How fame ruined my life'
PUBLISHED: 11:11 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 17:25 25 August 2010
DARTS legend Andy The Viking Fordham says his drink-fuelled celebrity lifestyle led to the dramatic collapse of his career and health.
DARTS legend Andy 'The Viking' Fordham says his drink-fuelled celebrity lifestyle led to the dramatic collapse of his career and health.
Mr Fordham, 47, formerly of The Rose pub, Dartford, became an overnight sensation when he won the BDO (British Darts Corporation) world title in 2004.
Since then he has been plagued with health issues, culminating in his collapse on live television during a match with then PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) champ Phil Taylor in the same year.
As his health deteriorated and form crashed, he was then told he needed a liver transplant.
But, this week he revealed to the Times that he has quit his second pub - The Cutty Sark in Thamesmead - to focus on his darts fightback.
He said: "In a strange way, winning the world championship was both a great thing and a bad thing.
"My game pretty much went downhill very rapidly after that and I was drinking more and more because I was being asked to go along to all sorts of events. I didn't really like the whole celebrity thing and, if I get back to the top, I will try and limit that and look after my money a lot better.
"I have had a little bit of a lay-off recently because of personal reasons and things haven't got back on track as I would have liked, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I could make it."
Comparing himself to other troubled sport legends, he added: "People think that they know you and that you are their property, and I found it hard to deal with.
"I can only imagine what it was like for people like George Best and Gazza, it must have been horrible for them dealing with alcoholism so publicly."
A year after his collapse, Mr Fordham - weighing a whopping 31 stone and regularly necking bottles of Becks before competing - took part in ITV's Celebrity Fit Club, losing three stone.
His health took a turn for the worse again in 2007 and, in 2008, he applied for a liver transplant.
Yet, he said it was his childhood sweetheart, mother of his two children and wife Jenny's brave battle with cancer that has kept him focused in recent years.
He said: "When Jenny told me she had cancer, I was devastated and she managed to stay stronger than me even though she was sick.
"My illness was something I did to myself and I knew I had to make a change for her.
"Everything is going great for her. She is in remission now and doing fantastic."
Since his stuttering return to the circuit, 'The Viking' has transferred from the BDO to the PDC faction.
He hopes the switch will help him re-discover his form and more importantly boost his winnings, but he has not ruled out running a pub in the future.
Now alcohol-free he admitted the upcoming PDC World Championships will increase his desire to get back to the top.
Backing James Wade to take the title, he hopes that next year he will be at the oche taking in the atmosphere.
He said: "I have done a bit of publicity and punditry but I would love to get back to the top of the game, playing in front of those crowds at the highest level is such a buzz."
The fight-back starts this Sunday when Fordham competes in the Red Dragon Christmas Classic Tournament at Coombe Lodge, Charlton Road, Blackheath.
Amateur enthusiasts will be able to challenge several professionals for the £500 prize money including Steve Maish, Andy Jenkins, Fordham and Mark Walsh.
Players wishing to enter the competition can enter online for £5 or register on the day from 11am for £7.
Mr Fordham released his no-holds-barred autobiography 'The Viking' last month which is available from all good bookstores or through his official website www.andy-theviking-fordham.com.