Andy Fordham obituary: Gentle giant was a titan of the sport and will be sorely missed by rivals and fans

ANDY FORDHAM went into sporting folklore for being a darts world champion and downing 24 bottles of lager a day.

But he was the huge character that everyone raised a glass to in all walks of life.

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Fordham delivered his finest hour by beating Mervyn King to win the Lakeside World Championship in 2004.

But his cult status fare outgrew his ability with a set of darts. He was a gentle giant of a man, loved by his rivals and fans.

His walk-on tune was I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred but for so long he was the nearly man of the oche with four semi-final defeats until he finally got his hands of the famous old trophy.

After winning the 2004 final, Fordham faced off with Phil Taylor in a match billed as The Showdown and shown on Sky Box Office but the former was taken unwell during the match, being defaulted at 5-2, with health concerns raised after it was revealed that he regularly consumed 24 bottles of lager before he went on stage.

The docs advice led Fordham to seek help and assistance with TV programme Celebrity Fit Club, where he became friends with the journalist and TV presenter Paul Ross.

He made two final appearances at the Lakeside in 2005 and 2006 before health issues saw him not able to take to the stage for the final time he qualified back in 2007 to face his 2006 opponent, Simon Whitlock.

Time away from the oche followed with Fordham returning in low key tournaments before mounting a charge to attempt to qualify for the 2008 World Championship but he lost out in the Last 128.

It was no surprise that he was beset by health problems throughout his career. In January 2007, he collapsed while preparing for the opening match of the BDO Worlds.

He was rushed to hospital after suffering with severe chest pains and breathing issues, and had a minor stroke.

Fordham's final professional appearance came in 2018 at the World Masters. He was hospitalised in March 2020 with a bowel problem, leading to him having 16 litres of fluid drained from his body.

Then after being told he might need life-saving bowel surgery last March, Fordham told SunSport he would "keep fighting until I can't fight anymore".

He was set to be present at the new World Seniors Championship early next year and despite all his issues, still remained a massive favourite in the sport.

Off the oche he was a Glasgow Rangers fanatic and pal of Ibrox legends including Andy Goram.

He was a giant of the sport in every respect and will be sorely missed.

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