Charlton darts legend Andy Fordham on the comeback trail in Greenwich

News Shopper: Charlton darts legend Andy Fordham on the comeback trail in Greenwich Charlton darts legend Andy Fordham on the comeback trail in Greenwich

HE is still one of the most recognisable and well-loved faces in the sport despite long absences for illness, and now Andy Fordham is ready to step up to the oche again.

The 51-year-old, who World Champion in 2004, has rejoined the BDO and believes he can reach the top of his game again.

By his own admission, the man known as The Viking used to drink “shedloads” and many of his health problems have been alcohol-related, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when our meeting was scheduled to take place at The Bugle Horn pub near to his home in Charlton.

And when I walked through the door, there he was – larger than life – gripping a beer in his paw.

But it was non-alcoholic. This is a new Andy Fordham.

He told me: “January 8, 2007, I had my last large brandy. I went on stage, live on TV, and got carted off in an ambulance. And that was it.”

After a brief return to darts in the PDC – Andy said it was the wrong time for him and knocked his confidence – he spent a long time laid up.

“I was ill, through nobody’s fault but my own,” he said.

“The worst thing that happened to me was the first time I played on TV I drank s******ds and it worked.”

During the stay in hospital in 2007, doctors drained 18 litres of fluid from his body which had been crushing his lungs.

He said: “They stuck a needle into my back to drain the fluid away. Believe me, it was a long needle but it wasn’t big enough to get in there.”

Since then, Andy has worked on his fitness – though he concedes he still needs to get fitter – and wants to get back to the game he first fell in love with as a youngster at the Angerstein Hotel in Greenwich.

He said: “I didn’t play darts for a few years and I didn’t miss it for a while, I must say. Now I feel like I’m missing it again and I want to get back out there.”

He added: “I’ve slowly started getting myself a bit fitter, I’m playing a few more tournaments and my confidence is building. I seriously think I could get into the Lakeside (World Championships) 2015.”

In order to do that, he said, he needs a sponsor to help his travel to regular tournaments.

One tournament he won’t need to travel far for is the Legends of Darts Masters at IndigO2 on January 25, which has been organised by his friend Wayne Dobinson.

The evening features big names such as The King of Bling Bobby George, Bob Anderson, Ted Hankey, Darryl Fitton and more.

Wayne organised it, in part a response to the Lee Rigby killing, with money going to Help for Heroes and Andy used his contacts in the game to help set it up.

Andy said: “It’ll be a great night. You’ve got ex-World Champions, a couple of characters in Bobby George and Bob Anderson, and to round it off there’s an ABBA tribute band.

“It’s a great venue, the biggest I’ve done for a while.

“It’s for Help for Heroes as well, especially with what went on down the road. It feels like something you should do. Not even that, it’s something you want to do.”

The Legends of Darts Masters is at IndigO2 on January 25. Go to theindigO2.co.uk, axs.com or call 0844 8244824

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