ERIC BRISTOW - Eddie Norman remembers

I first met Eric at the Crafty Cockney pub in Santa Monica, California in 1976. Bob Martel the smiling California business man friend of Tom Fleetwood (founder of the North America Darts Organisation) had sponsored several West of England darts players including Leighton Rees, Kim Brown, Alan Evans and Cyril Hayes all of whom I managed for the trip to The North American Open. In exchange the players would take part in an exhibition at the Crafty Cockney against the 'Pride of California.'
All the players were given Crafty Cockney shirts to wear with the famous policeman on representing the UK and other souvenirs of the fabulous pub (now a car park).

Eric was at the pub, and later played, and I certainly saw his talent; a talent I was to witness and be overawed by many times in my darts journey around the world. Eric was also given a Crafty Cockney shirt, which was to see him make it famous for the next 42 years.
When Eric played his first county game for London versus The West of England in Bristol before a 2,000 partisan crowd I offered to mark the match. Afterwards he said to me, that he was so nervous he was physically sick with nerves before the match.
At the United Services Club, in Ynysbwl, home of Leighton Rees, Eric was playing an exhibition match I had arranged against Alan Evans ('Pride of the Valleys') which as always was a great needle match between the two and, as always, every Welshman shouting for Alan. However, that did not put Eric off one iota. He just played the crowd who at the end cheered him loudly. Afterwards Eric gave a great speech and said "I will win the World Masters which Eddie here had founded (and Alan had won only once), five times" which he duly did with his last win in 1984.

In 1989 I met Eric at Buckingham Palace in London when we both received MBE's in the New Year's Honours from The Queen. It was amazing to see the press coverage that Eric received after the ceremony. Other recipients, nothing at all to do with darts, all seemed to know who Eric was.
Eric came over and told me he fulfilled his promise of winning five World Masters when he told us he would and thanked me for founding the World Masters and that winning the World Masters gave many players a living in darts.

I saw Eric many times over the years, and followed his career, He often asked if I fancied a drink and was amazed when he learned I was teetotal and used to joke he had put in a Diet Coke at the bar for me and to "Be careful what's in it."

Eric, like a few of his early rivals in darts, did a wonderful job in promoting the sport of darts. It is such a shame that he passed away so early at just 60 years of age. He had so much to offer the sport of darts.

He will be sadly missed but I will remember him for being the great darts player and showman that he was; a great man with a great personality and a great heart who was a great pleasure to know and just loved his darts.

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