I know we’re a hard-core bike racing site, but bear with me – Scotland doesn’t produce too many world champions – and of those, none I can think of ever came from Kirkcaldy. Jocky Wilson was a legend and to hear of his death made me very sad – believe it or not, I always wanted to interview the man from the ‘China Town’ area of Kirkcaldy.
I grew up just around the corner from where Jocky latterly lived, and died.
I lived in Cross Street, and then there was Collyer Street, Grant Street and Simpson Street.
But don’t bother to look for the names on a Kirkcaldy street map – in an effort to gentrify what was a notorious area, the council changed all the street names.
Wilson played his darts in the Lister pub – now a shop – which stood just at the bottom of Collyer Street, next door to the Victoria Hospital.
He turned pro and went on to become world champion twice; these BBC links tell the story – and check out the video of Jocky’s second world title win.
Latterly, an unwell Wilson lived the life of a recluse, reporters and journalists would call but his Argentinean wife, Malvina would always turn them away with the words that Jocky had nothing to say to them.
I fancied that as an ex-China Town boy with a Lang Toun accent just like his, I might have a chance – sadly, I’ll never get the chance to test that.
The TV companies offered him large sums of money to be a darts pundit, Jocky declined, saying that he’d just spend the money on drink and make himself even more ill.
My Jocky Wilson story comes courtesy of Kris, my friend and boss at the Six Day Races.
He was up at Colorado Springs for the 1986 Worlds; his Danish colleague decided they should go for a beer.
They found a small ‘middle of nowhere’ bar and to the Dane’s delight there was a dart board, the owner was happy to provide arrows and soon the darts were flying and the beer flowing.
The bar man picked up on Kris’s accent; ‘where you from?‘
‘Scotland,’ Kris replied.
‘Hey! do you know Jocky Wilson?‘ said the American, his voice full of respect.
Jocky Wilson, Kirkcaldy boy and double world champion, rest in peace.
* * *
Cavendish’s DNF in Milan-Sanremo
Vik’s been on my case – the subject of the rants (there have been a few) is Mark Cavendish.
I had Cav down in my Primavera preview as a favourite – what I said was that if he made it over the Cipressa then he’d win.
I was being optimistic, he didn’t reach the Cipressa in the peloton, he was distanced on la Manie.
It was apparent that he was struggling, the helicopter shot zoomed in and you could see that he was a man in distress.
Despite the best efforts of his Sky team mates, it was obvious – if you know your Primaveras – that he was doomed.
The speeds along that Ligurian coast road are insane – Team Type’s Kiel Reijnen who I interviewed after the race was telling me that at times his computer was registering 70 kph.
No sooner was Cav ‘oot the back’ than a scornful Vik was on the phone; ‘told you!‘
Vik’s contention is that Cav is carrying too much weight – and in some of the pictures from the race it certainly looks that way.
But this contradicts what my Sky ‘insider’ told me; ‘Cav’s the lightest he’s ever been.‘
That said, I guess he’s not going to say; ‘Cav’s toiling to get his tummy down.‘
Another of my mentors, Ivan who speaks fluent Flemish was watching a Sporza (Belgian sports journalism network) chat show after the race.
Lotto manager Marc Sergeant and QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere were both asked why they thought Cav had been dropped – both agreed that he was at least two kilos too heavy.
The Manxman’s saving grace was to come this afternoon on that long flat run in to Wevelgem.
On both ascents of the Kemmel he was still there, safe in the bunch – but as anyone who has ridden the cobbled classic will tell you, the danger point comes just after the summit.
The natural tendency is to ease, but those nasty Belgians know that and the ‘big digs’ come immediately after the prime line.
And so it proved, Greg van Avermaet ‘dug,’ Cav was too far back, a gap opened and the Belgian commentator gave us a few lines from the late, great Roy Orbison; ‘it’s over ! it’s over !‘
He and his wise cracking side kick consoled Mark that it’s not long until the Scheldeprijs.
Viks’s take is that Cav is too heavy and that whilst he’s the Supremo in the carefully choreographed world of Grand Tour stages, in the rough and tumble of the Classics, he’s not robust enough.
The Worlds course was pan flat, so that explains the rainbow jersey.
‘But how did he win a Primavera, Vik?‘ I plead.
The answer is one word, according to Vik; ‘fluke!‘
No doubt he’ll rack up the Grand Tour stage wins as the Sky boys bury themselves for him – but maybe not, the last thing that David Brailsford could be called is ‘stupid’ and he knows full well that he can’t divide the team’s Tour resources between Brad and Cav.
Whatever happens, Cav lost a golden chance to enter the realms of the ‘Greats’ with his 2012 performances in Milan-Sanremo and Gent-Wevelgem.