Keith Deller’s victory over Eric Bristow in the final of the World Championship has gone down in darting legend.
The previously little known qualifier from Ipswich stunned the all-conquering player of the 1980s, clinching the title with a stunning 138 finish. It was the highlight of Deller’s career and he continues to be known as the ‘138 man’ to many. But there are a number of fascinating backstories to that final, including one of Bristow’s father, George, betting on Deller to win throughout that tournament.
George Bristow was a regular at his son’s tournaments and often bumped into Deller at the 1983 event, held at the Jollees venue in Stoke. Deller, by his own admission, was feeling extremely confident, regularly predicting victories over his next opponents. Little did he know at the time, but George Bristow was taking heed by piling money on him to progress.
“Me and Eric became great friends and he told me a few years later,” Deller told The Darts Podcast. “He said ‘my dad was having a bet on you every day’. He was putting 20 pounds on because I always about 5/1, 6/1."
Deller defeated darts legends John Lowe and Jocky Wilson in the quarter-finals and semi-finals to set up a meeting with Bristow junior, leaving Bristow senior with a tricky dilemma.
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“Eric told him to have a bet on me in the final and George said ‘I can’t bet against you’. Eric said ‘if I beat him, you’ve still done well, but if Keith beats me, you’ve won some more money. So Eric couldn’t have been confident as he wouldn’t have said that to George.”
The rest, as they say, is history with Deller securing a 6-5 win thanks to his legendary checkout. Defeat was tough to take for Bristow, who had won the 1980 and 1981 titles. After the match, he made it clear to Deller that the trophy was only out on loan.
“People ask if he spoke to me afterwards? Yeah, just one sentence: ‘Enjoy it because you’ve only got that trophy for one year’. That’s all he said to me. Not even ‘well done’. And he won it the next three years after that.”
Bristow sadly passed away in 2018, aged 60, while Deller, 62, recently returned to competitive action as part of the World Seniors Darts Tour.
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