Swedish darts star Stefan Lord is perhaps best remembered by Darts World readers, and all darts fans of a certain age, for his two victories in the News of the World individual darts tournament, the first in 1977/78 and the second in 1979/80. But, of course there was much more to this top Swedish dartist.
Stefan was born on 4th December 1954 in Stockholm. He first became interested in darts when he was about 14 years old when he went to a café after school where the new owner had put up a dartboard. Stefan continued to hone his darts talent whilst admiring the skills of two English darts players, Barry Twomlow and Tom Barrett who he had seen playing on their tours of Sweden. However, he told me recently, “I also learned a lot from Leighton [Rees], Alan Evans and Alan Glazier.” (Image (left) of a young Stefan Lord, courtesy of the PC/DW Archive.)
Stefan first went to England to play darts in 1972. His first big win outside of his home country came in the Santa Monica Open in 1975. Stefan told me, “I went there with Olly [Croft] and the BDO tour for the Santa Monica Open, Golden Gate Classic and North America Open.”
Stefan’s first appearance in a News of the World Grand Final was at the Alexandra Palace in May 1976. At the tender age of 21 and, according to the programme ‘at present engaged on military service’, Stefan was beaten 2-1 in the first round by the North of England divisional champion, Stewart McCleary.
Two years later, in 1978, Stefan was back. By then the Grand Finals were being held at the Empire Pool, Wembley and Stefan won the title for the first time. Representing Sweden and playing out of the Stockholm Super Darts Club, he beat the North of England divisional champion John Coward (representing the White Hart British Legion, Sedburgh, Cumbria) 2-0. On his way to victory Stefan beat the London and Home Counties champion, Kent and England’s Tony Brown 2-0 in the first round, the Lancashire and Cheshire champion Jack Bentley 2-0 in the quarter-finals and Scotland’s Jocky Wilson 2-1 in his semi-final. This victory meant that Stefan was the first continental winner of the News of the World title.
At the time there was some discussion in the darts media about how the time it took Stefan to throw his darts. In 2010 Stefan told me, “I think I became ‘slow’ at the News of the World 1978 because I didn’t want to make mistakes. I took my time between throws to have a look at the score. Someone had told me, “Take your time. Don’t rush it.”
He was back the following year to defend his title but met an on-form Alan Glazier, the Yorkshire divisional champion and lost 2-0 in the first round. Undeterred he was back again in 1980 this time at the Wembley Arena and took the scalps of George Forrest (the Lancashire and Cheshire divisional champion, 2-1 in the first round, then the North of England champion Alan Turnbull in the quarter-finals 2-0, followed by John Lowe, the Midland Counties champion (evens favourite for the title that year) in the semi-finals 2-1. The final was between Stefan and Dave Whitcombe, the London & Home Counties divisional title holder. Stefan won 2-0. Derek Brown (author of The Guinness Book of Darts wrote in 1981 that Stefan was ‘quite unflappable in the face of the uproar’ at the Wembley Arena whilst Stefan himself told me, “The atmosphere was great…like a football match where I was the away team…although I was treated nice and with respect by both players and spectators.”
Stefan said, “The News of the World 1980 is the most memorable…when I beat John Lowe, who was the big favourite, in the semi-final and Dave Whitcombe in the final.” (The photo (above right) shows Stefan after being presented with the News of the World trophy by footballing legend Malcolm MacDonald. Image courtesy of the PC/DW Archive.)
Yet again the gallant Swede was back in the Grand Finals in 1981 at the Wembley Arena but his bid to win the News of the World title for a third time came to grief in the quarter-finals when Stefan was beaten 2-0 by Scotland’s Rab Smith. Surprisingly Sweden did not send a representative to the News of the World Grand Finals in 1982 or 1983, that country’s next champion being Douglas Melander who participated in the 1984 Grand Finals.
Stefan gave up playing top competitive darts in 1991/92 and then opened a restaurant ‘with darts and pool tables’ (www.jolo.se) in Stockholm. He sold that business in 2008 and moved to Thailand where, back in 2010, he told me, “I am playing golf and do nothing. I don’t play darts at all apart from a local league game sometimes when I need a drink.”
On talking with Ian Flack, Sales and Marketing Director of the WINMAU Dartboard Co. Ltd., he told me, “We produce a Stefan Lord range exclusively for our distributor in Sweden (Biljardexperten), and his name is still legendary in his home country (and further afield!).” As it is not a darts set WINMAU has photographed for its catalogue, no image was immediately available but Ian arranged for the WINMAU design team to mock up the image (left) showing the front and back of the packaging. Ian added, “We also produce a dartboard for them.”
So it is clear that, despite being away from serious tournament darts play for more than twenty years, Stefan remains popular in his home country and renowned around the world as one of the best darts players ever to emerge from Sweden.
As I had first interviewed Stefan back in 2010 I e-mailed him in 2015 to check if anything had changed in the ensuing years since I last made contact and he told me, “Nothing has changed. I am still hacking around the golf course and play darts maybe once a month for the same reason as before!” This photograph shows Stefan enjoying a meal with his lady friend of eight years, Geo, is extracted, with permission from Stefan’s blog http://mrlord501.blogspot.com.
Of his blog Stefan said, “It’s only pictures. Too lazy to write anything!”
It sounds (and looks) like Stefan is really enjoying life after darts!
(c) Patrick Chaplin 2010 and 2019
(Special thanks to Stefan and also to Ian Flack, Sales and Marketing Director of the WINMAU Dartboard Co. Ltd.)