James Wade has paid a heartfelt tribute to the late Eric Bristow MBE, as he prepares to compete for the trophy named in Bristow’s honour at the 2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts.
The legendary ‘Crafty Cockney’ passed away suddenly on April 5th at the age of 60, having enjoyed an astonishing career in the sport. As well as winning five World Championship titles, Bristow was also a five-time World Masters winner and arguably the most iconic figure in the game’s history.
Bristow played an integral role in the creation of the PDC, but the most successful period of his career came in the BDO, therefore shortly after his death, the PDC announced that the Grand Slam would be renamed The Eric Bristow Trophy.
The PDC Hall of Fame member was a close friend and mentor to Wade- who is bidding to win a third successive televised title in Wolverhampton, and ‘The Machine’ has paid a fitting tribute to the five-time world champion.
“It would be lovely to win the first Eric Bristow Trophy, I was lucky enough to be close to him,” said the two-time Grand Slam finalist.
“He was a good man, an honest man and darts will always be at a loss now he’s not there, and I will be at a loss because I have lost a friend. Eric made darts fashionable in the early days and he was probably more passionate about the game than anyone.
“He had his biggest influence on my career when I was struggling the most and for someone like Eric to say ‘I believe in you, I’m going to take you under my wing until you start winning again’ meant so much to me.
“Deep down, beneath his hard exterior Eric was one of the softest, most gentle men I’ve ever met and to have him on my shoulder through the tricky times was a lovely thing to have. It’s a shame he wasn’t here to see me win my two recent titles but I’ll soldier on and try to add his trophy to my cabinet.”
Wade has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence over recent weeks. He ended his four-year wait for a major title with victory over Simon Whitlock in the European Championship Final, before edging out Michael Smith in a thriller at the World Series Finals to become just the fifth player in PDC history to win back-to-back televised titles.
The nine-time major winner will kick off his Grand Slam campaign against Dutchman Wesley Harms on Saturday evening. Wade has also been paired with former World Youth champion Keegan Brown and three-time quarter-finalist Mark Webster in Group C, and few would back against him securing the much coveted hat-trick over the next week.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC