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.

This Week – Darts World’s Selection of Darting Milestones.

Selecting highlights from the week of February 3-9th would have been thought to be slim pickings until recently. However, the ever expanding global darts calendar and the superb archive of darts records provides some interesting flashbacks:

35 Years Ago:

This week 35 years ago saw the start of a great year for Dave Whitcombe!

Dave Whitcombe claimed the WDF Finnish Open, in 1985, defeating “Big” Cliff Lazerenko in the final. Dave was at the peak of his powers in the mid 80’s and would go on to claim the World Masters later the same year. He is often overlooked in the annals of the game’s history. But to claim major titles during that period was not exactly easy. Dave claimed also added The News of the World to his role of honour and deserves to be acknowledged.

10 Years Ago:

Jaws romped to a Pro Tour title in Gibraltar this week.

Colin’Jaws’ Lloyd got the 2010 season of to a flying start when he claimed the first Pro Tour event of the year. That year the first weekend PDC was held in Gibraltar, Lloyd, the former World No.1, blitzed through the field to claim the title. His run included a 6-0 whitewash over new World Champion Peter Wright. Although Lloyd was beginning to struggle overall he again showed just how talented he is.

5 Years Ago:

MVG was utterly dominant in the non TV events five years ago.
Photo : Lawrence Lustig / PDC

Micheal Van Gerwen was in imperious form in the middle of the last decade. An example was his remarkable run in the UK Open Qualifiers in 2015. Out of the six Pro Tour events, that selected the field for the first major of the year, MVG won four and reached the final of a fifth. His run of four consecutive wins started this week five years ago. In the sixth event Van Gerwen could only manage a poor effort of a place in the last four!

The remarkable Larry Butler returned to the top of world darts with a bang in 2015. The “Bald Eagle” kicked off what would be an almost incredible year with victory in the Camillia Classic in North America. Butler, World Matchplay Champion in 1994, would go on to reach the final of the World Masters and earn a place in the Grand Slam of Darts. He also qualified for the BDO World Championships and reached the last 16. All after a decade away from the top flight, and at the age of 57, as we now know from Wayne Warren age is no barrier to darting success, The Bald Eagle reminded us of that in 2015.

The Bald Eagle! Larry Burler showed us that late 50’s is not too late. Wayne Warren listened to the advise!

This Week:

The 2020 Pro Tour kicks off this coming weekend, who will break through this year to challenge the established order? Every year the Pro Tour standard is met by more and more of the players.

The days of a player winning four out of six events may well be over. But other highlights will be made and benchmarks set. This week will look for them and try to make sure they are acknowledged.

This Week is a regular look at darting events throughout the history of recorded darts.

This Week – Darts World’s Regular Slice of Darting History.

A look back at darting landmarks which took place between the 26th January & February the 2nd……

The King? Still ranked at 21 by the PDC 23 years after first significant title.

23 Years Ago:

Mervyn King secured his first top class event with victory, lifting the crown at the Dutch Open. King, still ranked 21 in the world, took another seven years before claiming his first ‘Major’ title (2004 World Masters). King is yet to claim a PDC major although the International Darts League (King won in 2005) was a joint event. This years Dutch Open takes place this coming weekend with new BDO World Champion Wayne Warren looking to claim more silverware.

10 Years Ago:

The Asset. Paul Nicholson’s career highlight came a decade ago!

Paul Nicholson claimed the Players Championship Finals: In what was probably ‘The Asset’s finest hour he defeated Merv King 13-11 in the final. His defeat of Phil Taylor in the semi final was a huge moment. Winning a dramtic last leg seemed to mark the emergence of Paul as a true threat to the biggest names. Sadly, it also lead to the much hyped “……he better bring his A-Game, cause I’m gonna put him to bed….” narrative of which there was only going to be one winner.

5 Years Ago:

The Silencer – Will Jeff Smith cement his place at Darts’ top table?

Jeff Smith (who returned to the PDC Pro Tour this month via Q School) took the Las Vegas Open, defeating Darin Young in the title match. ‘The Silencer’ had threatened to break through previously but this win marked a transition for Jeff. Within twelve months the likeable Canadian would reach the last four of the BDO world Championships. he went one better the next year, losing out to Scott Mitchell in the final, and cemented a place at Darts’ top table. Jeff’s World Cup (Singles) Title in 2017 was probably the high-point of his, late starting but, eventful career so far.

This Year:

New World Champ Snakebite will take a bow at ‘The Masters’ this weekend. PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG

The darts calendar gets fuller every year, this year the Iceland International Games even featured a January darts event. The Dutch Open is up coming and together with the Romanian and Las Vegas Opens may provide future year’s landmarks. Will the PDC’s annual curtain raiser ‘The Masters’ provide ‘tales of darting do’ in future years, the 2020 will feature the first event played by Peter Wright as World Champion!