Column #340 The Crafty Cockney’s “Autobiography”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Column 340
The Crafty Cockney’s “Autobiography”

Perhaps it’s just me and perhaps it doesn’t matter – but as I recall my third grade teacher’s explanation, an autobiography is a book written by the bloke it’s about and a biography is written for a bloke who can’t write by another bloke who can.

So when in 1985 Deryk Brown penned the official biography of controversial darts legend Erik Bristow, well… that made sense.

But now, Paul Carter (a career sports journalist known most recently for writing the critically un-acclaimed Behind Palace Doors) has (as Bristow himself acknowledges) written the Crafty One’s autobiography and, well… that just doesn’t make sense. Either that or my third grade teacher was wrong, not that that matters either.

I’ve never been a fan of Eric Bristow’s. Probably he doesn’t even know who the hell I am – and if he does, I’m certain he’s no fan of mine either…

We were originally introduced by the late Barry Twomlow. I remember Twomlow saying, “Hey Eric, do you know Dartoid here?” Bristow mumbled something and extended his had to shake mine, pinky finger out of course. Twomlow then says to me, “Dartoid, let me introduce Eric Bristow.” And I, known for sometimes being just as much of an arsehole as Bristow can be, extended my hand, looked him in the eye and pondered, “Bristow, Eric Bristow – do you have something to do with darts?” Suffice it to say Bristow promptly withdrew his hand, called me a four letter word, grabbed his beer from the bar and turned on his heel.

We next crossed paths in a bar at the MGM in Las Vegas after John Lowe’s daughter was married. We had a few beers with Lowe and some others but not a word passed between us. SCREW HIM I thought.

The last time I saw Bristow was at one of the Las Vegas Desert Classics. At the time, the PDC was running my daily column on the front page of their website. One evening I posted a story off to then PDC executive director, Tim Darby, in which I referred to Bristow as something I think it best not to repeat here – and went on to say that if he were to come near me I’d punch him in the face. Not surprisingly, the first thing in the morning Darby was in touch to set me straight. “For crisssake, have you lost your mind? We’re the frickin’ PDC – we can’t very well keep running your column if you insist on referring to the five-time world champion in such incredibly derogatory terms!”

I mention all this because I was predisposed to loath Bristow’s book – even though a part of me hoped I would not.

Truth be told, I loved it. I couldn’t put it down.

The reason I hoped I’d like this book is because over the years I’ve come to learn that despite his well-crafted brash and arrogant public persona Bristow the man is someone entirely different. And truth again be told – it is John Lowe, for years Bristow’s nemesis, who set me straight. It was slow to sink in but as I began to understand how very much Bristow personally risked when he led the player’s break from the British Darts Organization (BDO) I came to appreciate that Bristow was a man of principle, a darts players’ darts player. The caution he threw to the wind, his role and his leadership in this most integral event in the history of our sport are equally worthy of “legend” status as all of his victories at the line.

There is one more thing about Bristow. Perhaps it’s a little primordial but then that can be an extremely enticing thing. In a way Bristow’s a bit like a youthful Jack Nicolas or Mike Tyson at the end of his career. He’s someone who, almost like a mamba behind glass at the zoo, attracts attention and draws energy from knowing that those who flock to observe his display are partly put off, expecting the unexpected and rooting for their defeat.

The Crafty Cockney, to be published by Century today (December 18, 2008) in conjunction with this year’s PDC world championship, captures all the above – the tough guy persona… the player’s player… and more. Available for about $25 at Amazon, it’s worth every penny even though one idiot at the SEWA darts website has his doubts. “I’m not much of a reader,” he wrote, “but it would seem interesting to read.” Duh.

It’s all here, much of it previously reported, some of it new and bits of it offensive (at least if you’re reading through the eyes of America’s Conrad Daniels or Australia’s Rusty Stewart).

From Bristow’s early years as a gang member, thief and thug to his first world title in 1980 and the incredible string of success and high life that followed, to open and emotional accounts of private personal matters – including failed relationships with two ex-wives and his continuing struggle with dartitis – this fast-moving account is chock-full of history, humor and war stories unlike any you’re going to find anywhere else among the meager stock of books ever written about our sport.

BUY IT I SAY! Biography or autobiography, Bristow fan or not, you’ll be damn glad you did.

For additional (and more traditional) reviews by Dr. Patrick Chaplin and David King just click here: the Doctor’s Website and here: the King’s website.

From the Field,

Dartoid

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.

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