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Eric Bristow: 180!

World-famous darts player Eric Bristow (nicknamed the Crafty Cockney) will be lovingly remembered as the first celebrity player and the man who brought the sport to life. He dominated the darts world throughout the 1980s and '90s and was awarded the MBE in 1989, largely for transforming darts into a global spectator sport.

This larger-than-life character, renowned for the speed of his finishes, was ranked number one a record six times by the World Darts Federation between 1980 and 1990. He won five World Masters titles and between 1980 and 1986, he was world champion five times.

Following Bristow's sudden death at the age of 60, after he collapsed while watching a Professional Darts Corporation Premier League event at Liverpool's Echo Arena on 5th April, thousands of shocked fans at the venue began singing, "There's only one Eric Bristow."

Bristow's legacy has been to transform darts from a pub game into today's modern spectator sport, with its own star players, sold-out arenas and the glitz and razzamatazz fans have come to know and love.


Early life

Born in Hackney, London, on 25th April 1957, Bristow later admitted to being involved in petty crime as a youth, despite the privilege of his grammar school education. However, after his father bought him a darts board at the age of 11, it transformed his life.

He soon realised he was an amazingly skilled player and joined the local darts team at 14. By the age of 15, he started making serious money from winning tournaments - in fact, he earned more in prize money than he did from his salaried job as an advertising agency proof-reader.

Soon, he became a full-time darts player and for two decades he was invincible. He was recognised for his trademark technique of having his little finger outstretched. He became known as the flamboyant young player who stood out in an era when most darts players would drink a pint and smoke cigarettes, even when on TV.


Bristow earned his nickname, the Crafty Cockney, from visiting an English pub of the same name during a trip to Santa Monica in California. While there, he was given a brightly-coloured shirt depicting a Union flag, a British policeman and the words "Crafty Cockney" - the name stuck throughout his life.

He continued playing professionally until 2007 and in his own words had "done it all" by the time he was 30, after being world champion five times. He played against some of the darts world greats, including triumphs against Jocky Wilson, John Lowe, Tony Payne and Jack McKenna, to name but a few.

The darts ace also mentored a young Phil "The Power" Taylor in the 1980s, generously sponsoring him to the tune of £10,000 to fund his future development in darts. Taylor went on to challenge Bristow - who may have regretted doing such a great job in coaching him!



Retiring from professional darts in 2007, Bristow became a darts pundit for Sky Sports. He played in a few competitions after his official retirement, including the BetFred League of Legends tournament.

He also famously competed in the television reality show, I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, in 2012, when he lived life in the jungle with fellow competitors on the famous ITV show. He finished fourth out of 12 celebrity competitors, being voted out on 29th November 2012. He remained a Sky Sports commentator until November 2016.

Darts commentator Rod Harrington, a former world number one player, said having a personality like Eric Bristow in the sport was crucial to darts. "People then sit up and watch," he said, following Bristow's death, adding “darts wouldn't be the prominent sport it is today without his influence.”

We can't promise you'll play like Eric Bristow if you use Coruba's professional heavy-duty rubber darts mat, but we can assure you of a top-quality mat, made of 100% rubber and suitable for home, pub or club use. Each mat includes tournament oche measurements and offers high-grip, anti-slip benefits to assure stability.

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