Lucky to still be alive, says champ

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ALAN Warriner is famous for his exploits in the darts world, but his family life is also full of drama and excitement.

Home life for Alan has not been easy. His mum and dad split up ten years ago, dividing the Warriner family.

Alan supported his dad, Arnold, throughout the split and unfortunately his relationship with his mother, Kath, broke down.

"I only see my mum occasionally now," says Alan.

"We'll say hello if we walk past each other in the street but that's about it."

Shortly after the split, Alan's dad started a relationship with Silvia Wilson. The pair had ten happy years together and lived in the Hala area.

Alan took Silvia to his heart and treated her like a mum. Alan and Silvia are still very close after his father's death and Silvia is one of his biggest fans.

"I know she still watches my career with a keen interest," says Alan.

"She is a really lovely woman."

Alan has two sisters, his older sister Linda and younger sister Debbie.

"I also had a brother called David who died when I was two or three years old.

"I was never told about him and only found out about his existence when I was 15 years old when I found some photographs of him.

"He got knocked over when he was six while we were living on Hawk Street."

Alan has been married twice. He met his first wife, Joanne, when he was 25 years old and they spent five happy years together.

He has been with his present wife, Kim Warriner, for 10 years.

"All my support comes from Silvia and her family, my wife and her family and two of our best friends, Russ and Pauline Hartly and their kids who live in Burton in Kendal.

"Russ and Pauline do a lot for me. They drive me to the airport when I go abroad for tournaments and are always there when I need them."

Alan has a laid back attitude towards life and credits that to a near death experience he suffered in 1990.

"I was driving to a darts tournament and at that time I travelled with a man called Paul Reynolds who had the same sponsor as me," says Alan.

"We had to go to Heathrow Airport because we were playing a tournament in Switzerland.

"I had just started playing darts at the time. We set off down the M1 at about 8am in the morning when suddenly a huge girder fell off a lorry and we hit it.

"The car flipped several times and five or six cars collided with us. I was trapped in the car for nearly four hours but all I suffered was minor scratches.

"To this day I wonder how I was not killed in that accident. It's true what they say. At times like that your life does flash before your eyes.

"Now I thank my lucky stars and I'm very grateful to be alive and happy."

Alan loves the razzmatazz of live darts on Sky.

He enters the arena to the sound of 'Ice Ice baby' by Vanilla Ice. The nickname 'The Ice Man' was given to him back in 1990 by his manager.

"He reckoned that when I stood on the oche my stance was cool, calm and collected so he started calling me 'The Ice Man'.

"I really liked it. Everyone had nicknames at the time like the Crafty Cockney or Dennis 'The Menace' Priestley."

Alan's popularity is not just confined to this country, as darts has established itself as a major sport in many countries around the world. It is particularly popular in Holland, China and Japan.

Alan and his fellow competitors are treated like a superstars in Holland. They get recognised in the street, are constantly asked for autographs and have a bigger celebrity status than Dutch international footballers like Ruud van Nistelrooy of Manchester United and Marc Overmars of Barcelona.

"Darts in these countries is like it was here in the 70s and 80s," says Alan.

"Phil Taylor had to have an armed escort the last time he visited China.

"He'll also need one if he ever decides to set foot in Lancaster I can tell you."

Despite his celebrity status Alan still loves playing on the local circuit and now there will two men reading this feature who'll be telling their mates "I beat that Alan Warriner."

Since hitting the big time, Alan has only been beaten twice on the local circuit. The man who first earned Alan's scalp was Jimmy Wilson (nicknamed Willow) who played for the Duke of Lancaster many years ago.

"I bet Jimmy is still talking about that game now," says Alan.

"It certainly sticks in my mind because it hasn't happened that often."

The second man to beat Alan only did so a week prior to this feature being written. Dave Tennant, who plays for Ruxtons in Lancaster, beat Alan last week in a packed out Horse and Farrier pub in the city.

"Everyone in the pub went crazy," says Alan. "It looks as if I really am the man that everyone wants to beat."

Alan reckons he would be nowhere near as successful as he is if he did not have the support of his many friends and family.

"I won my first world championship trophy at the Paddy Power tournament in 2001," said Alan.

"It was very emotional and has made me hungry for more success.

''Playing live games on Sky television gives me such a buzz but it can be absolutely nerve wracking. "There is also the added bonus that each tournament the PDC organises carries a 50,000 cash prize for the winner.

"Darts is without a doubt, a very popular game because of the association it has with drinking and socialising. Everyone in the country has probably played darts at some point in their lives.

"Darts has a huge following, especially from other sportsmen and sportswomen.

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"We often see boxers, golfers, snooker players and footballers at our matches. I know that boxer Ricky Hatton and snooker player Steve Davis are big fans.

"I think the sport is so popular because there is a personal touch.

"All of the players are very accessible and anyone can just wander up to us and have a chat. We are all very amiable."

As Alan has such a hectic schedule to keep, he is unable to play darts for Lancashire any more. He has been saddened by the fact that he feels some people who organise the Lancashire Darts Team have taken this the wrong way.

"I enjoy playing league darts because I'm playing with my mates," says Alan.

"When you play for Lancashire you have to go away for a weekend and you only play one game of darts.

"I had to pay for everything and I wasn't really enjoying it so I quit. As everyone knows I have to work, see my family and play in darts tournaments all over the world."

Alan's objectives are now very clear. He wants to win, win, win. "I love the game and love winning," says Alan.

"One thing is for sure I'm not going away anywhere so expect to see more from the Ice Man in the very near future."

l To find out more about Alan visit his personal website at www.theiceman.co.uk