1978 WDF Europe Cup I
After the success of the first World Cup in 1977 in London, it was decided to hold the first WDF Europe Cup darts a year later from 1 to 3 September in Copenhagen, Denmark. Eleven countries took part in this, including Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1978, there were only men's teams competing for four titles. Singles, pairs, teams and of course the overall title.
The first year was played with eleven teams in a knockout format, so there is little possibility to get comfortable in the game. In the team event, England’s top favourites John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Cliff Lazarenko and Doug McCarthy loose 9-8 in the semi-finals to the Scots Rab Smith, George Nicholl, Jocky Wilson and Eric MacLean. Wales with Alan Evans, Tony Ridler, Leighton Rees and John Assiratti win their semi-final over the Republic of Ireland represented by Charles Byrne, Shay O'Brien, Jim McQuillan and Sean Morris with 9-5.
England still wins the bronze medal beating the Irish 9-5. The Scots convincingly beat the Welshmen 9-3 and so they take the first ever gold in the team event at a WDF Europe Cup.
In the pairs event, surprises happen when Tony Ridler and John Assiratti from Wales are beaten in the first round by the Danish pair Jan Larsen & Kaj Mortensen 4-3. Belgium with Arnold Vandepoele & Willy Delaere also surprise everyone by reaching the semi-finals. They beat Sweden and the Republic of Ireland on their way. Unfortunately for them they lose after a tight match to Cliff Lazarenko & Douglas McCarthy with 4-3. In the other semi-final the pre-tournament favourite pairings of John Lowe & Eric Bristow meet Alan Evans & Leighton Rees. The English beat the Welsh 4-3.
In 1978 there is also a battle for third place, the only year that this is the case, incidentally. Alan Evans & Leighton Rees take the bronze by beating Belgians Arnold Vandepoele and Willy Delaere convincingly 4-0. In a complete English final John Lowe & Eric Bristow are way too strong for Cliff Lazarenko & Doug McCarthy, the score is 4-0. After winning the first WDF World Cup pairs a year earlier, they now also take the first European Cup.
In the singles we see some contenders for the title disappear from the tournament early on. For example, reigning Winmau World Masters and British Open winner Eric Bristow lose in the last 16 to none other than Leighton Rees who in turn loses to Scot Jocky Wilson in the quarterfinals. Alan Evans also loses in the last 16 to the Swedish star Stefan Lord who won the News of the World Championship earlier that year.
In the semi-finals there was an all-English clash; John Lowe won 4-0 against Doug McCarthy. In the other semi-final, it was Welshman Tony Ridler, who beat Cliff Lazarenko amongst others on his way to the last four, against Jocky Wilson. It's the Scot who wins that encounter 4-2.
The bronze medal battle is a prey for Doug McCarthy, who beats Tony Ridler 4-3. In the final, John Lowe beats Jocky Wilson 4-1 to win the first edition of the WDF Europe Cup.
In 1978, the overall classification convincingly goes to John Lowe, Eric Bristow, Cliff Lazarenko and Doug McCarthy for England with 108 points, helped by the gold in the singles and the gold in the couples. Overall silver is for Scotland with 59 points, thanks in part to the gold in the team event. Wales finished third with 38 points ahead of the Irish with 23 points. Belgium takes a nice fifth place with 21 points.
1 - 108 points England
2 - 59 points Scotland
3 - 38 points Wales
4 - 23 points Ireland Republic
5 - 21 points Belgium
6 - 17 points Sweden
7 - 16 points Denmark
8 - 15 points Netherlands
9 - 14 points Cyprus / Finland / Germany