HOT ON the heels of the death of footballer Ray Wilkins, the sporting world was mourning the loss of another of its 1980s icons with the news that darts legend Eric Bristow had suffered a fatal heart attack at the aged of 60.
Fittingly, Bristow was amongst the crowd at the Echo Arena, Liverpool for the latest round of the Premier League Darts when he died, in and around the arrows fans who so admired him during his pomp when he reeled in five British Darts Organisation world titles in a golden spell between 1980 and 1986.
His flair, arrogance and outgoing personality divided opinion in later life, but back in the 80s he, in particular, and the likes of John Lowe, Bobby George, Jocky Wilson and Cliff Lazarenko helped give turn darts into the worldwide spectator sport that it has evolved into akin to to effect that Alex Higgins had on the world of snooker
In 1986 Bristow, nicknamed the Crafty Cockney, suffered a bout of ‘dartitis’ a psychological condition when the player concerned is unable to release the dart correctly. He was never as good after this but did still mange to regain his world number one ranking for a stage in 1990.
Just before this Bristow, who chalked up 70 career titles in all, discovered the talented Phil Taylor whom he mentored to go on and become the greatest player the sport has seen to date winning an incredible 16 world titles.
Later work as a Sky Sports pundit followed. But in 2016 sky sacked Bristow for some ill advised tweets regarding sexual abuse victims for which he apologised for the following day.
But the abiding memory of Bristow was his distinctive throwing action on the Oche and of a maverick personality who, in the words of current star Raymond van Barneveld ‘was darts’.