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Eric Bristow
Eric Bristow 1985 01.jpg
Bristow in 1985
Personal information
Full name Eric John Bristow
Nickname "The Crafty Cockney"
Born (1957-04-25)25 April 1957
Hackney, London, England
Died 5 April 2018(2018-04-05) (aged 60)
Liverpool, England
Darts information
Playing darts since 1968
Darts 22g Harrows Eric Bristow
Laterality Right-handed
Walk-on music "Rabbit" by Chas & Dave
Organisation (see split in darts)
BDO 1976–1993
PDC 1993–2007 (Founding Member)
BDO majors – best performances
World Ch'ship Winner (5): 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986
World Masters Winner (5): 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1984
PDC premier events – best performances
World Ch'ship Semi Final: 1997
World Matchplay Last 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 Open 1980, 1984, 1989
Dry Blackthorn Cider Masters 1984, 1985, 1987
Flowers Dartsathlon 1984
French Open 1985
Golden Darts Championship 1979, 1980
Golden Gate Classic 1980
Isle Of Man Challenge 1983
Japan Open 1991
Las Vegas Open 1990
Los Angeles Open 1985
MFI World Pairs 1987
North American Open 1979, 1983, 1984, 1986
Pacific Masters 1981, 1986
PDC World Pairs 1995
Santa Monica Open 1979
Swedish Open 1979, 1981, 1982
Tokyo World Darts Grand Prix 1988
WDF World Cup Singles 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989
WDF World Cup Pairs – (Team event) 1977, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989
WDF World Cup Team – (Team event) 1979, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1991
WDF Europe Cup Pairs 1978, 1986
World Champion Super Challenge 1984
Best Old Major Results
News of the World 1983, 1984
Butlins Grand Masters 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986
MFI World Matchplay 1985, 1988
British Professional 1982, 1985
British Matchplay 1982, 1983, 1986
Other achievements
1989 Appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire MBE
Updated on 19 March 2008.

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

He was ranked World No. 1 by the World Darts Federation a record five times, in 1980, 1981 and 1983–1985. He was a five-time World Champion, a five-time World Masters Champion a four-time World Cup singles champion and 2-time champion of the News of the World Darts Championship. He won 22 WDF and BDO Major titles, he won 62 individual career titles, added to 20 titles in team events, winning 82 overall. 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 (BDO) to form their own organisation, which became the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).

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

Early career

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. Bristow left school at age 14. Bristow won his first world championship in 1980, defeating fellow Londoner Bobby George (regarded as the match that changed darts forever) so beginning almost a decade of domination, retaining his title in 1981 and winning 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 five 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 most of the time 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 only to be greeted with boos; his next dart was a treble 20, after which he turned to the crowd who met him with even more boos and jeers; lastly, his third dart was only a single 20, but the crowd applauded and Bristow merely grinned it off.

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 (becoming only the second man in 57 years to successfully defend that title) 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, similar to the yips in golf. 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 Taylor

In the 1980s, Bristow came across Phil Taylor, then a raw young darts talent in Stoke-on-Trent. He sponsored him with about £10,000 to fund his development in the game, on the understanding that the money would be repaid. Taylor 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 retirement

Bristow's form deteriorated in the early 1990s and he was dropped from the Merseyside team in 1992. Bristow had joined Merseyside, his third county, in 1988, after previously playing for London from 1976–1980 and for Staffordshire from 1980–1988. With Merseyside, Bristow played with his international teammate Kevin Kenny, and after being dropped by Merseyside, he was dropped from the England national side later the same year. The split within darts 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 a world championship. He stopped playing professionally after the event.

From late December 1993, until November 2016, when he was sacked, he worked mainly as a spotter, a pundit and an occasional commentator for Sky Sports 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.

Personal life

Bristow, Eric
Bristow in 2009

Bristow was educated at Hackney Downs Grammar School from 1968 to 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 Higginbotham (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.” 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.

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. Bristow was alleged to have punched her in the face during a drunken row in their bedroom on 29 April 2005. He was subsequently cleared of the charges.

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

Bristow's father, George, was a big Arsenal supporter, and was an Arsenal season ticket holder for most of his life. George and Eric would go together to almost every Arsenal game, home and away, in the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s. A rare exception to this was Arsenal's 1971 FA Cup Final against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium, a final in which George had a ticket, while Eric watched on television. Despite Eric going to almost every Arsenal game with his dad for around a decade, Eric became a supporter of Chelsea from the late 1960s until the end of his life, and he went to some Chelsea games on his own at Stamford Bridge in the early and mid 1970s. Eric shared his father's negative opinions of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.


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. Speaking to BBC Radio Two, Bobby George said: "In the afternoon, I was doing a show at a pub opposite the Premier League (darts) building, and he just came in, said 'hello' and had a pint, then said 'see ya', I said 'see ya' because I was working... he went across the road, and two-and-a-half hours later, he was gone.

World Championship results


  • 1978: 1st Round (lost to Conrad Daniels 3–6 legs)
  • 1979: Quarter Finals (lost to Alan Evans 1–3 sets)
  • 1980: Winner (beat Bobby George 5–3)
  • 1981: Winner (beat John Lowe 5–3)
  • 1982: 1st Round (lost to Steve Brennan 0–2)
  • 1983: Runner Up (lost to Keith Deller 5–6)
  • 1984: Winner (beat Dave Whitcombe 7–1)
  • 1985: Winner (beat John Lowe 6–2)
  • 1986: Winner (beat Dave Whitcombe 6–0)
  • 1987: Runner Up (lost to John Lowe 4–6)
  • 1988: Semi Finals (lost to John Lowe 2–5)
  • 1989: Runner Up (lost to Jocky Wilson 4–6)
  • 1990: Runner Up (lost to Phil Taylor 1–6)
  • 1991: Runner Up (lost to Dennis Priestley 0–6)
  • 1992: 2nd Round (lost to Martin Phillips 2–3)
  • 1993: 2nd Round (lost to Bob Anderson 0–3)


  • 1994: Group Stage (lost to Rod Harrington 1–3 & beat Sean Downs 3–2)
  • 1995: Group Stage (lost to Rod Harrington 0–3 & lost to Shayne Burgess 0–3)
  • 1996: Group Stage (lost to Dennis Priestley 0–3 & beat Richie Gardner 3–2)
  • 1997: Semi Finals (lost to Phil Taylor 4–5 & lost 3rd Place Match to Peter Evison 2–4)
  • 1998: Group Stage (lost to Dennis Priestley 0–3 & lost to Steve Raw 0–3)
  • 1999: 1st Round (lost to Peter Manley 0–3)
  • 2000: 1st Round (lost to Steve Brown 2–3)

Career finals

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

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
Runner-up 1. 1977 British Matchplay (1) Scotland Rab Smith Unknown
Winner 1. 1977 Winmau World Masters (1) England Paul Reynolds 3–1 (s)
Runner-up 2. 1977 Butlins Grand Masters (1) England John Lowe 4–5 (s)
Winner 2. 1979 Winmau World Masters (1) Canada Allan Hogg 2–0 (s)
Winner 3. 1980 World Darts Championship (1) England Bobby George 5–3 (s)
Winner 4. 1981 World Darts Championship (2) England John Lowe 5–3 (s)
Winner 5. 1981 Butlins Grand Masters (1) England John Lowe Unknown
Winner 6. 1981 Winmau World Masters (3) England John Lowe 2–1 (s)
Winner 7. 1982 British Matchplay (1) England Dave Whitcombe 2–0 (s)
Winner 8. 1982 Butlins Grand Masters (2) England Cliff Lazarenko Unknown
Winner 9. 1982 British Professional Championship (1) England John Lowe 7–3 (s)
Runner-up 3. 1983 World Darts Championship (1) England Keith Deller 5–6 (s)
Winner 10. 1983 British Matchplay (2) England Keith Deller 3–2 (s)
Winner 11. 1983 Butlins Grand Masters (3) Scotland Jocky Wilson 5–1 (s)
Winner 12. 1983 Winmau World Masters (4) England Mike Gregory 2–1 (s)
Winner 13. 1984 World Darts Championship (3) England Dave Whitcombe 7–1 (s)
Winner 14. 1984 Winmau World Masters (5) England Keith Deller 3–1 (s)
Winner 15. 1985 World Darts Championship (4) England John Lowe 6–2 (s)
Winner 16. 1985 Butlins Grand Masters (4) Australia Terry O'Dea 5–3 (s)
Winner 17. 1985 MFI World Matchplay (1) England Bob Anderson 5–4 (s)
Winner 18. 1985 British Professional Championship (2) England John Lowe 7–4 (s)
Winner 19. 1986 World Darts Championship (5) England Dave Whitcombe 6–0 (s)
Winner 20. 1986 British Matchplay (3) England Dave Whitcombe 3–1 (s)
Winner 21. 1986 Butlins Grand Masters (5) Canada Bob Sinnaeve Unknown
Runner-up 4. 1987 World Darts Championship (2) England John Lowe 4–6 (s)
Runner-up 5. 1987 British Matchplay (2) England Dave Whitcombe 0–3 (s)
Winner 22. 1988 MFI World Matchplay (2) Canada Bob Sinnaeve 5–1 (s)
Runner-up 6. 1989 World Darts Championship (3) Scotland Jocky Wilson 4–6 (s)
Runner-up 7. 1989 Winmau World Masters (1) England Peter Evison 2–3 (s)
Runner-up 8. 1990 World Darts Championship (4) England Phil Taylor 1–6 (s)
Runner-up 9. 1991 World Darts Championship (5) England Dennis Priestley 0–6 (s)

WDF major finals: 6 (4 titles, 2 runner-up)

World Cup (4–0)
Europe Cup (0–2)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Runner-up 1. 1980 Europe Cup Singles (1) England Tony Brown  ?–?
Runner-up 2. 1982 Europe Cup Singles (2) England Bobby George 0–4
Winner 1. 1983 World Cup Singles (1) Scotland Jocky Wilson 4–2 (l)
Winner 2. 1985 World Cup Singles (2) United States Tony Payne 4–2 (l)
Winner 3. 1987 World Cup Singles (3) Canada Bob Sinnaeve  ?–? (l)
Winner 4. 1989 World Cup Singles (4) Republic of Ireland Jack McKenna  ?–? (l)

Independent major finals: 2 (2 titles)

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


Performance timeline

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 averages

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