.1 in the world, helped form the PDC and assured his place as one of the true legends of darts.

Mic Drop! Tales from the Open Road, with John Fowler.

A version of this article first appeared in the July edition of Darts World magazine. This and other editions are available here:

Hello to all you dart players, fans and readers out there in ‘DartsWorld’. Welcome to the first of my monthly accounts of life on the road as a professional darts MC. By way of introduction, I would like to give you an insight into how I got involved on the microphone as opposed to the playing side of our wonderful sport.

I started off by helping as a referee for Oxfordshire’s home county matches. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy it to start with, but the more I undertook the more I got into it. Then in January 2009, while playing for Oxfordshire in Yorkshire, someone mentioned that I should think about organising an exhibition with me as the compère. It was one of those “at the bar” chats that planted a seed. Fortunately, former World No5 Dennis Smith, was a teammate at the time and he offered his services for a reasonable fee and I decided to make it happen. 

So, on the 2nd of May 2009 at Bicester Town FC about 40 spectators joined us for a good fun evening of darts and humour. Later that year I organised my 2nd event at the same venue. This time Jamie Caven was the star attraction and, as always with ‘Jabba’ another great evening ensued.

By the end of that year, my first outside booking arrived and what a start I would be MCing for a 3 time World Champion! Despite my initial nerves Martin Adams proved a pleasure to work with and we have done so several times since. Over the following two-three years, I organised and hosted more exhibitions in the Bicester area, including with the late Eric Bristow MBE, Steve Beaton, Wayne Mardle, Peter Manley and many more.  Didcot GWRSA became almost a second home where we also hosted great events too, with World Champions and other great players.

When I, unfortunately, lost my beautiful mother in July 2012, just 10 months after my wonderful father had passed away, I decided that I was going to try to make a career as a professional MC. The first thing I did was to ring my good friend and former World Champion, Bob Anderson to ask his opinion on my plans. When he replied with an immediate positive response my mind was made up.

Over the next few months, I will tell you about some of my fantastic experiences at home and abroad, including my trips to Japan, unforgettable journeys and experiences. In the last 5 years, I have visited Germany forty-five times and this figure is rising all the time. I visit Switzerland for the annual, this year on the 2nd weekend in June, and I’ve many other great events coming up in the next few months. I hope that you have enjoyed this introduction. Meanwhile, I shall be on the ‘Open Road’. See you at an event soon, I hope.