Why Freddy Flintoff put his drinking days behind him

Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff  Photo: Getty Images

His public image as a boisterous, beer swilling one of the lads was sealed in the public mind with his exuberant Ashes victory celebrations and a visit to No 10 that saw him put his feet up on the Cabinet table.

But Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff has revealed his more thoughtful, private side in a revealing appearance on Desert Island Discs, in which he talks about his struggle with depression, his decision to quit drinking and his devotion to family life.

The former England cricket captain and now star of TV panel shows such as A League of their Own, told Kirsty Young, the programme’s presenter, that he turned his back on the all-night drinking bouts for which he became famous after making a documentary about depression in sport, in 2012.

He said: “I’m prone to depression. Drinking doesn’t help one bit. I don’t touch it now.”


Rachael Wools and Andrew Flintoff

Flintoff said he realised his drinking had started to become a problem after a run of poor form and defeats that saw him sacked as England vice-captain in 2007 then getting drunk and into difficulties after taking a pedal boat out to sea after a World Cup defeat in St Lucia.

“It’s not so much the drinking as the reason why you’re drinking that is the problem. When you’re drinking because you’re trying to get away from things you’ve got to look at it. That’s not right,” he said. “My heart goes out to anyone out there who is struggling now.”

Speaking of his upbringing in Lancashire Flintoff, who chose Elvis Presley’s I Just Can’t Help Believing and Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon among his desert island records, said he never played cricket at his state school in Preston, but learnt it from his father, a British Aerospace production line worker.


Andrew Flintoff holds the Ashes trophy after England defeated Australia on the fourth day of the fifth and final Ashes cricket Test match

“Cricket was seen as the posh sport,” he said, adding that he would never have dreamt of walking back home through his local council estates in his cricket whites.

Now Flintoff says his greatest joy is being at home with his wife and their three children – even if they ignore him when he’s trying to teach them cricket.

 

Roxanne

I was watching Roxanne last night, something easy to watch and there was a bit where CD’s sister Dixie says a riddle to him ‘what can you sit on, sleep on and brush your teeth with?’ and he debates a bit then she says, ‘well a chair, a bed and a toothbrush’….the upshot being that sometimes the answers you seek are as plain as the nose on your face…well of course!

 

It seems to me that we could perhaps in terms of alcohol abuse see a similar link. Like, why did I buy that bottle, why did I drink it and why do I regret it…because we have a dependency on a the drug alcohol and we cannot stop once we start.

 

As plain as the nose… there is no escaping it, no denying it, no way to get round it. If you have a problem with getting drunk despite your best efforts, you need to stop and stay stopped. This is what I revisit in my own head whenever the craving strikes (and the craving never completely goes).

 

At the weekend I was in the hotel bar, cosy little place with wood panels and swish bottles of wine right across the bar, lots of nice people having friendly chats, smell of delicious food from the restaurant, my red wine sat there at eye level, and I felt the craving very badly. But I made myself remember the truth as plain as the nose on my face. I am no saint, I am not clever, and I do not have all the answers. I am still a work in progress. I am a pain in the butt a lot of the time. But the answer to my cravings is as plain as. Wishing you strength and determination.