Column #HR69 The Spirit of Jocky

Monday, April 9, 2012
Column HR69
The Spirit of Jocky

The Old Dart Coach isn’t real big on poetry. This fact alone should surprise no one. Despite being a proud graduate of the Harvard of the West his poetic side starts and ends with phrases like: “There once was a man from Nantucket.”

The ODC is living proof that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear… although why one would want to is a mystery in any case.

Therefore it’s strange that on the day that the ODC made his return to the Pattaya Darts League, of which more will be reported later, he thought of the poem by educator and poet Hughes Means written in 1889. Of course the ODC didn’t know that “The Little Man Who Wasn’t There” was written by Hughes Means or, for that matter, it was written in 1889. He didn’t have too because Wikipedia did.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man that wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away.

Those opening lines tell of a ghost of a man roaming a haunted house scaring the beetle juice out of the author. As the ODC toed the oche on his return to the Pattaya Darts League the small section of his mind not damaged by “demon rum” thought of Jocky Wilson. For it was on this day that Jocky Wilson was laid to rest in the town of Kirkcaldy before a full house of 400 including his darting contemporary Eric Bristow.

Bristow was the only member of the elite club of darting greats to show up. He surely felt Wilson’s presence and spirit. Shame on those of Wilson’s contemporaries that failed to attend to pay their respects to this giant of the sport. If they were too busy with their own self-centered indulgences they violated the “unspoken code” of the darting fraternity and should be tossed out on their ample behinds.

During the service, conducted by Denis Madden, mourners heard, “When it came to the crunch, what this man’s life was all about was his wife, his children and grandchildren. That’s what mattered. He was a lovely, quiet, firm family man.” Nice thoughts but to darters, more importantly, he was a member of the darting fraternity. Just as the opening lines of Mean’s poem tell of a ghost of a man roaming a haunted house, surely as the service came to a close the “darting spirit” of Wilson roamed the room. That was the Wilson spirit that embodied the ODC’s mind on a very “fluid” night in Pattaya.

As the ODC toed the oche in his triumphant return to the Pattaya Darts League he did so in the spirit of a man that, in his own mind, never embarrassed a fellow darter or a member of the fraternity without due cause. This fraternity has no secret handshake, no mystic symbols except for doubles and triples, and has only one requirement for membership: a love and respect for the game and its players.

The caveat here is that players must earn a place at the table. Like the Alabama football program there are no “walk-ons.” Too often wankers that play once a week consider themselves to be members of the club. Take a hike posers. You don’t understand the unwritten rules and what it means to be a real darts player.

As one member of the worldwide club, Bill S., would write upon hearing of Jocky’s passing, “I met him once during one of his USA visits long ago. One thing I recall is that he was definitely a ‘jolly-old-soul.’” That was true up to a point. Once that point was reached and passed “Katy bar the door ‘cause all bets are off.”

With a few bottles of San Miguel Light the ODC had warned up for his return with the Fat Swede, Mr. Stephan Lord, as the later engulfed a couple of sandwiches – one a toasted cheese and the other toasted tuna fish. No accounting for taste. The San Miguel was the perfect way to regenerate the fading talent of the once average ODC.

The ODC drew for his singles match a disagreeable person that had suffered a stroke which left his left arm hanging like an old gent’s reproductive organ. He was able to throw darts as his teelock (which in Thailand usually means paid girlfriend) would hand him one dart at a time and retrieve them after his throw.

The ODC was in a festive mood attired in white shorts, Hawaiian shirt – made by the tailor to the stars Wil Taylor formerly of Soi 6 Pattaya Beach – low cut black Bass tennies, and armed with his signature darts topped with the new John Kramer COSMO auto flights. “Bring it on baby!”

After six warm up darts the scowling opponent said,

“We play.”

He went for the bull hitting “green.”

“Hey you’re not supposed to do that?” cried the ODC with mock concern.

The ODC almost hit the green but alas missed. It would probably be best in this case if the “he threw” and then the “ODC threw” portion of this narrative be dispensed. It was not pretty but to his credit the ODC remained cheerful despite the rude and obnoxious behavior of his opponent.

The ODC found himself wanting 122 to finish, with the “jerk” at a double. Then the “other” ODC and the spirit of Jocky Wilson kicked in.

“F–k him! I’ll give him a little lesson in darts with the triple 20, 12 and dead red bull. Then I’ll do an in your face with a ‘Take that you wanker.’”

Alas, Jocky must have been watching and enjoying the show as the first dart went true as a surveyor’s line into the triple 20. That was followed by a rather dodgy single 12 but a single 12 none-the-less – which left only the red bull. It was a gorgeous dart tossed with laser-like accuracy that flew true into the green bull on the wire with the red.

“Phooey… darn it,” was all that was said.

From that point on the ODC muddled about with 22, then 11, and then 9 – when the gentleman finally hit a double one on his last dart after scouting that double with an almost double 13 and double 15. Still in a good mood the ODC extended his full hand (not just a finger as was probably called for) saying,

“Nice game”

“Your are King of Toilet,” responded the victor.

“Excuse me?” asked the ODC.

“You are King of Toilet.”

It’s at precisely this point that “other side” of Jocky Wilson had to be smiling down from above. From the ODC expletives flew like bullets from a Gatling gun. Along with some very explicit language were challenges to step out side and get different parts of said jerk’s body removed in the same manner that might be used by Vinnie “the Ax” and Carmine “the Nose.”

After a not too brief cooling off period, assisted by a few more San Miguels and a nice cigar, the ODC returned to lead his team to victory. His crowing glory was a 20-18 and double 18 to leave 32 punctuated with “How do you like that s–t?” He no like.

On the following Thursday Mr. Stefan Lord made his initial 2012 appearance in the Pattaya Darts League when the Roxy Team traveled to Soi Yamoto to play Wawky Tawkys. As is Mr. Lord’s custom he never brings darts, just his presence. During warm ups Mr. Lord used various sets of borrowed darts to toss the 100s and 140s that are so expected of a legend of the game. As the ODC had been less than successful in his previous single he asked his friend, Mr. Lord…

“Would you throw my darts a couple of times and train them to hit triple 20s?”

“No. Even I can’t train your darts. You are hopeless.”

Which harkens back to the days of playing college baseball when the ODC was moved from the outfield to first base during a game after the first baseman made a couple of errors. The first ball hit to the ODC was fumbled with the runner reaching first. An error. At the end of the inning when the ODC returned to the bench the coach got on him pretty good.

“Coach it’s not his fault. I’ve got first base so f–ked up no one can play it,” said the removed player.

Just like the ODC’s darts – they are so messed up that even the Lord can’t fix them. Mr. Lord would play his singles against a person who said,

“I always idolized you. You are a legend.”

In true Mr. Lord fashion he then beat him silly in 16 darts. No too Chablis for a once-a-year player. The ODC, without Mr. Lord training his darts, was spectacular in winning his singles using the square root of 8 for total dart tally, then got the aforementioned Mr. Lord to a double in the pairs and was instrumental in not missing a turn in the beer leg. All this was accomplished with nary a “man-hug” amidst a large volume of both “aiming fluid” and “group tighter.”

Meanwhile on the same evening in Nottingham the Premier League was making its Thursday night house call. Phil Taylor fell behind 0-2 against Premier League rookie Andy Hamilton. Taylor had a chance for an 8-6 win when after 9 darts he wanted 42. Two missed darts at 16 allowed Hamilton to use the bull out from 86. At 7-6 up Taylor, like the ODC, missed the bull. Hamilton returned the favor missing the bull on 84 which gave Taylor a shot at double 8 which he took for the 8-6 win. James Wade led Adrian Lewis 4-2 but couldn’t close the deal, losing 8-5. Gary Anderson continued his dismal play losing to Simon Whitlock 8-2. Raymond van Barneveld continued his winning ways 8-6 over Kevin Painter. This year’s Premier League has been dominated as no other by Phil Taylor. Consider that Taylor is +37 in legs won where his nearest competitor, Simon Whitlock, is -1. If this was the Little League the mercy rule would be in effect.

All this prattle begs the question in the week when he was laid to rest: where would Jocky Wilson rather have been? Would he rather have been playing in the Premier League or at Wawky Tawkys?

Whatever the answer he would have been welcomed with open arms at either. Hopefully those at both venues felt his presence and that this made the week a little special. With apologies to Hughes Means here’s a little poem to Jocky Wilson.

Yesterday was clear and fair
I felt a man that wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I hope and pray he never goes away.

From the Book of the Lord (Stefan that is), “Whatever the question the answer is beer.”

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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