The Crafty Cockney, by Eric Bristow

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The Independent Culture

A petty thief and violent gang member in his youth, Eric Bristow went about his north London business with a claw hammer down his trousers. He soon realised his future lay in his precocious ability with the tools of his other trade, darts. In the early 1980s he reigned supreme, winning five world titles. His lippy arrogance made him a player the crowd loved to hate, and his autobiography shows it's not hard to see why.

Put bluntly, Bristow doesn't come across as very pleasant. He states his philosophy early – "Most people are basically wallies" – and what his publishers claim is "a thrill-a-minute ride through the raucous world of darts" is too often a catalogue of binge-drinking and yobbish behaviour.

In the late 1980s, he was struck down by an inability to release his darts and, as his career tailed off, he took another player, Phil Taylor, under his wing. This week, Taylor begins his quest for a 14th world title, while Bristow is working for Sky. His ultimately sad book hits a target but not the one he was aiming at.

Published in hardback by Century, £18.99

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