One of Scotland’s most unlikely sporting heroes is being celebrated in a new play. Former double world champion Jocky Wilson is the subject of a new creation by sister and brother team, Jane Livingstone and Jonathan Cairney, entitled: ‘Jocky Wilson Said’.
Wilson was crowned world champion twice, in 1982 and 1989, where he defeated the legendary duo of John Lowe and Eric Bristow in the respective finals. However, he was forced to give up darts in the mid 90’s due to a battle with diabetes; before he was diagnosed with Emphysema in 2009.
He lived his final years as a virtual recluse at his home in Kirkcaldy, before passing away in March 2012 at the age of 62. However, almost five years on from his death, the legendary Scot is set to be commemorated in an exciting story which focuses on how one of the most unlikely sporting heroes overcome many challenges to reach the pinnacle of his sport.
A spokesperson for the play said: “It’s 1979 and rising Scottish darts star Jocky Wilson is in America to play an exhibition match. He misses his ride to the next venue and, flat broke, sets out to hitch hike across the Nevada desert.
With only a cactus for company, the diminutive Fifer, reflects on his life and career…‘Jocky Wilson’ Said tells the story of one of sport’s most unlikely and most loved heroes who overcame many challenges to become a double world champion.”
Wilson, from Kirkcaldy in Fife, only turned professional at the age of 29, after winning £500 in a tournament at Butlins holiday camp in Ayr. Nevertheless, this sparked his rise to prominence as one of the most loveable characters in the game, with undoubtedly one of the most distinctive throwing actions in world darts.
Whilst his most coveted victories came at the World Championships, he enjoyed a number of other high-profile triumphs. He won the British Professional on four occasions, whilst he was also crowned a double British Matchplay champion.
The Scot was also part of the group of top professionals that split away from the ruling British Darts Organisation in 1993 to form the WDC, which is now known as the PDC. Wilson only spent three years in the WDC before his sudden retirement, but his highlight came at the 1993 WDC Skol UK Matchplay, where he lost in the final to Dennis Priestley.
The play will be performed at the Oran Mor in Glasgow, and writer Jonathan Cairney insisted that whilst some elements of the play are imagined, the production itself is based on a real-life incident that occured during the early stages of his career.
“One story we really picked up on was when he was over in America for an exhibition match. He missed his lift to get to the next destination and he ended up trying to hitchhike 400 miles across the Nevada desert.
We thought that would be an ideal setting to place him in that difficult situation and see how he reacts to it. He’s such a warm character, people root for him. He’s the classic underdog.”
Wilson will be played by Actor Grant O’Rourke, who praised Wilson’s tenacity and admitted that starring in this production has given him a new-found respect for darts. O’Rourke claimed: “The man had an unbelievable will to win. He had an amazing amount of determination to succeed and become world champion.”
“It has given me a new respect for darts. To be able to throw a dart from 8ft away into a target that is about a centimetre wide, often with thousands of pounds hanging on one throw, the pressure is incredible,” O’Rourke added.
Jocky Wilson was one of Scotland’s most iconic sporting heroes, but a man that has followed in his footsteps is Gary Anderson, the current PDC world number two and two-time world champion. However, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ expressed his regret at never having met his darting idol.
Anderson said: “I think he finished just as I started in the BDO but I’ve heard plenty of stories about him. I’m probably still like what Jocky was. I still like a good laugh and a bit of carry-on but some of the youngsters now are darts and darts-only. You meet anyone now and talk about Scottish darts players and Jocky Wilson is always the first name they come out with.”
The first staging of ‘Jocky Wilson Said’ took place yesterday (Monday 20th March), and it will run to March 25th at the Oran Mor. Hopefully it will be a fitting tribute to one of the most loved dart players of all time.