Tag Archives: Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes – Tony Brown

For the revamped darts world debut edition we needed a special player, who has not had the credit they deserve, a follower suggested Tony Brown. We were then delighted when his daughter popped up in enthusiastic support.

Tony claimed the first Dart World KO Cup in Oldham during 1977 and retained it the following year. It seems fitting that Darts World acknowledged him in the first of their new editions (Issue 570)!

​MEMORIES, good days, bad days. They’ll be with me always.” The famous lyrics of ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’, the biggest No.1 hit of 1977. It was the year that Abba dominated the music charts. Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Björn were the biggest smash. But, in sporting terms, a new hero was born.

In a smoky, stuffy studio in Leeds, the now legendary Indoor League uncovered a winning star in Tony Brown. It was the stuff of arrows folklore. TV commentating gurus Dave Lanning and Sid Waddell calling the shots and producing a show fronted by Fred Trueman. This show had a notably northern, working-class focus, and featured pub games such as darts, bar billiards, shove ha’penny, skittles, and arm-wrestling. Trueman anchored the program with a pint of bitter and his pipe to hand, and signed off each week with his catchphrase, “Ah’ll sithee”. In that year of ’77, Brown saw ‘em all off as the Indoor League champion…and a fabulous career was off and running.

Born in Dover just as World War II was in its last throes of bitter battle, Brown was the original bridesmaid of the board, so close but so far to glory in a glittering period in the limelight. Not surprisingly in an era of huge characters with the likes of Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Alan Evans, Jocky Wilson, and Leighton Rees, that he didn’t manage to steal the biggest headlines. But he got very near to. Now, 75, Brown made a huge contribution in dart’s first glorious era. In the late 70s and early 80s, he competed with the greats of the time and often vested them. Tony claimed the first darts World KO Cup in Oldham during 1977, it was a tough event with county play-off s producing half the last 16 who then played off against an invited eight ‘star’ names.

As you can see from the June 1979 Darts World story Brown defeated John Lowe in that first final, remarkably retaining his title the following year. On an individual level, Brown claimed the Indoor League and British Open titles in 1977 and ’79 respectively. He was placed third in the World Championships in 1979 and 1980 as well as being World Masters Runner up in the former. Darting contemporary Linda Duffy remembers him fondly stating:

“What a great player, too often overshadowed by Eric and John.”


Unusually, it was in multiplayer or Team events where Brown really showed his real talent. Winning the World Pairs, Europe Cup, and World Cup as part of a very strong England team. But, in no way was Brown a weaker member of such an illustrious outfit. He won the Europe Cup singles event and was third in the World Cup equivalent.

Tony Brown collecting another winner’s cheque

Brown could also entertain, according to Doug McCarthy he was one of only two players who could stand at the oche with a dart in each hand, throw them simultaneously and get them both within the treble ring. A useful pub party piece not doubt! Brown was one of the founders, along with Dave Whitcombe and Lowey, of the PDPA and as such played a role in the establishment of the WDC/PDC that plays such a strong role in the modern game. After stepping back from the playing circuit in the mid80s Tony reappeared 25 years later, then aged 64, in the Dover Darts League singles. He reached the semi-finals, losing to the eventual winner.

Tony was also spotted, according to many darting archives, making a one-off appearance in the PDC in 2010 at the Australian Players Championship, however, this may be an urban myth. His daughter assures us that her father did not feature in such an event. She should know, after all, she has been with her dad in many great darting moments including the lovely one of the ‘Darts Family Brown’ featured in our 92nd Issue in July 1980.

The darts family Brown from Darts World 570



Kelly admits:
“I am still Kelly Brown, the baby in the photo (above) except I’m now 40! “My dad is now a grandad to six and a great grandad to one. He lives in Dover and has a lovely partner, Carol.

“His favourite player now is Michael Smith because his style and natural ability remind him of how he used to play. “Until recently he played in the local league but does not play any darts now.

“It’s really great to be able to read about my dad’s darts history as I was only a baby at the time so have no memories of my own. It’s good to see him recognised for his talent.”

In a sport littered by legends, Brown is right up there with the greatest, just a tad more unsung than those giants. He wasn’t quite, as Abba stated, Winner, Takes It All.

But he won our hearts and respect.

——ENDS——
Featured images: Darts World 570
Body text image: Darts World archive​

Unsung heroes – Alan Evans

Unsung Heroes – ‘Evans the Arrow’. 

In the modern era of ‘Professional’ darts, we take it for granted that the players at the very top of the game enjoy at least ‘a good living’ from the game. Alan Evans, ‘Evans the Arrow’ has a claim to have been the first Professional dart player. During the mid-seventies, he was driven from venue to venue taking on all comers sometimes for £1000’s. 

Those of you will longer memories, or YouTube addictions, may recall seeing the diminutive Welshman in gripping, not exactly friendly, struggles with some of the legendary figures in darts.  But most will not be aware of the efforts and contribution made by the fiercely competitive and highly talented player. 

Amongst his playing achievements were finals of The News of the World & The Indoor League events.  These were amongst the first televised events, Evans also made the final of the first event to be screened on the BBC, The 1975 British Open. During that same year, he claimed the World Masters title. The Welsh Team, of which Evans was a member, cleaned up the titles at the initial World Cup in 1977. 

These tremendous results happened in the few years prior to the beginning of darts first golden era. Evans may well have peaked a little too soon. He was twice defeated at the semi-final stage of the World Championships by Leighton Rees and even banned for a year by the BDO. Sadly, Evans seemed to play a secondary role on the biggest stages and never quite hit the very highest level again. Although a superb 1987 run to the World Championship Semi almost provided a fairytale for the Rhonnda Legend’. 

Evans has a few other claims to fame, he scored once 401 in 9 darts (doubled to £802 for charity) in TV’s Bullseye’s guest professional round. No one ever scored higher. It was reported and witnessed that, during a Scottish exhibition night, Evans hit the 8 separate 150 checkouts going the 3 x Bullseye route. Alan even played Muhammed Ali in a special “World Championship” match. 

Evans was a serious competitor and, at his best, a sensational player. It is a shame that TV did not witness him at his sustained best. His contribution to our game should not be underestimated. Perhaps the best indication of his impact on audiences was the tributes paid by Sid Waddell. Sid would refer to the “Alan Evans Shot” if a player needed 150 to finish a leg and would often use him to illustrate fighting qualities or sudden spells of blistering form. Waddell had seen players come and go for decades with very few being awarded this type of accolade. When Evans passed away in 1999 at the age of 49, it was Sid wrote the tribute.  

Phrases including “the balance of Nureyev” are not often equated with darters but perhaps only the combination of Sid & ‘Evans the Arrow’ could produce them with sincerity. 

Like many unsung heroes, Alan Evans didn’t enjoy the full rewards of what he helped to create but his role was in creating them should be remembered. 


A version of this article appeared in Darts World magazine 2020.

Words: JR Lott

Unsung Heroes – Paul Cook

To those supposedly ‘in the know’ Bobby George is the only person to win The News of the World event without dropping a leg. Swindon locals, quite a few darters from around the country, and the friends of Paul Cook will tell you differently.

My Darts Journey - Trying to make it in the World of Darts!: Interview with  the Last News Of The World Darts Championship Winner: Paul Cook

Cookie, as he is known, won the News of the World title in 1990, defeating Steve Hudson 2-0 in the final. For many years it was assumed that Paul would be remembered as the last ever winner. Indeed many consider him to be just that. The 1997 reboot lasted one year and was certainly not a continuation of great run  1948 – 1990.

Friends testify that he often puts down his darts after a game or event and does not pick them up again until the next event. Sometimes this appears to be a ten-year wait! Not many would be able to contemplate this, let alone have the confidence to carry it out.

It is quite shocking, but typical of Cookie, that his record (on dartsdatabase.com) begins with that major triumph. He seems to appear from thin air and disappear just as quickly! So far his career is 27 years long and runs to just one page of event results. Following his sensational 1990 win, there is a six-year gap where he appears not to have thrown a competitive dart!

Cookie resurfaces at the 1996 Antwerp Open and reaches the last 16. The 8 players who reached the qtr finals were basically the best in the world including the winner Bob Anderson, and others including Dennis Priestley, so it seems safe to assume Cookie was again in superb nick. In the next fifteen months Cookie reached the last 40 of the World Matchplay twice and the last eight of the world pairs with longtime friend Dennis Smith. Late in 1997 Cook disappeared again.

A decade later in 2007 Paul reappeared in the qualifying stages of the Las Vegas Classic and a handful of other events. He managed to qualify for the UK Open in 2009, Cookie was defeated by Mark Lawrence who reached the Qtr finals. For the next few years, only a few Open events are recorded with mixed results.

Paul Cook (Right)

Randomly again in 2015 up pops Paul again with a win in the Plymouth Open.  Attempts at a higher level appear to fail after a few attempts at BDO qualifications. Not to be written off Paul entered Q School in 2017. After taking a while to settle he embarked on a thrilling run on the final day. He finally bowed out in the last 16 after being defeated by Paul Nicholson who gained his tour card by winning his next game.

I certainly hope we have not seen or heard the last of Cookie, perhaps the most unsung major champion of them all. He is a truly lovely man and an incredibly talented player.  If you’re lucky enough to bump into him ask him to tell you the tale of what happened when they came looking to reclaim his News of the World Trophy.

Look out for sightings at Opens in the South West or just about any other event, you never know where he will pop up next!


Unsung Heroes Appeared in Darts World Magazine from 2019

Words: JR Lott