UK Open winner Andrew Gilding used to play in church band before darts stardom

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    UK Open champion Andrew Gilding has opened up on how playing in a church band stopped him being recluse and set him on a path to darting superstardom.

    'Goldfinger' stunned the darts world when he beat three-time world champion Michael Van Gerwen to claim his first major title at Butlins Minehead on Sunday.

    Journeyman Gilding, 52, seized his golden chance in a dramatic last-leg decider to down the iconic Dutchman on the big stage and win the prestigious £110,000 TV tournament.

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    The Ipswich-born thrower has had a unique and unlikely route to sporting prominence after rising through the ranks as a late bloomer on the oche.

    Gilding has remained on the darts scene – albeit as an outsider – ever since joining the BDO circuit in 2010. But the formerly withdrawn thrower may not have found competitive darts had he not got involved in gospel music in his thirties.

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    “I had a couple of factory jobs, in the early-mid 90s," he told Oche180. "It was like an abattoir, but not the killing part, it was in the butchery part, jointing up pork and I worked in a chicken factory as well. So always jobs where it was cold.

    “I was then unemployed for a while and I actually became quite reclusive in my early 30s. I had some mental health problems and I started to spend all my time indoors.

    "I started getting out when I played guitar for a church band and from there I joined a local pub darts team and Ashing Queen’s Head.

    “I started going to a few local tournaments, found a local businessman, who was my first sponsor, so thanks to them. I started getting in bigger tournaments, a few BDO tournaments and went on from there.”

    Gilding is now planning on using his UK Open winnings to upgrade the one-bedroom council flat that he has lived for the last 30 years. He added: “I don’t really want to be a superstar, just being able to earn a living doing something you don’t hate is great.

    “That’s the dream. I am living the dream. You work hard because you want to, not because you have to. What more can you ask for than that?"


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