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The night Wick staged a clash of darts titans

By SPP Reporter

Darts fans across Caithness were saddened last week to learn of the sudden death last Thursday evening at the age of 60 of five times world darts champion Eric Bristow who suffered a heart attack. Nicknamed the Crafty Cockney, Bristow was the biggest name in darts throughout the 1980,s with his biggest rival being Scotland’s Jocky Wilson. Both met in a £1,500 winner-take-all head-to-head challenge in the Assembly Rooms Wick on Thursday November 25, 1982 before a sell out 600 capacity crowd. who organised the event, recalls a memorable night. Councillor Willie Mackay

The challenge between the darts giants was arranged nearly a year before the event took place in Wick when myself and Denis Hill, proprietor of Wick’s Nethercliffe Hotel, got to hear that the pair were planning to tour Scotland in November 1982.

Mr Hill put the money up well in advance with the tour organisers and I started to plan the match.

During the months that followed, myself and Denis couldn’t believe our luck as Jocky Wilson won the prestigious Embassy World Darts title and Eric Bristow lifted the Unipart British Darts Championship.

Demand for the 600 tickets rocketed with darts fans from as far away as Kirkwall, Tongue, Embo and Dingwall wanting to be there on the night to see the two legends battle it out on stage in the Assembly Rooms.

The evening got underway with a fantastic hour of pre-match entertainment coming from the Dynamos local country and western band followed by disco dancing demonstrations by the Marrellian School of Dancing.

The build up began with two pipers from the Wick RBL pipe band Tommy Allan and Andrew Reid piping Eric Bristow into the packed hall to the tune Scotland the Brave to receive a standing ovation.

What followed next raised the Assembly Rooms roof as the pipers brought Jocky Wilson through the huge crowd on to the stage to Flower of Scotland.

To warm Eric and Jocky up on the dartboard, several local players got to challenge the darting giants to a 1001 up one leg, namely George Sutherland of Wick, Ian Mackay of Thurso, William Campbell of Halkirk, Tommy Bain of Wick, Ray Sinclair of Wick and Jock Swanson of Watten.

Best performance came from Ray Sinclair against Eric getting down to a three dart finish on 127.

The big clash over the best of 15 legs of 1001 up had the capacity crowd in full voice as Eric took the first leg in 31 darts.

Jockey levelled before going ahead by taking the next two legs only for Bristow to respond in kind to tie at 3-3.

Wilson then moved up a gear taking the next two legs in 31 and 27 darts.

With the loss of only one more leg, the World champion went into overdrive taking the score to 7-4.

Bristow knew now he had to win the next leg to stay in the match but Jocky Wilson had the fans delirious as he banged in two x 140s, five x 100s and a maximum 180 to leave a two dart 41.

There was complete silence in the Assembly Rooms as Jocky came to the oche and the hall erupted as he put home a single nine and double 16 to win the match.

Both players got a standing ovation and were presented with giant-sized three foot trophies by Mr Robbie Thomson Dunnet area rep for Scottish Brewers to mark the occasion.

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