Bristow Rolls Back The Years

Eric Bristow turned back the clock to his 1980s heyday with a dramatic 7-5 win against Bobby George in the Betfred.com League of Legends at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern.

The five-time former world champion repeated his victory over George in the 1980 world final as he belied his status as a 5/1 underdog to turn over the sponsors’ pre-tournament second favourite.

The Crafty Cockney always appeared to hold the upper hand and when he hit double 15, having missed the bull on his previous visit to the oche, it put him one leg away from victory at 6-4.

In the next leg it was George whose shot at the bullseye just evaded its target when on a 161 finish but he checked out to make it 6-5.

Yet Bristow was full of determination against his old rival and after reaching his favourite double 16 in the final leg and finding the single with his first dart, he checked out on double eight to record another famous triumph.

“Bobby has been the leader of our pack on the exhibition circuit recently and I expected him to beat me tonight,” admitted Bristow.

“But I’ve won my first game and now I can go home, practise like anything and I’ll beat the lot of them!”

The Leek-based legend relished the fantastic atmosphere within the venue and added: “I enjoyed seeing people in the same seats as they were 15 years ago. There were people supporting me and John Lowe and some of them are happy and some of them are not.

“I’m bubbling now because I’ve got two points on the board – I’m going to go on and win this thing now!”

Whitcombe On A High Against Lowe

Dave Whitcombe confounded the bookmakers’ expectations by inflicting a 7-3 defeat on John Lowe in their opening Betfred.com League of Legends match.

The Kent publican was the 7/4 outsider with the sponsors but indicated he could be a dark horse for the title with a fluent victory.

“I actually thought it was quite an even game,” said Whitcombe, a two-time former World Championship runner-up.

“The difference was that I finished better than John. We were evenly matched but when we got down to the doubles I went out.

“I was very nervous because we all want to produce a great product, we all know we can play well and we want to do well for everyone we know.

“It was a fabulous atmosphere and completely different to what we are used to in some ways in that everyone in the crowd appreciates good darts.”

Lowe was phlegmatic about his loss and said: “I was playing really well in the practice room but it was totally different when I got on stage.

“But I’ll get over it – it’s only one setback.”

Cowboy Fights Back

Bob Anderson showed why he was the pre-tournament favourite for the Betfred.com League of Legends when he battled back to force a 6-6 draw with Peter Evison.

The 60-year-old from Clevedon looked set for a heavy defeat when he trailed 4-1 and 5-2 but dug in and showed the quality that earned him the 1988 world title.

A 68 finish reduced Anderson’s arrears to 6-5 and despite a few nerves in the final leg, he took out double eight to share the points with the Fen Tiger.

“It was a tremendous game,” said the Limestone Cowboy. “I thought when the draw came out that I had the toughest match on the opening night.

“I’m delighted to have played him and got a point because it means I won’t have to play him later in the event to try to reach the semi-finals.

“I’m looking forward to perhaps playing him on finals night (August 22).

“I enjoyed it out there – not so much when I was 4-1 down but especially so when I made it 6-6. I wasn’t prepared to lie down.

“It was a terrific atmosphere and I was very proud to be part of it. I can’t wait now for Blackburn on June 20.”

Evison admitted he thought he had done enough when he was on the brink of success. “That match showed how the Betfred.com League of Legends is going to be – no win is guaranteed,” said the 44-year-old from Middlesex.

“When I got to six legs I thought I had done my job but I hadn’t – I should have buried him. I let him off.

“Hopefully I will see Bob in the final and if I do I won’t let him off that time.”

Deller Makes History At The Tavern

Keith Deller made history when he won the first ever Betfred.com League of Legends match with a 7-5 victory against Cliff Lazarenko at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern.

The 1983 world champion was never behind after taking the opener with a 65 checkout and although Big Cliff hit back to draw level at 2-2, a run of three consecutive legs sent Deller clear.

However, Lazarenko, never one to give up, recovered to trail 6-5 and then notched the only 180 of the match to put himself in with a chance of a 6-6 draw.

But the Wellingborough heavyweight missed tops to earn a point and Deller took out double 10 to establish himself as the early leader in the table.

“That was the hardest match I will play in the Betfred.com League of Legends because Cliff is my best mate,” said Deller. “I was very nervous and I missed six or seven chances to get a 180, which annoyed me. I kept getting the first two darts in the treble 20, which raised the crowd’s expectations.

“I think the atmosphere was like a final. It was absolutely fantastic. Cliff and I drew the short straw because nobody wanted to go on first, but I’ve got the win and now I’m into the tournament.

“I want to win the Betfred.com League of Legends and I’m good enough to do it. I will get better and better and I’m as keyed up as I was at my peak.”

RESULTS AND STATISTICS

Keith Deller 7-5 Cliff Lazarenko
Bob Anderson 6-6 Peter Evison
Dave Whitcombe 7-3 John Lowe
Eric Bristow 7-5 Bobby George

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