Comment & Analysis @RazMirza
Eric Bristow was the governor of darts back in the 1980s
Last Updated: 07/04/18 2:00pm
The legend, the icon; when Eric Bristow put the game of darts on the map in the 1980s the nation had fallen in love with the 'Crafty Cockney'.
Bristow, who died on Thursday after a heart attack, became a household name beyond the oche as the sport's television boom made sure this was just the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
He became a five-time world champion, but it all began at just 11 years of age when his father bought him a dartboard and, with it, a ticket to a life he could only have dreamed of.
Words cannot express how sad and shocked I am to hear the terrible news about Eric's passing a huge influence on my career and a larger than life character the world has lost a legend. RIP pal #16— Phil Taylor (@PhilTaylor) April 6, 2018
Born on April 25 1957 to plasterer George and telephonist Pamela, he grew up in Stoke Newington and was educated at Hackney Grammar School, where he was given the cane on his third day and admitted carrying a claw hammer in his trousers in case of trouble.
Young Eric was exposed to golf, snooker and pool before he struck gold with darts and by 14 he was an active member of a local team. A year later he was making more from tournament prize money than he was from his first paying job as a proofreader for an advertising agency.
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Bristow knew he had a special talent and decided he needed a special nickname to live up to the hype. 'The Crafty Cockney' was a sobriquet he lifted from a bar he frequented in Santa Monica and it stuck.
Having spent most of his 20s as the world's No 1 player, by 30 he had done it all: a quintet of world crowns between 1980 and 1986, countless other trophies and trinkets. He was also a five-time runner-up between 1983-1991.
His first title, a 5-3 defeat of Bobby George, marked the start of his dynasty. Bristow quickly defended his crown when he beat John Lowe in 1981.
In 1983, Bristow faced his good friend and qualifier Keith Deller in a memorable final that shocked the world of darts.
'The Milky Bar Kid' defeated Bristow in an incredible deciding-set, taking out an unforgettable 138 finish to seal victory. Commentators often refer to 138 as the 'Deller checkout'.
Defeat hurt Bristow, who returned the following year to right the wrongs as he blasted his way to a third world title thanks to a 7-1 victory over Dave Whitcombe.
In 1985 he ended his rival Lowe's hopes with a 6-2 success, before completing a hat-trick of wins 12 months later as he collected his final world title against Whitcombe, who was on the receiving end of a Bristow masterclass - a whitewash.
Lowe, Jocky Wilson, his protege Phil Taylor, and Dennis Priestley all got the better of Bristow in subsequent years. He looked a pale shadow of his dominant best after his talents waned.
His friendship with Taylor saw him mentor the 'The Power' to become the greatest player of all time, initially sponsoring him for £9,000 and showing him the ropes in his pub, 'The Crafty Cockney'.
Bristow was a founder player as a number of leading names formed the breakaway World Darts Council [now PDC] in 1993. He continued to be a key personality within the sport even though he continued to fight against his long battle with dartitis - an inability to release the arrow and a near cousin of golf's 'yips'.
He was no longer an elite performer, a semi-final run in the 1997 PDC World Championship was a stirring but isolated return to form.
When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer … Bristow's only 27.
'The voice of darts' Sid Waddell
Bristow found relief in his personal life, marrying wife Jane in 1989 and becoming father to Louise and James. His family later grew to include a half-brother, Kevin, whose existence had been a well-kept secret until he was 45.
He transitioned comfortably into life away from competitive darts, working for Sky television as both commentator and spotter, working the exhibition and autobiography circuit before being cast in ratings hit I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here.
There will only ever be one Eric Bristow!
Bristow in numbers:
5 - Bristow won five world titles, all as part of the British Darts Organisation (BDO) between 1980 and 1986. He also won five World Masters events.4 - wins in both the British Open and the North American Open.24 - major titles won during his career, a combination of the BDO WorldChampionship, World Masters, British Professional Championship, Grand Masters,World and British Matchplay and the News of the World Championship.16 - Bristow was one of 16 founder members in 1993 of the World Darts Council,which later became the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).1968 - the year Bristow turned professional.1989 - the year he was made an MBE for services to sport.60 - Bristow's age when he died on Thursday night.
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