Andy ‘The Viking’ Fordham, who has died aged 59, showed the world what he could achieve when facing a dart board.
However, while he was once on the cusp of greatness, the darts icon failed to convert his immense talent into a long list of trophies, as darts turned from the thing of smoke-filled working men’s clubs into a global brand.
The right-hander’s inability to translate his evident skill into success, was hampered by his issues with the bottle and food. These were relics of a bygone era as the PDC (Professional Darts Championship) juggernaut run by Barry Hearn who turned the sport into a slick television production with marketable stars.
His failure to take care of himself, whether at, or away from the oche proved to be his downfall. He ballooned to 31st and was told by a physician that only 25pc of his liver was functioning.
Fordham always maintained he was a sportsman, once quipping: ‘I think of myself as an athlete because I have been on Grandstand and I wear trainers.’Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Born in Charlton south-east London in 1962, ‘The Viking’ was a keen runner at his local school where he earned himself the nickname of ‘The Whippet.’ His pace on the track was equally as useful on the football pitch, and it was the round ball which sparked Fordham’s love affair with the arrows.
Andy 'The Viking' Fordham was crowned world champion in 2004 after defeating Mervyn King at the BDO World Championship
The Bristol-born darts icon (above) died on Thursday with his wife, Jenny, by his side
Fordham was a handy centre-forward playing for the Angerstein Hotel in Greenwich and stopped in the bar with team-mates after a training session. The group were asked by the hotel’s darts side for a spare player, after one team member failed to show. Fordham duly obliged.
‘The Whippet’ then became ‘The Viking’ and stormed onto TV screens at the Lakeside in 1995’s World Darts Championship, falling in the semi-final to eventual winner Richie Burnett.
Fordham wanted more success and came agonisingly close to a title on a further four occasions, suffering defeats in the semis to Steve Beaton in and a trio of back-to-back losses to Ronnie Baxter.
He was finally crowned champion in 2004 and many critics thought this was to be a springboard. What was to come, is what darts icon Wayne Mardle described as a ‘period in the wilderness.’ In reality, it was the beginning of the end.
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Pictured with wife Jenny in October 2020 - the last known photo of him before his death
Where most athletes develop a taste for women or fast cars, ‘The Viking’ was seduced by food and booze. Instead of a