Eric Bristow MBE - Tribute
Image: Dave Clark via Twitter
The world of darts has been in mourning since the devasting news of the passing of five-time world champion, Eric Bristow, aged 60. Nicknamed the ‘Crafty Cockney’, Bristow dominated the sport between 1980 and 1986 and picked up another five World Masters titles along the way. Bristow was one of the founding members of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and had been awarded an MBE for his services to the game back in 1989.
Bristow last competed on the world darts stage during the turn of the millennium at the PDC World Championship, his 23rd appearance in a world championship in a career spanning 70 professional titles on the circuit. To celebrate the 40th year of the British Monarchy, four sporting world champions were invited to a personal meeting with Queen Elizabeth II. The fact that Bristow was part of that quartet, along with Nick Faldo, Nigel Mansell and Frank Bruno, says it all about how much Bristow had done for the game of darts and British sport as a whole.
It was Bristow’s skill and charisma on the oche that helped to transform darts into a fully-fledged spectator sport. He was no stranger to controversy throughout the years but was respected for speaking his mind. It was Bristow who played an integral part in the development of arguably the game’s greatest ever darts player, Phil Taylor. Bristow stumped up £9,000 to fund Taylor’s development and little did he know that Taylor would go on to usurp his world title successes in such a big way.
Image: Phil Taylor via Twitter
Suffolk’s former world darts champion, Keith Deller, was one of the first to pay tribute to Bristow’s life and career. It was Deller who would end Bristow’s dominance at the World Championship in 1983 and the pair have been close friends ever since. Deller insisted: “What he’s done for our game, tonight, if it wasn’t for Eric, no-one would be here [at the Premier League event] tonight.”
Bristow’s passing was all the more tragic given that he was at the Liverpool Arena on the evening of his death for a Premier League event. Bristow had even taken to his Twitter account on Thursday evening to list his predictions for the ‘Judgement Night’ fixtures. Bristow had predicted a 7-4 win for Raymond van Barneveld against in-form Michael Smith, but the latter maintained his outstanding form to whitewash the Dutchman 7-0 and justify the dramatic cut of his odds in the Premier League darts betting from 66/1 before the opening fixture.
The fact that Premier League players had tears in their eyes mid-game underlined the respect darts professionals have for Bristow. A legend is often an overused adjective, but it is certainly fitting for a man who understood the meaning of entertainment. Darts has long been a working man’s game but Bristow, along with the likes of Phil Taylor, helped take darts out of backstreet pubs and onto the global stage.