By Ciaran McCauley
Former world champion Andy Fordham made an extraordinary return to darts last weekend just six months after being threatened with a liver transplant. Fordham lost out in the second round of the World Masters last Friday but it was the Charlton-born darts-man’s first competitive match in a year: an amazing turn around for a man who has suffered a succession of health problems culminating in diagnosis of liver cirrhosis just six months ago.
Talking exclusively to The Platform, Fordham – who has gone from a dangerous 31 stone to a comparatively svelte 15 in two years – spoke of his relief at making a successful return to the sport
“Last year I made a comeback to the same tournament [World Masters] but, to tell the truth, I didn’t want to be there,” said the 46-year-old. “The first morning I just wanted to get the train home. But this year I enjoyed it.”
Fordham, known as The Viking due to his enormous size and shaggy hair, won his first round game against Antonio Vargas before succumbing to Franz Thaler. But he admitted he was happy just to notch a win.
“He’s [Vargas] is not a bad player, though he isn’t the top level,” said Fordham. “But to get a win under my belt was great.”
He added: “I must admit I was disappointed in the next round. I went a set behind and then drew level – and I thought I was going to beat him [Thaler]. But it does show that there’s some fire left in the belly.”
Twenty-four bottles of Holsten Pils
The pub-landlord, whose pre-match ritual reportedly comprised of 24 bottles of Holsten Pils and six steak and kidney pies, stopped drinking two years ago after being taken seriously ill. Now, he admits, he is ‘half the man’ he used to be.
With a new lease of life, Fordham is now looking forward to regular returns to the oche – although he admits finding his former form has been a struggle.
“I’m slightly getting there. With my new body shape it’s been like starting all over again with my balance – but I feel like it’s getting better,” he said.
Despite making his impressive recovery Fordham is aware he has some way to go before getting the all clear and recognizes his health will determine the focus he can invest in playing darts: “I go back to the doctor on Monday and we’ll see what he says. The next six months are vital – I have to stay healthy. But if the doctor says OK then I can take it from there, starting with the Dutch Open in January.”
He continued: “Truthfully I have no idea how it’s going to go, I’ll take everyday as it comes and see how my condition develops.”
As for a sensational return to championship winning form, Fordham remains pragmatic.
“I don’t know about getting back to the top but it’s nice to get back on stage once more,” said The Viking. “I’ve been very very lucky and I’ve had great support from people so to get back on top would be nice not just for me but for all the people that supported me as well.”