Gilding: From church band to UK Open glory

By Phil Lanning

ANDREW GILDING has revealed playing guitar in a church band and joining a darts team stopped him from becoming a recluse. 

Just a few years later, ‘Goldfinger’ delivered one of the biggest shocks on the oche by beating Michael van Gerwen in Sunday’s UK Open final in Minehead. 

Gilding, 52, has opened up for the first time on an incredible rollercoaster journey to becoming a major champion which saw him previously work in an abattoir and becoming unemployed. 

That period of time plunged him into mental issues before the church band and going to the pub to play darts got him back on the right track. 

He told Oche180: “I had a couple of factory jobs, in the early-mid 90s. 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 admits it’s been a whirlwind few days after winning the £110,000 with the win over MVG. After answering thousands of texts he then has a plan to save for a new house. 

He added: “Since Monday I’ve done a lot of driving, then just answering texts. I have still got a few to answer, everyone has got in touch with me saying well done. 

“I have had one nasty one but that is one in a thousand messages of well done and congratulations.

“My favourite one was the nasty one, but that’s beside the point. I had all sorts, Gary Anderson has been singing my praises, which is amazing. Old friends that have lost touch with have been contacting me, it’s great.

“The nasty message? It was some random person on Twitter, they were just commenting on my teeth. I get that now and again, I find it funny, I don’t care what people say. You get the trolls on Twitter, you have got to expect that.

“Now I want to buy a house, that’s been the plan, I have been slowly saving up some money, the dream is to have my own place.

 I have never thought of moving outside of Suffolk, I suppose for darts it would be better to be in the middle of the country for travelling but I would rather be near my family.”

Now Gilding admits he will have to keep his feet on the ground ahead of returning to the ProTour in Barnsley next week. 

He said: “I can imagine there is going to be a lot of pressure in Barnsley next week for the floor tournament. 

“Everyone is going to come up and say well done and I will try and keep my head shrunk. I expect to lose because I will be maybe over-confident. I will try not to be but we’ll see.”