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Eric John Bristow, MBE (25 April 1957 – 5 April 2018), nicknamed "The Crafty Cockney", was an English professional darts player.

Eric Bristow
Bristow, Eric.jpg
Bristow in 2009
Personal information
Full nameEric John Bristow
NicknameThe Crafty Cockney
Born(1957-04-25)25 April 1957
Hackney, London, England
Died5 April 2018(2018-04-05) (aged 60)
Liverpool, England
Darts information
Playing darts since1968
Darts22g Harrows Eric Bristow
Walk-on musicRabbit by Chas & Dave
Organisation (see split in darts)
PDC1993-2007 (Founding Member)
BDO majors - best performances
World Ch'shipWinner (5): 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986
World MastersWinner (5): 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1984
PDC premier events - best performances
World Ch'shipSemi Final: 1997
World MatchplayLast 32: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
Other tournament wins
Belgium Open 1978, 1980, 1981
British Gold Cup 1980
British Open 1978, 1981, 1983, 1986
British Pentathlon 1981, 1989
Denmark Open1980, 1984, 1989
Dry Blackthorn Cider Masters1984, 1985, 1987
Camerons Fiesta Open1979
Flowers Dartsathlon1984
French Open 1985
Golden Darts Championship1979, 1980
Golden Gate Classic1980
Isle Of Man Challenge1983
MFI World Pairs1987
North American Open1979, 1983, 1984, 1986
Pacific Masters1981, 1986
PDC World Pairs1995
Santa Monica Open1979, 1980
Swedish Open1979, 1981, 1982
Tokyo World Darts Grand Prix1988
Welsh Open 1981
WDF World Cup Singles1983, 1985, 1987, 1989
WDF Europe Cup Pairs1978, 1986
WDF World Cup Pairs1977, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989
World Champion Super Challenge1984
Best Old Major Results
News of the World1983, 1984
Butlins Grand Masters1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986
MFI World Matchplay1985, 1988
British Professional1982, 1985
British Matchplay1982, 1983, 1986
Other achievements
1989 Appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire MBE[1]
Updated on 19 November 2006.

He was ranked World No. 1 by the World Darts Federation a record six times, in 1980 and 81, 1983 to 1985, and in 1990. He was a five-time World Champion,[2] a five-time World Masters Champion and a four-time World Cup singles champion. He won 22 WDF and BDO Major titles and 70 career titles overall.[3] In the 1980s, Bristow's skill and personality helped turn darts into a worldwide spectator sport.

In 1993, Bristow was one of sixteen top players who broke away from the British Darts Organisation to form their own organisation, which became the Professional Darts Corporation.

He retired from competitive darts in 2007 and subsequently worked as a commentator and pundit on Sky Sports darts coverage.

Early careerEdit

In 1957, Bristow was born in the London Borough of Hackney, where his father was a plasterer and his mother worked as a telephone operator.[4] Bristow left school at age 14.[4] Bristow won his first world championship in 1980, defeating fellow Londoner Bobby George, and so began a decade's worth of domination, in which he would retain his title in 1981 and win it again in 1984, 1985 and 1986. Like his snooker contemporary Steve Davis, however, he also had to cope with a shock defeat in a final during this period, when young unknown Keith Deller beat him in the 1983 final; he had also lost to Steve Brennan in the previous year's first round. As well as his five world titles, Bristow also finished as runner-up on four occasions, the last in 1991.

The nickname Crafty Cockney was given to Bristow when he visited an English pub of that name in 1976 during a visit to Santa Monica, California. Bristow wore a shirt (which he received from the same pub) depicting a uniformed British policeman, a Union Flag and the title Crafty Cockney whenever he took part in a tournament.


Bristow emerged as the most successful and consistent darts player of the 1980s, reigning as number one in the world rankings from 1980 until 1987. He was fortunate to have been around at the right time as television began showing increased interest in the sport in the late 1970s, with the first world championship occurring in 1978. This, allied to the fact that a governing body had been formed in January 1973 and that Bristow had not only supreme talent for one so young but an imposing personality and uncontained self belief, enabled him to make a very successful living. Cocky and arrogant, he invariably wound opponents up before and during matches with his gamesmanship. Crowds would boo Bristow when he was on stage, no less so than in Scotland, an atmosphere in which he revelled.

During the 1982 Arrows Chemicals British International Championship match in Scotland, Bristow was subject to what Darts World Magazine called "the most sustained barrage of jeering witnessed at a Darts match". He played to the crowd during his game with Harry Patterson; following a Treble 20, he turned to the crowd (more booing..) next dart, Treble 20, he turned to the crowd (even more booing, shouting..) third dart was single 20 but he smiled and the crowd applauded.

As well as his world championship exploits, Bristow also lifted the prestigious Winmau World Masters crown no fewer than five times (1977 beating Paul Reynolds, 1979 beating Canadian Allan Hogg, 1981 beating defending champion John Lowe, 1983 beating Mike Gregory and 1984 beating Keith Deller). He also reached the final in 1989, losing to Peter Evison. He was a winner of the World Cup Singles on four occasions (1983 beating Jocky Wilson, 1985 beating Tony Payne, 1987 beating Bob Sinnaeve and 1989 beating Jack McKenna) and won the News of the World Darts Championship in 1983 beating Ralph Flatt and 1984 beating Ian Robertson together with countless other major tournaments including the British Open and Swedish Open three times each and the North American Open on four occasions.


During the Swedish Open in November 1986, Bristow found himself unable to let go of his darts properly – a psychological condition known as dartitis,[5] similar to the yips in golf. Footage of his career suggests the condition may have been building up gradually; his hitherto fluent throwing action had slowed in the previous year, and he struggled in April 1987 in the Nations Cup, where he was particularly ragged for England, with the dartitis worsening considerably in the second half of 1987 to the point where he was really struggling to release the first dart.[original research?] He was never the same player again, but did regain the number-one ranking briefly in late 1989 and early 1990 before losing his form again. He had a last hurrah at the highest level of professional darts when reaching the semi finals of the 1997 WDC World Darts Championship at the Circus Tavern, where he narrowly lost to Phil Taylor 4–5 in sets.

Mentoring Phil TaylorEdit

In the 1980s, Bristow came across a raw darts talent in Stoke-on-Trent. He sponsored him with about £10,000 to fund his development in the game,[5] on the understanding that the cash would be repaid. The player was Phil Taylor who went on to usurp his mentor as the greatest darts player ever, with Bristow often on the receiving end of his brilliance.

Later career and retirementEdit

Bristow's form deteriorated in the early 1990s and he was dropped from the Merseyside team (his third county) where he played with his international teammate Kevin Kenny, and then the national side. The split within darts – another governing body was formed - saw Bristow become a founding member of the Professional Darts Corporation. At the World Matchplay event in Blackpool, Bristow made six appearances without winning a match. His swansong came in a classic semi-final at the 1997 PDC World Championship, which he lost to his protégé, Phil Taylor. Bristow's last appearance came at the World Championships in 2000, ending his 23-year run of playing in the event. He ceased playing the sport professionally after the event.

From late December 1993,[6] until November 2016, when he was sacked,[7] he worked mainly as a spotter, a pundit and an occasional commentator for Sky Sports[5] during televised PDC tournaments, while continuing to travel and play on the exhibition circuit. Bristow returned to TV screens as a player in 2008 on Setanta Sports to compete in the BetFred League of Legends tournament, beating Bobby George 7–5 in the opening match. Bristow failed to maintain his form, however, and did not win another match in the tournament, failing to qualify for the semi-finals and finishing bottom of the League of Legends table. In 2004, Bristow played John Lowe, with Bristow showing glimpses of his old form in winning the match 6 legs to 1.

On 29 November 2016, Bristow was sacked by Sky Sports following a series of tweets in which he responded to the United Kingdom football sexual abuse scandal centred around the football coach and convicted paedophile, Barry Bennell. Bristow suggested the victims should have "sorted out" the perpetrators when they were older.[7][8][9] According to him, "Dart players tough guys footballers wimps". Bristow was condemned by social media users, including alleged victims of Bennell, for his comments.[10] Bristow apologised for his comments the following day. In a statement, he compared himself to a "bull in a China shop" and "appreciated my wording was wrong and offended many people".[11][6]

Personal lifeEdit

Eric was educated at Hackney Down grammar school from 1968 - 1971, having passed his eleven-plus exam. He left grammar school at the age of 14.

From 1978 to 1987, Bristow was in a relationship with former darts player Maureen Flowers. In 1989, he married Jane Bristow (born 1962) they had two children, a daughter and a son. They divorced in 2005 after 16 years of marriage, and he was later in a relationship with Rebecca Gadd until his death.

In 1979, Bristow was the subject of a film directed by Scottish filmmaker John Samson. Entitled Arrows,[12] the 30-minute short got its cinema release as the supporting feature for the 1980 British gangster film The Long Good Friday. He also played himself in 2002 film Heartlands.

Bristow was awarded the MBE in 1989 for his services to sport.[13]

In 2005, Bristow was accused of assaulting his wife. North Staffordshire magistrates ordered him to stay away from the family home in Milltown Way, Leek, Staffordshire and he was remanded on conditional bail.[14] Bristow was alleged to have punched her in the face during a drunken row in their bedroom on 29 April 2005.[15] He was subsequently cleared of the charges.[16]

In 2012, Bristow participated in the reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here![17] He was voted out on 29 November 2012, finishing fourth out of 12 celebrities.[18]


Bristow died on 5 April 2018, after a heart attack while attending a Premier League Darts event at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. Bristow had finished playing some VIPs at a promotional event and was walking back to his car, when he collapsed and was rushed to hospital. Bristow's death was announced during the match between Peter Wright and Daryl Gurney. The crowd paid tribute to Bristow.[19][20]

World Championship resultsEdit



Career finalsEdit

BDO and WDF major finals: 31 (22 wins, 9 runners-up)Edit

World Championship (5–5)
World Masters (5–1)
British Professional (2–0)
World Matchplay (2–0)
Grand Masters (5–1)
British Matchplay (3–2)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score[Note 1]
Runner-up 1. 1977 British Matchplay (1)   Rab Smith Unknown
Winner 1. 1977 Winmau World Masters (1)   Paul Reynolds 3–1 (s)
Runner-up 2. 1977 Butlins Grand Masters (1)   John Lowe 4–5 (s)
Winner 2. 1979 Winmau World Masters (1)   Allan Hogg 2–0 (s)
Winner 3. 1980 World Darts Championship (1)   Bobby George 5–3 (s)
Winner 4. 1981 World Darts Championship (2)   John Lowe 5–3 (s)
Winner 5. 1981 Butlins Grand Masters (1)   John Lowe Unknown
Winner 6. 1981 Winmau World Masters (3)   John Lowe 2–1 (s)
Winner 7. 1982 British Matchplay (1)   Dave Whitcombe 2–0 (s)
Winner 8. 1982 Butlins Grand Masters (2)   Cliff Lazarenko Unknown
Winner 9. 1982 British Professional Championship (1)   John Lowe 7–3 (s)
Runner-up 3. 1983 World Darts Championship (1)   Keith Deller 5–6 (s)
Winner 10. 1983 British Matchplay (2)   Keith Deller 3–2 (s)
Winner 11. 1983 Butlins Grand Masters (3)   Jocky Wilson 5–1 (s)
Winner 12. 1983 Winmau World Masters (4)   Mike Gregory 2–1 (s)
Winner 13. 1984 World Darts Championship (3)   Dave Whitcombe 7–1 (s)
Winner 14. 1984 Winmau World Masters (5)   Keith Deller 3–1 (s)
Winner 15. 1985 World Darts Championship (4)   John Lowe 6–2 (s)
Winner 16. 1985 Butlins Grand Masters (4)   Terry O'Dea 5–3 (s)
Winner 17. 1985 MFI World Matchplay (1)   Bob Anderson 5–4 (s)
Winner 18. 1985 British Professional Championship (2)   John Lowe 7–4 (s)
Winner 19. 1986 World Darts Championship (5)   Dave Whitcombe 6–0 (s)
Winner 20. 1986 British Matchplay (3)   Dave Whitcombe 3–1 (s)
Winner 21. 1986 Butlins Grand Masters (5)   Bob Sinnaeve Unknown
Runner-up 4. 1987 World Darts Championship (2)   John Lowe 4–6 (s)
Runner-up 5. 1987 British Matchplay (2)   Dave Whitcombe 0–3 (s)
Winner 22. 1988 MFI World Matchplay (2)   Bob Sinnaeve 5–1 (s)
Runner-up 6. 1989 World Darts Championship (3)   Jocky Wilson 4–6 (s)
Runner-up 7. 1989 Winmau World Masters (1)   Peter Evison 2–3 (s)
Runner-up 8. 1990 World Darts Championship (4)   Phil Taylor 1–6 (s)
Runner-up 9. 1991 World Darts Championship (5)   Dennis Priestley 0–6 (s)

Independent major finals: 2 (2 titles)Edit

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Winner 1. 1983 News of the World Championship (1)   Ralph Flatt 2–0 (l)
Winner 2. 1984 News of the World Championship (2)   Ian Robertson 2–0 (l)


  1. ^ (l) = score in legs, (s) = score in sets.

Performance timelineEdit

Tournament 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
BDO World Championship NYF 1R QF W W 1R F W W W F SF F F F 2R 2R No longer a BDO Member
Winmau World Masters W 3R W QF W QF W W 4R 4R SF QF F 4R 4R 4R Did not participate
British Professional Not held 2R W SF SF W 2R 1R 1R Not held
MFI World Matchplay Not held 1R W 1R QF W Not held
PDC World Championship Not yet founded RR RR RR SF RR 1R 1R
World Matchplay Not yet founded 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R DNP
News of the World ??? W W ??? Not held DNP Not held
Performance Table Legend
DNP Did not play at the event DNQ Did not qualify for the event NYF Not yet founded #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QF lost in the quarter-finals SF lost in the semi-finals F lost in the final W won the tournament

High averagesEdit

Eric Bristow televised high averages
Average Date Opponent Tournament Stage Score Ref.
105.30 17 September 1983   Alan Glazier British Professional Championship Last 32 3-0 (S)
103.24 22 October 1983   Jocky Wilson World Cup Final 4-2 (L)
101.16 8 December 1984   Keith Deller Winmau World Masters Final 3-1 (S)
99.66 11 January 1985   Dave Whitcombe World Darts Championship Semi Finals 5-2 (S)


  1. ^ "Do you remember when...Eric Bristow ruled darts? - Sport - The Observer".
  2. ^ Prenderville, Paul. "Phil Taylor needs to accept his status and start enjoying his darts says Eric Bristow". Sky Sports News, 20 December 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Eric Bristow Results". Darts Database. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b Sandomir, Richard (10 April 2018). "Eric Bristow, the First Superstar of Darts, Is Dead at 60". The New York Times. p. A25. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Nick Harper. "Small Talk: Eric Bristow | Sport". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b Khomami, Nadia (30 November 2016). "Eric Bristow apologises for Twitter football sex abuse comments". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b Menezes, Jack de (29 November 2016). "Eric Bristow axed by Sky Sports after calling football abuse victims 'wimps' and 'not proper men'". The Independent. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Eric Bristow sparks outrage for calling footballers 'wimps' in sex abuse scandal". The Daily Telegraph. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Football sex abuse: Eric Bristow suggests victims not 'proper men'". BBC News. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Bristow under fire over sex abuse tweets". The Times. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016. (subscription required)
  11. ^ "Eric Bristow: Former darts champion apologises for football sex abuse comments". BBC Sport. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  12. ^ "MORE QUOTED THAN SEEN". Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. ^ The Gazzette, retrieved 10 April 2018
  14. ^ "Bristow accused of attack on wife". BBC News.
  15. ^ "Ex-darts champion 'punched wife'". BBC News.
  16. ^ "Darts champion cleared of assault". BBC News.
  17. ^ "I'm a Celebrity lineup revealed". RTÉ. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  18. ^ Sanghani, Radhika (30 November 2012). "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Eric Bristow misses out on the final three". The Independent. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  19. ^ Allen, Dave. "Eric Bristow Passes Away". PDC. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Eric Bristow, five-times darts world champion, dies aged 60". Guardian. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.

External linksEdit