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June 2018 (548) was, perhaps, the last to feature ‘The Crafty Cockney’. Read JR Lott’s tribute to Eric’s legacy here. Scroll down to find out how you can read this issue, and over 50 more, totally free, during this Lock-Down period.

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The Crafty Cockney – The Ultimate Legacy

Eric Bristow would have been 63 this year. One of the modern darts’ founding fathers, and easily the game’s most intriguing character, Eric is remembered for many different things, by differing generations. But it should never be forgotten that he was truly exceptional and created the package by which we measure those who follow. 

The Crafty Cockney graced multiple magazine covers, including our own, for almost fifty years.

Along the wall in my ‘darts space’ are a few framed photos on prominent display. Each features a player who has made a contribution to the game or offers an interesting subject for the those who visit. 

We were recently visited by a very senior figure in the darts business. As the conversation flowed our guest, glancing at the ‘Hall of Fame’, asked why each player was there. We soon arrived at the largest photo; a signed early 1980’s shot, of The Crafty Cockney. The picture signifies the invention, and perfection, of modern darts. 

To my great surprise, the reply came “Yes, but was he really that good?  I gave the short version of Eric’s ability but was absolutely amazed that the question was asked. Obviously, as time passes, new generations have come to the game in the era of The Power, Fordham, Hankey and MVG. Their view of those who built the platform, for today’s icons, is similar to how we might look back at black and white footage of golfers, tennis stars or footballers. 

But it will not stand that such titans, and Eric especially, should simply merge in with a group of dimly remembered figures. By almost every measure Eric ranks as one of the top three players to have played the professional game, and there is a very strong case for him to be the most important: 

No More Worlds Left to Conquer 

The Crafty Cockney, starting when only 23 years old, won five world championships, in seven years, including two back-to-backs and a hattrick. It is often forgotten that he also reached another five finals. Every win was over a top-five player and every loss was to a darting titan. During this entire period there was only one World Championship, and it featured every top professional of the time. The format was also very short in the early rounds.  

Two young mavericks who transformed their sports and lived life on their own terms.

There is no one, other than Phil Taylor, who gets close to Eric’s effort. After Barney joined the PDC in 2007 you could make a case for the field being similarly strong to those from pre-1994. ‘The Power’ claimed only three World titles over the next decade. 

Filling the Cabinet 

The second greatest event during this era was the World Masters. It was incredibly difficult to win, being unseeded and played from floor to stage. Eric won his first Masters at the age of 20 and claimed a total of five between 1977 and 1984. No player, from any era, has gotten close to this. Bob Anderson’s three in a row was outstanding and, perhaps, the closest there will ever be. Eric also claimed back-to-back News of the World events, one of only three to do so, and the World Cup singles crown four times on the bounce. Neither Phil nor MVG managed to add the World Cup Singles to their lists.  

In addition, Eric won multiple versions of the Matchplay (British and World), The Grand Masters, Golden Arrows, and every other major/TV event available to him. Even after his glory years, he picked up a World Pairs title (PDC) to go with his earlier WDF version. All-in-all Eric collected a total of over thirty ‘major’ events, in a day when there were far fewer, and with a united field of the highest quality. 

Peak Performance: 

With the modern obsession with averages the fact that current players hit 100+ averages at a stroll is often used to belittle those who have gone before. This, however, is both false and unfair. Eric hit what he needed to hit to subdue his opponent and win the match. His 103+ to defeat Jocky Wilson in the 1983 World Cup final and his 101 to defeat Kieth Deller in the 1983 Masters (final again!) were remarkable at the time and would stand up in many finals today. The Crafty Cockney recorded a 105+ vs Alan Glazier earlier in 1983; this remained unbeaten until Phil Taylor claimed a 107+ eight year later.

In the days of this image Eric was known as ‘ The Boy Wonder’.

Two matches that demonstrate Eric’s ability are the final of the World Masters in 1984 and the World Championship Final of 1985. They display his sheer talent and his matchplay and psychology skills in perfect harmony. Deller was defeated as much by psychology as by scoring, whereas Lowe was battered into submission with a blizzard of 180’s in the early stages. (Check them out on You Tube!) 

As a final point it should be remembered that as well as the natural advance of any skill over time, the equipment and technology improvements that have been made since 1983 have been dramatic. Darts, stems and flights but especially boards and professionalism, have developed massively. The scoring areas of modern boards (especially in the PDC) are considerably larger and no longer surrounded by rounded wires, staples and other such obstacles. Combined with the conditions, security of income and volume of opportunities to play top-level darts, the modern player has a big advantage. 

If we grant Eric even 10 percent, for these handicaps, his performance level would move up to around 115+. This would put him straight into the top three of all time! (Add in his usual determination to be the best and who knows?) 

Creating the Template: 

In addition to Eric’s remarkable ability, and phenomenal winning record, it should not be forgotten that true ‘oche legends’ are not only remembered for their scoring, or finishing, alone. They are remembered for a mix of their sporting prowess, on-stage image, off-stage personality and what they bring to, and leave for, their sport. Bristow brought us an unmatched package of skill, unrivalled competitiveness, pomp, aggression, flair and humour.  

Eric Bristow created the template for the professional dart player.  He also went out and sold it to the world. It is very hard to think of any other player, past or present, who can compete on those terms. 

An iconic image for a ‘Legendary Legacy’. (Pic:L Lustig)

 From originally being the ‘Boy Wonder’ to bestriding the darts world, as The Crafty Cockney, Eric Bristow left a legendary legacy that deserves to be preserved, protected, and promoted in equal measure. 

Originally published in Darts World magazine (Issue 569) during the Covid-19 Lockdown of 2020.

(JR adapted an article he had recently published at in order to remind fans of our sports happiest times, many of which Eric had played a major role in.)

DartsWorld Magazine May 2020 Cover

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DartsWorld Magazine May 2020 Cover
DartsWorld Magazine May 2020 Cover

You can also catch our ‘skinny’ May issue which includes features on Eric Bristow, dart players mental health while coping with the lockdown, the online darts tours and much, much more!

We must give a huge thank you to all of the Darts World team who have produced this issue during the worst of the lockdown. Later this summer we will be launching our exciting new-look magazine, so be sure to register!

With a recent change in ownership, Darts World is embarking on a new era in its history and exciting times lie ahead, including some innovative developments that are coming this summer. Make sure you keep up to date at

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DartsWorld Magazine May 2020 Cover

Between The Covers: Darts World Issue 569 Highlights

The latest edition of Darts World magazine has been made available free of charge during the COVID-19 pandemic period, via our digital platform. Our editorial team has done a superb job in ensuring that our readers, sponsors, advertisers and contributors continue to enjoy Darts World Magazine during these difficult times. We look forward to launching our all-new magazine later this summer!

DartsWorld Magazine May 2020 Cover
DartsWorld Magazine May 2020 Cover

Highlights (Issue 569) include:

The Crafty Cockney – A Legendary Legacy – JR Lott paints an affectionate picture of Eric Bristow.

Switchblade – A superb new practice routine and how Darts World has boosted its success.

Wizard’s Wizdom – Colin Osborne shares his experiences of virtual darts and introduces The Wizard’s apprentice.

Mic Drop – World Championship official John Fowler illustrates the effects of lockdown on the wider darts family.

Guess Who – Win a signed set of Red Dragon darts if you can name the players in the identikit photo.

Six of the Best – Tartan tungsten titans. James Lincoln and JR Lott look at the oche legends from Scotland and offer their top six.

Mental Health Bullseyes – Darts World sought expert advice to enable us to offer readers some top tips on coping mentally during these tricky times.

The 9 Dart Questions – ‘Hendo’ is the first player to star in our latest feature. His answers will both please and intrigue.

The Devonshire Discussion – Is there a greatest game? Andrew looks at how we all have biases and, perhaps, there is only our favourite game?

Ones to Watch – Darts World reader James Smith offers his choice of six great games from 2020 that you can watch at your leisure.

Unsung Heroes – Lionel Smith. JR Lott looks back at the influence of the Staffordshire legend.

Game On – The Birth of the BDO. Alan Towe looks back to the dawn of the county scene and the beginnings of the BDO.

Player of The Month – Your chance to win a set of Winmau Pro-Line darts. Simply nominate the player you feel is most deserving and tell us why!

The Checkout – An acknowledgement of how our sport has stepped up to play its part in these difficult days! Thank you.

Read the full issue, and over fifty more (free of charge), in our digital archive: here

Watch and Learn: Coach Takes Issue With Some Accepted Norms.

In many sports you may hear the refrain, from modern pundits or commentators, “the game has moved on” or ” he has raised the bar”. We all like to compare the greats, of our favoured era, with players active today. It makes for great bar-room conversation and fires up the social media ‘opinionistas’.

Bygone days? Or can much be learned from past glory? Many greats appeared unique but often their styles or skills do not come from thin air and are transferred to future generations.

Our resident ‘Coach’ takes issue with the “game has moved on cry” he says:

In darts direct comparisons with previous eras can be made. Players often cross more than one “era” and with so many statistics, information and analysis tools available the archive is a virtual complete history of the modern game. Obviously factors such as opportunity to pay, competition level and equipment, must be taken into account but much can still be learned.

More important, than the booze-fuelled debates on who was the greatest, most talented, best stylist…….etc., is that almost any player can benefit from studying what has gone before. Often, especially with beginners, you will hear remarks like, “whatever feels comfortable is ok”, “don’t copy anyone else” and other similar remarks. These are meant to encourage players to develop naturally and not try, and fail, to play like someone else.

This is all well and good, as far as it goes, but to reject the information available seems wasteful at best and arrogant at worst. Bearing in mind that everyone, especially the young, will try to emulate those that they admire, or who are in the public eye, it seems questionable if they are all trying to play like MVG or Gary Anderson.

Spot the Difference? One uses a far less side on stance, nothing is compulsory even today.

Players of almost any style and stage of development could learn a thing or two from some YouTube and or research. Some myths may be dispelled, and more confidence be found in your own method,  if you seek common cause with the greats of the game.

Coach Takes a Stance!

An excellent example is in terms of stance. If you were guided by current players you might think that standing in a side on position was almost compulsory. Taylor, MVG, Cross and many other adopt versions of this position. The more face on stance could look awkward or old fashioned. In addition, you may think the short, wristy throw is a thing of the past. Yet a quick look at the most successful players, with very long careers, over many years, offers a different story.

Bob Anderson, Legendary Champion & singular in style. (Pic:PDC)

Bob Anderson made his TV debut in 1979 and still featured in the International Darts League in 2007. Along the way, he claimed the World Championship and three consecutive World Master’s titles. Bob was unfortunate enough to have to compete with Eric, John, Jockey and then Phil all in their prime. But despite his individual style few would question his place in the elite of the game.

Aussie Simon Whitlock’s style can be traced back through darts ‘family tree’.

Overlapping, with Bob, is the career of another face on, whristy short throw, tall player. Simon Whitlock first competed in the PDC in 2004. In 2018 he was ranked back in the top ten and featured in the Premier League. Whitlock is one of the few still active, to have played in both BDO & PDC World Finals and was a major finalist as recently as 2017.

A close look at footage of both players reveals many similarities. They are tall upright men in their normal posture. Both lean in with the majority of their weight on the front foot. Both get the best results when they level the dart before release. Both are very still and deliberate in their stance but once the throw begins they are very fluid and rat-tat-tat with the three darts. Both are good at moving on the oche and their finishing can be unstoppable.

In terms of equipment both use mid length barrels, 50.8mm, medium stems and a standard shape flight. Both seem to prefer the larger surface areato the flight to get their dart to stand up in the bed.

Simon has seen the light, and now uses the tapered dart, thus both use slim fronted darts to allow superb grouping. Simon has been experimenting recently with equipment and accessories.  Bob was also keen to adapt to the times and switched to aluminium stems quite early and later adapted the grip on his signature darts due to a lessening of sensation with age. Simon has not yet turned fifty so could emulate Bob’s longevity. It may be that there is something to be said for this style even today!

So if you have a wristy throw, or face on stance, take heed of these great players. Maybe look at your darts, set up or both. Make one small change at a time, to ensure that you can tell what is helpful and what is not, and give each one a decent chance to work in all conditions.

Could you watch and learn a thing or two?

Ones To Watch: When Your All Practised Out, Just Watch The Greats!

The DW resident ‘Coach’ often says that darts is a unique sport. Among many examples he cites the fact that “almost the entire history of our game can be watched or read. Not just with peoples opinion or commentary but with video, data , records and contemporary analysis.”

‘Coach’ regularly refers his clients to the record books to confirm whether their perceptions are true, or not, in order that they are not deluded into thinking that they are not worthy, or that they have some sort of flaw in their game.

One of his favourite things is to tell people to watch darts, but not just to see who wins. Watch the ebb and flow of the game, the momentum switches and the psychological tricks, swings and effects that take place throughout a match.

Check out one of his favourites below, it is a remarkable demonstration of elite darts. Coach is working on a commentary, and analysis of the match, for future use, but in the meantime just enjoy it for its own sake.

The ‘wee man’ was a little special!

World Championship Final 1989

Coach – ” You will rarely see, in any era, a performance as remarkable as this. Seven years after his first title and against a resurgent ‘Crafty Cockney’ “.

“I especially recommend the first five sets and the section that begins with Jockey’s second throw in the first leg!”

Darts World’s Resident Coach

Winmau & MVG Show Benefits Of New Partnership.

During 2019 word reached my ear that Winmau were making a major move in the ‘transfer market’. This came as somewhat of a relief as they had seemed in danger of becoming a shadow of their former selves. Upon discovering it was MVG, who was joining, the potential seemed obvious.

Winmau’s greatest asset was their board manufacture and reputation. Their player roster seemed a little stale and unexciting, times were about to change. It seemed to me that the tie up with the biggest name in professional darts opened doors to a style of sponsorship more like that of Eric Bristow, with Harrows, many years ago. Multiple products bearing Winmau and MVG logo’s and a much deeper tie-in across Winmau’s range of ‘your darts space’ items.

The following mini article appeared at yesterday and gives some clue to how the long term operation may work:

Michael van Gerwen Talks Blade

Michael van Gerwen Talks Blade

13 March, 2020
Without the dartboard there is no darts, and this is the most essential part that affects the game whether it’s on TV, at your local pub or at home.

So, we asked World no.1 Michael van Gerwen about his earliest memories of Winmau dartboards, his experiences and the Blade in particular.

Michael said “As a youngster coming through the system in the Netherlands, then the Netherlands Darts Federation, I was just surrounded by Winmau boards all the time. There were other dartboards but we didn’t seem to notice them as much as every major event we played on was a Winmau board”

Michael’s career blossomed from the age of 14-15 as he began to take the game more seriously. It was not long afterwards that Michael thrust himself into the spotlight at the 2006 Winmau World Masters, becoming the youngest ever winner and claiming his first ever major title, played on a Winmau Blade 3.

“Yeah my first ever major was won on a Winmau Blade 3, although at the time you didn’t notice what version of the dartboard you played on,” said Michael “You just knew that if it was a Winmau dartboard there was that feeling of reliability and quality, like a great car such as a BMW or Ferrari.”

MVG 2020

“Everyone who played knew Winmau and the brand name was so strong and synonymous with the game, so to fast forward 15 years and to have signed with such an iconic brand really is amazing.”

MVG 2020

Winmau’s Blade journey has taken shape over 25 years and the company has invested heavily in the research and development of the Blade concept, which has delivered some huge benefits to the game of darts.

With the current evolution of the Blade, the dartboard has got to a point where dart-on-dart bounce-outs far out-weigh rejections from the dartboard.

Michael has now seen first-hand the production process which Winmau work to and said “Having been and witnessed how much effort, skill and obsession goes into creating such a fantastic board, it really is fascinating.”

“This obsession to be the best is probably one of the biggest factors that makes myself and Winmau a perfect match, I have an almost identical desire and drive to produce the best in my game”

Michael’s journey with Winmau began at the start of this year and Mighty Mike has hit the ground running, lifting the UK Open title last weekend in dominant fashion.

This is just the beginning of Michael’s story with his new Winmau darts and we are very much looking forward being part of the journey as he continues to hunt down major trophies at the top of World darts.

It seems obvious that Micheal’s deal will include a certain amount of cross pollination and it would not surprise if there were not many other original promotion methods used to tell a story in a more complete and varied way. You Tube, social media and many other assets will be leveraged to spread the word about the “World Best” combination.

The MVG / Winmau relationship may prove a model for marque signings in the future. Although darts often sees itself as following golf, in its development, it often mirrors tennis in many ways. It does not take much to recall how Bjorn Borg broke the mold with sponsorship deals and packages with Fila & Donnay and how this was elevated by Adidas with Ivan Lendl and then Nike with Andre Agassi. Darts is now a global game and, much like 1970’s/80s tennis, its stars will be rewarded at a higher rate. It will be for major darts (and other companies) to learn how to extract maximum value in exchange for their increased investment.

Darts World Logo

This Week – Darts World’s Dip Into The Arrows’ Archive.

This Week on the darting calendar has varied considerably over the years. In the early days it was a barren time but by the middle of the 1980s it contained a classic event, in more recent times the PDC Pro Tour season has been underway:

A certain ‘Crafty’ thrower was busy claiming another TV title this week in 1985!

35 Years Ago:

The Dry Blackthorn Masters was at its peak. The tournament was similar to ‘Masters’ events played today or those held in Snooker and other sports. Sixteen top players were invited to do battle in front of the camera’s to provide TV with a, relatively short but, high class event. The tournament’s seven year history produced only four winners, but the list tells its own story.

John Lowe claimed the first title in 1983 before losing the next two finals to Eric Bristow including this week in 1985. John then reclaimed the title once more before the ‘Crafty Cockney’ completed a hat-trick in 1987. The final two titles were claimed by Mike Gregory and Bob Anderson completed the roll of honour. Only two other players even reached the final, ‘Big’ Cliff Lazerenko and Mick Manning being the only two to disrupt the legends dominance.

10 Years Ago:

This week marked a high-point for Darts World columnist Colin Osborne. ‘The Wizard’ reached a career high, so far, ranking within the top ten. Over the previous twelve months Colin claimed the Championship League of Darts and reached the UK Open Final. The superb run of performances were matched away from the TV cameras, Colin claimed a pair of Pro Tour Players Championships and would go on to a very fruitful rest of 2010.

20 Years Ago:

At the turn of the century Bob Aldous claimed his most significant title. The Scottish Open is on of the UK’s most valued Opens, its latest holding was claimed last weekend by Jim Williams. In a battle of two Englishmen Aldous defeated ‘The Pie Man’, Andy Smith, in the final. Later in the same year Bob reached the semi-final of the Finnish Open and qualified for the World Masters. He finished this great spell by reaching the last 32 in the 2001 World Championships losing out to the legendary Steve Beaton.

Last Year:

2019 featured a remarkable rise from The Asp.

Featured a remarkable rankings rise from Nathan Aspinall. This week, in Feb 2019, had The Asp ranked at number 34 in the PDC rankings, and that was after his semi final appearance at the World Championships a few weeks earlier. Fast forward twelve months and Nathan is now ranked No. 8. To move up twenty four places, at the highest end, is remarkable and to do it without a previous career in elite darts makes it unique. Along the way Aspinall has claimed his first major title, a 9 darts and floor tournament victories. It’s a testament to the rash of darting fairy tales, Rob Cross for example, that Aspinall is not regarded as the story of the recent times!

Harrows Go All In On Chizzy: Product Launch 2020.

Darts World have observed the resurgence of Harrows, over recent months and years, with a mixture of nostalgia, curiosity and pleasure. You cannot have documented both of Darts’ golden eras, which Darts World has, without retaining an affection for the brand which backed Bristow so wholeheartedly and was an important figure in the global expansion of our game.

Chizzy has been backed as the ‘No.1’ at, new sponsor, Harrows.

After the departure of Glen Durrant, who had played a big role in the resurgence, we were a little worried that they may slip back again. Not so. They almost immediately snaffled Chizzy and were rewarded when the St Helens man hit an upturn in performance in both majors and the tier Tours.

The immediatele launch of an attractive Chizzy signature dart, flight set and a trademark yellow shirt ensured that they were off and running in a new era. Today sees the expansion of that range in a big way.

Losing a three-time World Champ does not seem to have halted the Harrows revival.

Harrows have clearly gone for the, tried and tested, strategy of branding many products with the name, face, colour scheme and logo which Chizzy has made his own. It is not dissimilar to the approach taken with Eric all those years ago. Indeed some products remain almost unchanged!

The Endorsed Dart: There is now an 80% Tungsten Chizzy dart that will come in at the lower cost points, probably in the £25 region. It is a nice simple looking dart that should appeal to Chizzy fans and those looking for a dart that ticks many boxes at a lower cost.

The Family Game:

Reader will be very familiar with this beginner or introductory product. Many will have had one as youngsters and may well think of getting their own children started this way.

The combination of simple basic board that is reversible to play a simpler, bullseye based game, with a couple of sets of basic darts has been repackaged nicely and is sure to do well as always.

The Alloy Dart: In addition to the 80% version of Chizzy’s dart there is an alloy model that will be classed as cheap and cheerful. It carries the Chizzy name, and the branding, while appearing to be a coated brass style barrel.

Taken together with the Chizzy signature dart, and the shirts and accessories available, it is clear that Chizzy is now the brand leader for Harrows and that they hope this backing will lead to continued or expanded success, for their man, over coming years.

The Future:

In addition, Harrows have begun assembling a small team of up and coming players both here in Europe and across the world in the Australian and Asian markets. Players such as Josh Payne are showing superb progress and may well provide the brand with a a smooth transition in the future.

Oblivion: The latest non player barrel from Harrows.

Together with other, widely praised, recent product launches, that include new point technology and some very distinctive barrels, it seems that Harrows are well and truly back in the top echelon of darting brands. We at Darts World hope that this does as much for the game as it managed in the 1980’s and beyond.

The Original Storm Dennis: When Priestly Blew Away The Legendary Generation.

We could not help but notice a social media post from Winmau this morning. The item made reference to Dennis Priestley in the context of the current weather front, battering the UK, nick-named Storm Dennis!

The Menace ( Pic: Winmau Design)

30 years ago, Dennis ‘The Menace‘ Priestley blew into the world of elite darts. He reached the News of the World final and then the final of the World Masters (1990) within months of appearing at the highest level. It should be noted that he was already a seasoned county player and was 38/9 years of age.

But it was the during the 1991 World Championship that Dennis really announced his arrival. On his way to claiming the crown he dispatched several notable players with ease. A close tussle in the Qtr-Final with Phil Taylor, was a sign that the next generation, in terms of experience, had arrived. With Taylor out of the way Dennis breezed past Bob Anderson in the semi-final and then whitewashed Eric Bristow 6-0 (sets) in the final.

Priestley demonstrated at least two unique features during the event. Firstly, he demonstrated a total impervious response to the efforts of the big boys to intimidate him. Eric was swatted aside in the final, despite holding all the external cards, with Dennis demonstrating an understated, fully focused style that owed little to the Crafty Cockney’s showman-like ways.

Secondly, and of huge importance, was Dennis’s use of the baord. Rather than a switch to the 19s, for evening the score or if badly blocked, Dennis appeared use treble 18s as a regular scoring alternative. This increased his scoring average and earn’t him additional darts at double, not that he often needed them.

Perhaps due to the ease of watching, for the TV camera, or simply because it seemed new, The Menace generated a lot of attention, from commentators and players alike, indeed the development of the heavy scoring, often switching game, somewhat used by Taylor but, honed by modern players such as Adrian Lewis can be traced to Dennis’s performances.

Next year will doubtless see a resurgence in interest in ‘The Menace’, indeed there has already been a special edition dart released in anticipation, but perhaps this will serve as a reminder that the inaugural PDC World Champion, and the first to win in both codes, was indeed a breath of fresh air, blowing out most of those who had gone before and bringing in a new era.