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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 10:48 GMT
Viking plunders darts crown
By Frank Keogh

Sumo wrestling aside, he ranks as one of the biggest world champions in sport.

FORDHAM'S FAVOURITES
Andy Fordham claimed the BDO title
Beer: Holsten Pils
Food: Chinese
Football: Glasgow Rangers, Millwall
Andy 'The Viking' Fordham, a Kent pub landlord, defied the odds to take the BDO darts title on Sunday.

Weighing in at an estimated 30 stone, he admits to taking Pils (lager) and could be accused of having a performance-enhancing belly as a result.

But the burly thrower, whose bulky forearms provided an early television highlight of 2004, boasts his own fitness trainer.

While Fordham walks along, his trainer Steve Walsh offers encouragement from a bicycle.

The fitness programme stood the 41-year-old publican in good stead as he conquered the world's best to claim the 50,000 first prize.

Fordham earned the Viking tag largely thanks to his large frame, fuzzy beard and a remarkably coiffured lengthy brown mullet hairstyle.

My trainers aren't for show - I'm an athlete
Andy Fordham

He may not be the archetypal sportsman, but he does at least wear trainers on stage.

The popular Londoner even claims to have been a track and field athlete in his youth, when he allegedly had the nickname 'Whippet.'

But darts called. He was recruited by a hotel team, went on to compete at county level and has since represented England at four World Cups.

His 6-3 triumph over Mervyn King in the 2004 world final sent his fans delirious at the Lakeside Country Club at Frimley Green, Surrey.

The helmet-clad Viking hordes did not quite go on the rampage, but sung blissfully about walking in a Fordham wonderland, whatever that may be.

Fordham, who had suffered four semi-final defeats in nine previous visits to the Lakeside, celebrated in his own unique style. A little glance to the left, eyes slightly glazed, an extra bead of sweat.

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"I had to conserve energy," he admitted afterwards.

King, who had been booed by some sections of the crowd after asking for the oche to be measured in his first-round match, was downbeat in defeat.

He miserably claimed to have performed like a "pub player" in the final.

King's conqueror, whose profession would indicate he is a regular pub player, cut a cuddlier figure.

"I am just a big friendly giant," said father-of-two Fordham. "What you see is what you get with me.

"At the moment I just want to go home and relax for a week."

Home for Andy and his wife Jenny, who previously ran a pub in south-east London, is now The Rose in Dartford.

A case of - ahem - doubles all round.





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