According to many an English dictionary, the word “Underdog” signifies “a competitor least likely to win a fight or contest”. Step forward 23-year-old Keith Deller from Ipswich, the 66/1 qualifier who had fought adversity throughout the tournament by beating No.2 seed John Lowe in the QF and No.3 seed Jocky Wilson in the SF. The No.1 seed stood between him and the 1983 silver trophy.
That No.1 seed was 2-times World Champion, Eric “The Crafty Cockney” Bristow. Approximately 10 million viewers tuned in to watch the epic David v Goliath encounter on Saturday tea-time at the Jollees Cabaret Club in Stoke-on-Trent. Would it be a quick knock-out or a 15 round slugfest of epic historical proportions?
The final certainly didn’t disappoint as Deller raced into a 3 to 1 sets lead, but Bristow wasn’t having any of it and made it three all. Keith came out fighting and made it 5-3 only to miss 6 Championship winning darts for a magical and fairytale ending.
Eric sensed weakness and seized his chance again to win another two rounds and made it five sets all. This was sporting television at its finest, and the gloves were now off as Bristow hit the opening double of the 11th set to be ahead in the contest for the very first time. But not for long. Deller had dug deep yet again to win the next two legs to set up THAT world famous finish!
Fast forward and Bristow was on a checkout of 121 with Deller on 138. Eric hit 17 and treble 18 to leave the Bullseye. The cameraman zoomed in on the middle of the board expecting an arrow to hit the 50. Not to be. Eric hit 18 to leave double 16 thinking that Keith would simply not take out 138 under extreme pressure. Hindsight can be a wonderful thing!
Without hesitation and a man with sheer willpower, Deller dealt a severe combination to his hapless opponent. Treble 20 and treble 18 were hit with aplomb. The final uppercut was dealt, and double 12 had been the knock-out punch. Bristow was on the canvas for the ten count while Deller, arms aloft similar to Rocky Balboa, wore the BDO Championship belt plus a purse of £8,000. Complacency. Delirium. You just couldn’t write the script if you tried!
Even after 35 years, a 138 checkout is still known as “A Deller”! Plus, we all love an Underdog.