Column #HR245 Tommy Cox – a giant in a game that way too often rewards midgets

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Column HR245
Tommy Cox – a giant in a game that way too often reward midgets

In just days, the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day. In case you’re ever asked to appear on Jeopardy, India, Canada, Liberia, Norfolk Island and Netherlands also have a Thanksgivings Day although not on the same day.

In North America on this Thanksgiving Day we thank the Brits for giving us darts (even though the game actually started with the American Indians).

Darts is a sport that captivates our lives, increases beer sales to all those it touches and pretty much makes us sports outcasts, second only to bowlers (10-pin) which rank behind, but ahead of politicians, lawyers and used car salesman.

The first Thanksgiving in the America, then a Colony, was celebrated in 1621.

It was only natural that as escapees from England, who love a bit of sport, the Colonists would enjoy the native game of “deerahontas assahontas redahontas targitohotas.” Translated into English it was called “Deer’s Ass Red Target.” That game required each player to throw little arrows at a deer’s hind end with the best score a “deersarse” – now called a “bullseye.”

Lacking women, which led to problems that best not be discussed here, the game was for men only. One native woman, of somewhat questionable moral demeanor, named “Warrenahontas,” kept score as she was proficient in numbers. The games, called a “tournament,” were won by John “The Joiner” of Chesterfield. He hopped the next ship back to England where he went on to convince the Oche Brothers, brewers of the finest meade, that the game would be great for the pubs (as witch burning was dying out). He also suggested calling the game DARTS which worked out just fine.

The dart players of the world have a lot to be thankful for every day. In England and Europe each day should be “Thanks Barry Hearn Day.” PDC players should also thank managers Tommy Cox, Dick Allix and John “I’d Murder a Pint of Lager” Markovic and the 14 darters that formed the World Darts Council (now PDC) in 1993. The Old Dart Coach’s pal John Markovic passed away many years ago.

Now, another of the founders, Tommy Cox, has exited stage right at the young age of 72.

This is an extremely sad day for us all at the PDC, said Chairman Barry Hearn. Tommy’s contribution to our formation can never be under-stated and will never be forgotten.

PDC Director Marcus Robertson, who worked with Tommy for over 30 years, said: Tommy Cox was, more than any other individual, the founding father of the modern day PDC and the sport of darts.

The PDC wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for Tommy. He was so strong – bombastic in a way – and such a great character and he believed in the cause, which made everyone else stay strong around him, including me, came from Rod Harrington, PDC Director.

PDC Director Marcus Robertson spoke of Tommy’s contribution to the sport. Tommy Cox was, more than any other individual, the founding father of the modern day PDC and the sport of darts.

Not that anyone asked but the Old Dart Coach hardily concurs.

Make no mistake Tommy Cox was a hard man. What General George Patten was to war Cox was to darts. In both cases it was “my way or the highway.” If Tommy was in the woods challenged by a bear the bear would be calling for help.

With the build of a fuzzy teddy bear his scowl sent out the warning, “Don’t mess with me.” His look could cut a diamond, melt a glacier or turn a darting super star into a quivering mass of Jell-O.   With that as a foundation Tommy had some great friends and they were friends for life. Well, except for the ODC which ran afoul of Tommy many years ago. When they’d meet in passing the ODC would get a “hello” with less warmth than a nekked Eskimo’s ass ice fishing.

Those friends that sent condolences include Mr. David Brook who wrote, Met him over 30 years ago when Federation Brewery became closely associated with darts… proud and privileged to have been his friend. Goodbye my friend.

When running a tournament Tommy Cox embodied the Michael Corleone statement, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Friend, foe or someone in between it didn’t make any difference. The rules were the rules and they were to be followed or else – and “or else” was not an attractive option.

John Part echoed the ODC’s opinion when he wrote, I agree. We had a good relationship even with the occasional heated arguments. I think it was very 50/50 but Tommy was always the guy in the trenches with the players keeping things orderly and going.

Judge Judy and Hall of Fame boxing referee Joe Cortez both used the term “Firm but fair.” They didn’t know it, but they were painting the perfect description of Tommy Cox.

Tommy Cox, despite his gruff exterior, was willing to lend a helping hand to a beginner. Former English International Jayne Kempster remembers, I can honestly say that Tommy was one of the primary reasons why I got involved in darts. He encouraged me to get into the sport and it’s something I’ll never forget.

As a person goes through life, they are sometimes given choices. Paths to follow, highways to traverse. If you’re given the choice of herding cats or running a PDC floor event take “herding carts” without a second thought. It’s the easiest road to travel. Tommy Cox chose running PDC floor events, which did for 20 years.

It would be impossible not to hold Tommy Cox in the highest regard with the respect he earned and deserved. He was a “one off,” a force to be reckoned and man with true and absolute convictions.

Tommy Cox was a true giant in a game that way too often rewards midgets.

He now joins Eric, John, Leighton, Jocky. Nicky, Ricky, Danny, Dick, Bill and a host of darters watching down on the game they made. No doubt that at some point a few pints will be consumed and a game of darts will break out.

With Tommy Cox there they had better do it right …OR ELSE

We have so much for which to thank these men.

Stay thirsty my friends.

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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.
Howie Reed

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