The Towering Inferno passes at 76

By Editorial Staff 18/05/2021

DARTS World was saddened to learn that Terry O Dea has passed away aged 76. The popular Australian was a stalwart of the game in the 1980s and reached the later stages of many televised events. 

Terry first came to the notice of a wider audience in 1979 when he made his World Championship debut. Although he lost out to Eric Bristow, in the last 16, his 1st round defeat of 'Big' Cliff Lazarenko had signalled that he was a coming talent in the first golden era of darts.

The next few years saw Terry qualify for the event every year (he played ten consecutively) and his performances generally improved on each visit. In 1982 he reached the Qtr finals for the first time and from then on he began to register in the other major events as well.

1982 also saw Terry shine in representative events, winning the WDF Pacific Cup Singles and Pairs while in Australian 'colours'.

During the next half-decade, Terry consistently reached the Qtrs or semis of major events such as the World Masters and the MFI World Matchplay. It often took the greats of the era, at their best, to remove him. 

Perhaps the highlight of his playing career came during this period. In 1985 Terry embarked on a superb run to the final of the Butlins Grand Masters. During the 80s this was an elite event that was never won by anyone other than a household name. Speaking of household names, O Dea removed both John Lowe and Dave Whitcombe en route and gave Eric Bristow a tough time in the final, before going down 3-5.

The start of the following year, 1986, witnessed O Dea in a crunching battle with Alan Glazier at the qtr-final stage of the World Championship. The game went all the way to a deciding set which the English left-hander edged. Perhaps the best compliment to Terry was that Glazier always claimed that the game against O Dea was so tough that it took him until halfway through his semi-final against Bristow to loosen back up again. 

Terry went on to reach the semifinals of both the World Matchplay, where it took a rejuvenated Jocky Wilson to prevent him from reaching the final, and the World Pairs, with Big Cliff Lazarenko, later that same year. 1987 saw another semi-final in the World pairs, this time partnering Singapore legend Paul Lim.

On home turf, Terry reached the final of the Australian Masters in 1988

It was never easy in this period for an International player to fully justify their talent while being based outside the UK and Australia was especially difficult. As the game hit tougher times toward the end of the decade Terry slipped from view after the 1988 World Championship. 

Paul Nicholson, who represented Austalia in multiple World Cups said:

This is awful news. A giant of the Aussie game and a real trailblazer for world darts in the 1980’s. His legacy is still being felt to this day. Rest easy Terry

Darts World produced a Player Profile of Terry in issue 132 (1983) and we shall endeavor to reproduce this in the coming days. We are sure the sympathy and condolences of the darting community are with the friends and family of The Towering Inferno, Terry O Dea.

Image: Darts World Magazine 1983


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