4 March 1954 |
The Great W.T.
|Highest ranking||7 (1986/87)|
|Highest break||147 (1987 UK Championship)|
Thorne became national under-16 champion at snooker in 1970. He never really converted this early promise into professional success, only ever winning one ranking snooker tournament (the Classic in 1985). The same year, he reached the UK Championship final against the then dominant Steve Davis, and seemed to have built himself an unassailable 13–8 lead. But a miss on a straightforward blue off its spot during the first frame of the final session allowed Davis to take the frame and eventually win the title. Thorne later said that he had hardly looked at the blue, considering it a certainty. He reached the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship in 1982 and 1986.
He peaked at no. 7 in the rankings in the mid-1980s, while also battling a serious gambling problem. In one famous incident, Thorne bet £38,000 on a match involving John Parrott, betting that Parrott would lose as Parrott had lost his personal cue and had to use one supplied by the venue. Much to Thorne's dismay (not least because he was actually commentating on the match), Parrott recovered from a slow start to win, only worsening Thorne's debts. Also, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2004, Thorne admitted to placing bets worth up to £20,000 on a horse.
Thorne's bald head makes him instantly recognisable and he is often referred to as the "Homer Simpson of Snooker". He has become a popular senior character in the game, commentating on snooker for television on the BBC and Sky Sports. Alongside other Matchroom professionals, Thorne featured in the popular song "Snooker Loopy", written and performed by Chas & Dave. In the verse which begins "Willie Thorne, his hair's all gone", Willie's cameo line was "Perhaps I ought to chalk it", in reference to his gleaming head putting off his opponents. Willie also appeared in the "Romford Rap" video with the rest of the "Matchroom Mob".
He is often known as "Mr. Maximum" because he claims to have hit nearly two-hundred 147 breaks in practice, though only one in tournament play. Thorne provided a segment on break building for the BBC during the 1999 championships where he was shown on a practice table performing a 147 whilst advising on positioning. However the BBC immediately outlined that the footage was edited as Thorne had in fact missed a pot on the black early on.
Thorne has been described as a skilled break-builder and possibly the "missing link" between old-school percentage play and the current aggressive potting game. He took 19 seasons to record 100 competitive century breaks.
- Classic – 1985
And billiards under 16 national champion in 1970
He currently lives in Broughton Astley, Leicestershire, England and is married to former librarian in Stocksbridge Library and Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby. He has three children with his first wife Fiona.
- Watkins, Janie (2005). "Player Profile: Willie Thorne". Global Snooker Centre. Retrieved 2008-05-05.[dead link]
- Fowler, Dave (February 2006). "Big Willie Style". Inside Poker. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Harper, Nick (2004-04-23). "Willie Thorne". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- "Media Monkey September 10–14, 2007". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 2007-09-14. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Thorne, Willie; Marsden, Derek (2004). Double or Quits: The Willie Thorne Story. Liverpool: bigbluetube. ISBN 0-9545841-1-2.
- Willie Thorne at the Internet Movie Database
- Thorne's official web site
- Interview with Willie Thorne
- Thorne's in Cambridge, Snooker – Mastership – Come join in :)