“They called me ‘the legend.’ I don’t know why!”
When we think back to the first golden era in darts, during the 1970s and 1980s, names like Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, John Lowe, Keith Deller, Bob Anderson and Bobby George immediately come to mind.
Before all of those names lit up our television screens there was another player who blazed a trail. Alan Glazier is one of the unsung pioneers in the history of this great sport, and sadly passed away on Thursday this week at the age of 81.
During the first lockdown the Weekly Dartscast ran a Darts Legends series, and I had the pleasure of interviewing close to 20 players and officials who left their mark on the game.
Glazier was one of them and, just from listening to his voice on the other end of the phone, his enthusiasm and passion for darts shone through. From his humble beginnings when he first started playing in 1969, winning the singles title in the Twickenham League, which sparked a 35-year career and saw him travel the world.
In 1970, Glazier was invited to play in the Slough Super League, and it was there that he met Tommy Barrett, who was the first player to win the iconic News Of The World two years in a row, at Alexandra Palace in 1964 and 1965.
It was Barrett who inspired Glazier to persist further with darts, and he did so by becoming one of the first players to turn professional. “I put an advert in Darts World asking for exhibitions, to go in the pubs and play darts,” Glazier recalls. “The first one that came up was two nights in Birmingham. I got £25 quid a night and then loads of bookings came after that.
“The exhibitions went on for the rest of my career. I was doing more exhibitions than I was playing in tournaments! I was on the road six days a week. I was the first professional. I was doing exhibitions, which nobody else did. Barry Twomlow played for Unicorn and won the News Of The World (in 1969) did it, but he was just working for Unicorn.”
During the 1970s, Glazier would establish himself as one of the top players. In the summer of 1977 came arguably his finest moment, as he won a huge haul of titles in America, including the Santa Monica and North American Open singles, as well as a mixed pairs title with a partner who had never played before! “I was partnered with this girl that had never thrown a dart in her life before,” he recalls. “I started off, bang 180. Every leg I hit a 180, while she was hitting 26 and nine, and we ended up winning it. How we won that I’ll never know!”
Glazier made more history in 1978, playing in the opening day of the very first BDO World Championship. It would be the first of nine appearances in the tournament for Glazier, who would adopt the nicknames of ‘The Ton Machine’ as well as ‘The Man In Black’, a nod to his all-black attire at the oche.
After being pipped to the News Of The World title by his good friend Bobby George, 2-0 in the 1979 final, Glazier’s best run at the BDO World Championship came in 1986. Held at the famous Lakeside Country Club for the first time that year, the unseeded Glazier would knock out Bob Sinnaeve, Deller and Terry O’Dea to reach the semi-finals.
“I had three hard games to get to the semi-finals,” Glazier recalls. “I was 3-0 up on Terry and won 4-3 in the end and it finished at 1 o’clock in the morning! The next day I played Eric and my arm was killing me. It gradually wore off, but I was 3-0 down and fought back (eventually losing 5-3). I thought that was going to be my year, but never mind.”
Glazier proudly represented his country during the 1970s and 1980s, along with multiple appearances on the Bullseye TV show and, long after his final World Championship appearance in 1987, remained a popular fixture on the exhibition circuit for many more years.
“I kept going with the exhibitions,” he said. “I was doing shows up and down the country and in the end I became an entertainer, rather than a killer. I used to be a killer in darts, but it wore off. When you go to shows you’ve got to entertain.
“You get involved with so many people, it’s crazy. I thoroughly enjoyed what I did for 35 years. It’s been out of this world. Darts took over my life and I was probably the best left hander for 20 years. It’s been brilliant.”
Alan Glazier (January 21, 1939 – November 12, 2020)