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.

Unsung Heroes: Paul Cook – The Shy Major Champion.

Darts World’s regular look at those players whose career or contribution to the sport of darts may have been overlooked, under-credited or faded with time.

Psul Cook (right) with Johnny Haines (left) picking up yet another trophy!

To those supposedly “in the know”, Bobby George is the only person to win The News of the World event without dropping a leg.

Some folk from Swindon, quite a few darters from around the country, and a few friends of Paul Cook will tell you differently. 

Cookie, as he is known, won the News of the World tournament in 1990, defeating Steve Hudson 2-0 in the final. For many years it was assumed that Paul would be remembered as the last ever winner. Indeed, many consider him to be just that. The 1997 reboot lasted one year and was certainly not a continuation of a great run spanning 1948 – 1990. 

The News of The World: Darts’ Original
People’s Championship.

Many testify that he puts down his darts after a game or event and does not pick them up again until the next event. Sometimes this appears to be a ten-year wait! Not many would be able to think this or have the confidence to carry it out. 

It is quite shocking, but typical of Cookie, that his record (on begins with that major triumph at the News of the World event. He seems to appear from thin air and disappear just as quickly! So far, his career is 27 years long and runs to just one page of event results. Following his sensational 1990 win, there is a six-year gap where he appears not to have thrown a competitive dart! 

Cookie resurfaces at the 1996 Antwerp Open and reaches the last 16. The eight players who reached the qtr finals were basically the best in the world, including the winner Bob Anderson, Dennis Priestley and more, so it seems safe to assume Cookie was again in superb shape. In the next fifteen months, Cookie reached the last 40 of the World Matchplay twice, and the last eight of the world pairs with long-time friend Dennis Smith. Late in 1997, Cook disappeared again. 

Cookie claiming another Open title.

A decade later, in 2007, Paul reappeared in the qualifying stages of the Las Vegas Classic and a handful of other events. He managed to qualify for the UK Open in 2009, where he was defeated by Mark Lawrence, who reached the Qtr finals. For the next few years, only a few open events are recorded – with mixed results. 

Randomly, in 2015, up pops Paul again, with a win in the Plymouth Open. Attempts at a higher level appear to fail after a few attempts at BDO qualifications. Not to be written off, Paul entered Q School in 2017. After taking a while to settle he embarked on a thrilling run on the final day. He finally bowed out in the last 16 after being defeated by Paul Nicholson who gained his tour card by winning his next game. 

I certainly hope we have not seen or heard the last of Cookie, perhaps the most unsung major champion of them all. He is a truly lovely man and an incredibly talented player. If you’re lucky enough to bump into him, ask him to tell you the tale of what happened when they came looking to reclaim his News of the World Trophy. 

Look out for sightings at opens in the South West or just about any other event; you never know where he will pop up next! 

JR Lott writes for Darts World and other publications.

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