It is fair to say that modern darts owes a lot to the likes of Bob Anderson.

‘The Limestone Cowboy’ was one of the sport’s top players in the late 1980s. He became the first player to win the World Masters three times on the spin, adding the world title in 1988. Then, in 1992, he and 15 peers formed the World Darts Council (WDC). After years of legal wrangling, it would become the PDC – the rest is history.

Anderson still competes on the exhibition circuit, and follows the game closely. Speaking with Live Darts, the Somerset ace expressed his surprise and delight at the way the game has developed.

“I could see the game growing, and there were endless possibilities – given the right captain of the ship, should I say,” he said.

“I’m perhaps surprised that it’s grown as fast as it has, as quickly as it has.

“But I’m delighted it has. Very proud, every time I look at the boys and watch the shows.

“I see the viewing figures, and I see the popularity around the world.

“I think in some small way, I had something to do with that.”

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Michael van Gerwen won £500,000 for winning the PDC World Championship in January – a sure sign of the game’s progression since 1992. Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Fine margins

Of course, the famous split was a highly risky move. The WDC could have folded, leaving the game’s top players without any means of showing their talent. But it succeeded, morphing into the PDC and becoming the sport’s big money maker. Failure was never an option, says Anderson.

“We did stick our neck on the block,” the 71-year-old recalled.

“I try not to [think about failure]!

“I’m sure that there was that possibility. But I was equally confident in my own ability, and the ability of my co-founders, to carry the day. And that we did.”

“Everything wrong, but everything right”

“Jocky and I crossed swords on several occasions.

“It was inevitable that we weren’t going to see eye-to-eye. I was six foot three, and he was only five foot seven!”

There was a distinct twinkle in Anderson’s eye when the subject of Jocky Wilson arose. One of darts’ most famous sons, the belligerent and brilliant Scot was recently the subject of a tell-all BBC documentary. His remarkable career was built on both boundless talent and a combustible attitude that was both his making and his downfall. Despite the odd clash, Anderson had nothing but good things to say of Wilson.

“He was an absolute dynamo. A tremendously talented, pugnacious – sometimes offensive – but what a dart player.

“When I first started watching, and joining the ranks of the top boys, I watched Jocky throw.

“His eye-hand coordination was unbelievable.

“You’d never look at Jocky and say ‘that’s the style you wanted to be copying’. No, no, no.

“He did everything wrong, but got everything right.”

Jocky the contender?

The Premier League now acts as the star-studded assembly of the game’s big names and characters. Anderson has no doubt that Wilson would’ve been an ideal fit – though hopes that he’d have a shout as well.

“Never mind Jocky, I’d like to play in the modern Premier League!

“We’d all like to turn the clock back.

“Jocky, the character he was, why not? It would’ve been great.”

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Author: Ed McCosh