Leading figures from across the world of sport have paid tribute to darts icon Eric Bristow, who died yesterday at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack.
The five-time world darts champion was described as a “true legend in the game” by current king of the oche Michael van Gerwen while fans at Liverpools Echo Arena, where Bristow had been for a Premier League Darts night, immediately and repeatedly paid tribute in song as they heard the news yesterday.
Multiple renditions of “theres only one Eric Bristow” were a fitting send-off for the crafty cockney who was one of darts most charismatic characters and outsized personalities.
Bristow was world champion five times between 1980 and 1986, capturing the imagination of a new generation of fans at a time when darts was reaching into the mainstream with increased TV coverage. On top of his world championships, he also won five World Masters titles, was awarded an MBE for his services to sport in 1989 and was a founding member of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
“The sport of darts owes him everything,” said reigning world champion Rob Cross.
“He made it the huge success it is today. He was the first superstar of darts, an amazing player but also a massive character. One of my biggest inspirations. Hell be sorely missed.”
Other sportsmen to pay tribute to Bristow included heavyweight boxer David Haye, a fellow contestant on ITV reality show Im A Celebrity, who said the darts player was “a real gent” who will be “missed by many”. Snooker legend Ronnie OSullivan called Bristow “a great mate”.
PDC chairman Barry Hearn, who worked closely with Bristow throughout his career, said he was “a character with a capital c”.
“He is probably one of the reasons why darts is where it is today,” said Hearn.
“It hasnt lost touch with the ordinary man, because it is made up of ordinary men with extraordinary ability, and Bristow was the ringleader from the beginning.”