For this weeks glance into darting history we are going to visit, that glorious darting decade, the 1980’s. We feature Eric, John, Dave Whitcombe and a certain Peter Evison. A Masters pattern emerges along the way.
1981 – Bristow Claims Hatrick at The Masters
The remarkable ‘Crafty Cockney’ was in superb shape in the early 80s, indeed much of the legend that is Eric Bristow was formed during these years. This week in ’81 part of me thinks Eric was simply trying do-over, John Lowe, again! The previous year Lowe had become the second player to claim more than one title. Being as they played each other, in the final Eric, must have wanted to exert his dominance and again set records.
Serious players should watch the final as an example of match play, set play, game management. Both players are aware of the threat from the other. Eric subdues much of his flamboyance in order to ensure consistency. Lowe does tremendously, too hold on and produces some superb single legs. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8y617clZi4
In the end, though, I suspect that this game is a perfect summary of the two players. Both outstanding but, all other things being equal, Eric had that little more.
1985 – Whitcombe Joins Multiple Masters!
Dave had managed to break the dominance of Lowe and Bristow, in The Masters, during 1982. This week, in ’85, he did it again! In claiming his second title he joined the club of players, yep you guessed it, John & Eric!, to have picked it up more than once. Whitcomb had a mixed run to the title. He had to defeat Mike Gregory in the Qtr-Final and then Bob Anderson in the Semi.
In the final, however, he faced Ray Farrel. Ray was having a superb run, reaching his first, and only, major final. It is fair to say Dave was a different class of player, from those Ray had met so far, and he wrapped up a 3-0 win in style. Dave has often been overlooked due to the remarkable players in his era. But you don’t win Two Masters’ and The News of the World Title against those guys unless you are a top draw player.
1989 – Fenn Tiger Tames Legends.
Sticking with a Masters theme, how many players can claim to have won their first major by defeating Phil Taylor in the semi-final and Eric Bristow in the final! The diminutive Peter Evison, aka ‘The Fenn Tiger’ did just that this week in 1989.
Peter is perhaps the only player to “come from nowhere” twice! Almost a decade after this superb performance he did it again. In 1997 he returned to his very best and claimed the PDC World Matchplay in the qtr final he produced an 8-1 thumping of a certain Mr Taylor! He also had to squeak past Dennis Priestley to claim that one. A bit of an expert, in taming the legends, was Mr Evison.
Following Peter’s win, in 1989, none of that quartet of early darts greats; Eric, John, Jockey or Bob claimed another Masters title. Even Taylor claimed his only title in 1990.