Andy Fordham - Exclusive Interview
When interviewing someone it^s hard to avoid the obvious questions - the one^s you know that the interviewee has been asked a thousand times before. It^s especially hard as Andy Fordham is currently on the promotional trail and is no doubt being asked the same questions time and time again.
The reason for this, is that he is promoting his autobiography entitled : ^The Viking^ which is available at his website :
He looks much better than I expected. He has a seriously damaged liver, which will probably require a transplant at some stage - the result of drinking up to 60 - yes 60 bottles of lager a day. As a result his weight eventually ballooned to over 30 stones, however he now weighs around half that. The face looks almost gaunt, whilst the body remains sturdy. However overall he looks pretty well.
A polite and courteous man, he answers those inevitable questions (I had to ask them) with a degree of honesty and good grace rarely found in those who possess a famous face. The drinking : ^People told me to stop but I didn^t want to listen^. The weight gain: ^You never notice you are getting bigger it just happens bit by bit^. The weight loss : ^I went on Celebrity Fit Club and I didn^t really want to know, but in the end I had no choice but to do it, I would have died otherwise^.
The turning point ironically came at Andy Fordham^s own personal field of dreams - The Lakeside Club, Frimley Green in Surrey. It was there he won the BDO World Championship in 2004, cementing his place not only as one of the most popular, but also one of the best dart players around. It led to lucrative exhibition work, television appearences and a pay per view showdown on Sky TV with darts doyen Phil ^The Power^ Taylor.
This was the first sign that all was not well. After the walk-on, Fordham appeared on stage already sweating profusely and seemingly out of breath. His 30 stone plus bulk was to eventually wilt under the heavy lighting and the game - still unfinished, was abandoned. With the audience wondering what was happening, Andy Fordham was en-route to hospital. However although it was a clear warning sign it was one which was not listened to and upon release he carried on as before.
For that Andy Fordham has no answers. He has a long-term and stable relationship with a loving wife, two great kids and was at the top of the darting tree but still sought comfort in alcohol. When asked, he does not know why. After a half-hearted appearence on Celebrity Fit Club, where he was given a platform to confront his health problems - with the likes of Paul Ross and Julie Goodyear - but chose not to give it his all, it took a further health-scare to stop Andy Fordham^s drinking.
Backstage at his beloved Lakeside in 2007 at the BDO World Championship, Fordham had to pull out of a first round clash against Australian darts star Simon Whitlock having complained of chest pains. Rushed to hospital again and this time drained of 18 litres of fluid from his lungs he was given a very stark warning by the medical team there, one which said : ^Stop drinking, lose weight, or die^. If the Lakeside had been the making of Andy Fordham the dart player in 2004, it was to be his salvation as a man in 2007 - the penny finally dropped.
The drinking finished and a healthier lifestyle saw him drop ten stones in a year and a further five stones within a year of that, ^I am literally half the man I used to be^, he smiles. The legacy of his drinking has given him a damaged liver, but a transplant - which was at first thought to be an inevitability has for now been postponed. With the Premier League of darts now set to play to a 12,000 sell-out crowd at the O2 Arena in January 2010, Andy Fordham - now a member of the PDC and playing competitive darts again, is looking to get back into the big-time, but he admits it will be tough.
^My throw has altered dramatically due to my weight loss and I am not the player I was, but it is coming together slowly, I want a piece of the action and I hope I can get it.^ he says. With professional darts now at a level of competitiveness that sees 100 plus three dart averages as the norm, it will indeed be difficult, however as one of the nicest blokes you could wish to meet, I for one hope he manages it and I am sure in feeling that way, I am not alone.