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Eric Bristow MBE ("The Crafty Cockney") (born 25 April 1957) is a former professional English darts player.

He was ranked World No. 1 by the World Darts Federation a record six times from (1980–81,83–85, 90). He is a five time World Champion [1] a five time World Masters Champion and a four time World Cup singles champion. He won twenty two WDF and BDO Major titles and seventy career titles overall.[2] 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 worked as a commentator and pundit on Sky Sports' darts coverage. He was removed from this role after a series of offensive tweets on the English football sexual abuse scandal.[3]

Early career[]

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 had to cope also with a shock defeat during this period, when young unknown Keith Deller beat him in the 1983 final, not to mention Steve Brennan in the previous year's 1st Round. He finished as runner-up on four other occasions up to 1991.

The nickname of the 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. Eric was also educated in the grammar school tradition having passed his eleven plus exam during the late 1960s.


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, he found himself unable to let go of his darts properly - a psychological condition known as dartitis,[4] a bit like the yips in golf. It seems, looking back at footage of his career, that it was gradually building up - the fluent throwing action had slowed in the previous year and he certainly struggled in April 1987 in the Nations Cup where he was particularly ragged for England. He was never the same player again but did regain the number one ranking briefly in 1990.

Mentoring Phil Taylor[]

Bristow had come across a raw darts talent in Stoke-on-Trent in the late 1980s and sponsored him with about £10,000 to fund his development in the game,[4] on the understanding that the cash would be repaid. The player was Phil Taylor who would go 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 alarmingly in the early 1990s and he was dropped from the Merseyside team (his third county) where he played with his international team mate 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 and never managed to win a single match. His swansong came in a classic semi-final at the 1997 PDC World Championship which he lost, ironically, to his protégé Taylor. Bristow's last appearance came at the World Championships in 2000 - ending his 23 years run of playing in the event and he ceased playing the sport professionally.

Until November 2016, when he was sacked,[3] he worked mainly as a pundit and occasional commentator for Sky Sports[4] during PDC tournaments, whilst 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 in the opening match 7-5. No longer the great player he once was, Bristow failed to maintain his form, and didn't 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, as he won that match by 6 legs to 1.

His sacking from Sky Sports in November 2016, followed a series of tweets in which Bristow responded to the English football sexual abuse scandal centred around the coach and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell, Bristow suggested the victims should have sorted out the perpetrators when they were older.[3][5][6] According to him, "Dart players tough guys footballers wimps". Bristow was condemned on social media for his comments.[7]


The way players hold a dart when playing the game has no rules nor recommended technique - players grasp a dart simply in the manner with which they feel comfortable. Bristow became known more than other players, however, for his style, which involved the extension of his little finger in a similar manner to the drinking of tea, often but falsely attributed to the English upper class - "me perked-up right pinkie" he called it.

Yet when he pulled the dart back from aiming position, he circled it with all of his fingers, therefore leading to speculation that the routine with the little finger was worthless to his throw. When asked about it by Chris Ashley live on Trent Sport radio, recorded on a short profile film called "Arrows" made by John Sampson in 1979 while following Eric Bristow touring Britain's clubs and pubs, Eric Bristow stated live on the radio interview, "that is not a gimmick, that is the way I first started playing darts and lot of people said 'is that a gimmick?', it's not."

Bristow went on to say that when he first started playing darts they said that he looked like a "right poof", that he was from a right tough area, and that a few guys had a go at him for that. He finished off that conversation in the same interview saying, "it's paid off in heaps".

Personal life[]

From 1978 to 1987, Bristow was in a relationship with former darts player Maureen Flowers. In 1989, he married Jane Bristow (born 1962). Bristow has two children from his marriage to Jane - daughter Louise (born 1991) and son James (born 1993).

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.[8] Bristow was alleged to have punched her in the face during a drunken row in their bedroom on 29 April 2005.[9] He was eventually cleared of the charges.[10] After the case was concluded Bristow said that his wife had just got a new boyfriend and wanted a divorce and he was now living with his children at his mother's house in Leek.

Bristow was also involved in a public disturbance in Hanley, which was by chance recorded by police reality show Street Crime UK, and then broadcast as part of an episode of the show.

Bristow lives now with his partner Rebecca 'Bex' Gadd (born 7 August 1978), from Addlestone,Surrey.

Bristow has son, James Bristow and a daughter, Louise Bristow plus 2 grandsons. Away from darts, he enjoys football and is a supporter of Chelsea FC.

Outside darts[]

Bristow was awarded the MBE for his services to sport in 1989. He appeared in an episode of Never The Twain 'Definitely Not Cricket' in 1986.

In 1979, Bristow was the subject of an intimate film portrait directed by Scottish filmmaker John Samson. Entitled Arrows,[11] 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.

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

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: Last 24 Group (lost to Rod Harrington 1-3 & beat Sean Downs 3-2)
  • 1995: Last 24 Group (lost to Rod Harrington 0-3 & lost to Shayne Burgess 0-3)
  • 1996: Last 24 Group (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: Last 24 Group (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)
Winmau World Masters (5–1)
British Professional Championship (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) 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 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 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)

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)


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

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 L16 QF W W L32 RU W W W RU SF RU RU RU L16 L16 No longer a BDO Member
Winmau World Masters W L16 W QF W QF W W L16 L16 SF QF RU L16 L16 L16 Did not participate
British Professional Not held L16 W SF SF W L16 L32 L32 Not held
MFI World Matchplay Not held L16 W L16 QF W Not held
PDC World Championship Not yet founded L24G L24G L24G SF L24G L32 L32
World Matchplay Not yet founded L32 L32 L32 L32 L32 L32 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 L# 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 RU lost in the final W won the tournament


  1. 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.
  2. "Eric Bristow Results". Darts Database. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 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.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Nick Harper. "Small Talk: Eric Bristow | Sport". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  5. "Eric Bristow sparks outrage for calling footballers 'wimps' in sex abuse scandal". The Daily Telegraph. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  6. "Football sex abuse: Eric Bristow suggests victims not 'proper men'". BBC News. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  7. "Bristow under fire over sex abuse tweets". The Times. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016. (subscription required)
  8. "BBC NEWS - UK - England - Staffordshire - Bristow accused of attack on wife".
  9. "BBC NEWS - UK - England - Staffordshire - Ex-darts champion 'punched wife'".
  10. "BBC NEWS - UK - England - Staffordshire - Darts champion cleared of assault".
  11. MORE QUOTED THAN SEEN at the Wayback Machine (archived 13 December 2010)
  12. "I'm a Celebrity lineup revealed". RTÉ. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012.

External links[]

Template:World Darts Championship