Tributes pour in for darts legend Eric Bristow (60) following his passing
Tributes have been paid to five-time world champion Eric Bristow, who has died aged 60 after suffering a heart attack.
The Professional Darts Corporation announced the passing of the 'Crafty Cockney' during Thursday night's Premier League fixture in Liverpool.
Immediately after the news broke, fans at the Echo Arena burst into a rendition of "There's only one Eric Bristow" as commentator Rod Studd stopped speaking.
It was a fitting tribute to the man PDC chairman Barry Hearn described as "a legend".
One of darts' first superstar players, Bristow won his five titles as a player in the British Darts Organisation, dominating the sport between 1980 and 1986. His first title, a 5-3 defeat of Bobby George, marked the start of his dynasty.
A founder player as a number of leading names formed the breakaway World Darts Council (now PDC), Bristow continued to be a key personality within the sport even after his talents waned.
His friendship with Phil Taylor saw him mentor the 'The Power' to become the greatest player of all time while he eventually moved into broadcasting with Sky Sports, combining commentary duties with working as a spotter, plotting checkouts for the players.
"Eric will always be a legend in the world of darts and British sport. He was a tremendous player and a huge character and even after his retirement fans would travel for miles to meet him and see him play," Hearn said.
"Eric was never afraid of controversy, but he spoke as he found and was honest and straightforward which is what people admired about him. The PDC, and the sport of darts, will miss him."
The unexpected death of Bristow cast an immediate shadow over events in Liverpool - commentator Stuart Pyke said Bristow had been at the arena during the action before his heart attack.
As news broke, the players on stage - Peter Wright and Daryl Gurney - and Sky's commentary team were unable to contain their emotions with all in tears.
Keith Deller, the 1983 world champion - beating Bristow in that final - said on stage: "I'm devastated, me and Eric were together all the time.
"What he's done for our game, tonight, if it wasn't for Eric, no one would be here tonight."
Two-time world champion Michael van Gerwen tweeted: "Just heard the latest horrible news that Eric Bristow has passed away. My thought are with his family at this sad time. True legend in the game! #RIPEric #legend"
Fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld wrote on Twitter: "He was darts he meant so much to me, cannot believe it !! My thoughts go out to his wife and family."
Andy Fordham, BDO world champion in 2004, tweeted: "Can't believe my hero has gone my thoughts are with his family R.I.P Eric"