Willie Thorne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Willie Thorne
Born(1954-03-04)4 March 1954
Anstey, Leicestershire, England
Died17 June 2020(2020-06-17) (aged 66)
Torrevieja, Spain
Sport country England
NicknameMr Maximum[1]
The Great W.T.[2]
Professional1975–2001
Highest ranking7 (1986–87, 1993–94)
Career winnings£1,174,929[3][better source needed]
Highest break147: 1987 UK Championship
Century breaks126[4]
Tournament wins
Ranking1
Non-ranking6

William Joseph Thorne (4 March 1954 – 17 June 2020)[5] was an English professional snooker player. He won one ranking title, the 1985 Classic. He also reached the final of the 1985 UK Championship, losing 16–14 to Steve Davis after leading 13–8. He was noted for his break-building, and was among the first players to compile 100 century breaks. He earned the nickname "Mr Maximum."[6] After retiring as a player, Thorne became a snooker commentator, primarily for the BBC.

Career[edit]

Thorne was born on 4 March 1954, at the family home in Anstey, a village located near Leicester to Bill Thorne, a Desford Colliery miner, and his wife Nancy.[7][8] He had two brothers.[8] Thorne was educated at the Thomas Rawlins School in Quorn,[7] and played multiple sports but excelled the most in snooker.[8] He left school at age 15 and became an estimator for a glass factory while practising snooker in Loughborough and then Leicester's snooker halls.[8] Thorne became national under-16 snooker champion in 1970.[7] He turned professional in 1975,[9] but never really converted his early promise into success, only winning one ranking snooker tournament (The Classic in 1985).[9] The same year, he reached the 1985 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.[5] 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.[10] Thorne won the 1986 Hong Kong Masters by 8–3 over Dennis Taylor in the final with century breaks of 102 and 106,[11] and then defeated Davis 10–9 to claim the 1986 Matchroom Professional Championship.[12]

He peaked at no. 7 in the world rankings in the mid-1980s, while also battling a serious gambling problem.[13] Thorne began gambling when he frequented a billiard hall in central Leicester from the age of 16.[14] In one incident, Thorne bet £38,000 on a match involving John Parrott, betting that Parrott would lose as he 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.[15][16] In an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2004, Thorne admitted to placing bets of up to £20,000 on horses.[16]

Thorne's bald head made him instantly recognisable and he was often referred to as the "Homer Simpson of Snooker".[17] He first began commentating for the BBC during the 1980s, and he continued to work on the BBC's networked snooker coverage until he was dropped from the corporation's broadcast team after the 2017–18 season.[18] He also had stints commentating on snooker for Sky and ITV.[19] Thorne continued to commentate for BBC Wales on their coverage of the Welsh Open in February each year.[20]

Alongside other Matchroom professionals, Thorne featured in the popular song "Snooker Loopy", written and performed by Chas & Dave.[1] In the verse which begins "but old Willie Thorne, his hair's all gorn", Thorne's cameo line was "Perhaps I ought to chalk it", in reference to his gleaming head distracting his opponents. Thorne also appeared in the "Romford Rap" video with the rest of the "Matchroom Mob".[10]

Thorne was 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.[21] He was only the third player to achieve this feat and achieved a maximum break at the 1987 UK Championship.[19] Thorne claimed to have made almost 200 maximum breaks, and was known as "Mr Maximum."[8] Thorne won the World Seniors Masters in 2000, beating Cliff Thorburn in the final.[18]

After retiring from the game in 2001,[19] Thorne did not play for 16 years; however, he returned to action in 2017 in the World Seniors Championship, where he lost 1–3 in the first round to Aiden Owens. The World Seniors Tour was formed in the same year, but Thorne did not enter any events that season. He began his comeback in 2019 at the Seniors Irish Masters, where he faced Jimmy White in his first match in the quarter-finals, losing 0–3, and the World Seniors Championship, where he lost by the same scoreline in the first round to Darren Morgan. His next match, in the first round of the 2019 UK Seniors Championship, proved to be his last; drawn against Michael Judge, Thorne lost 2–3.[22]

Thorne also held the all-time record in the 'Pocket Money' round of BBC TV show Big Break.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Thorne was married to former Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby[24] and lived in Broughton Astley.[25] He was previously married to Fiona Walker, with whom he had twin sons and a daughter.[8] He ran a club in Leicester for many years, where Mark Selby used to compete in junior tournaments.[26][27] In 2004, Thorne and writer Derek Marsden co-authored his first autobiography Double or Quits.[28] His second autobiography, Taking A Punt On My Life, was published in 2011.[7]

Thorne competed in Series 5 of Strictly Come Dancing with professional dance partner Erin Boag, before being voted out on 20 October 2007 in 12th place (out of 14).[5][10] He was friends with the retired footballer Gary Lineker,[29] which was the subject of the VHS production, Best of Friends – The Official Story of Gary Lineker & Willie Thorne.[30] In 1985, Lineker was best man at Thorne's wedding.[31] Thorne was a lifelong fan of Leicester City.

Illness and death[edit]

In June 2015, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a psychiatrist ordered routine blood tests and told doctors about the diagnosis and Thorne began treatment.[32]

Thorne tweeted on 18 March 2020 that he had been diagnosed with leukaemia.[33] On 16 June 2020, he was placed in an induced coma after suffering respiratory failure in hospital in Spain.[34] On 17 June 2020, his carer reported that Thorne had gone into septic shock, was not responding to treatment, and died after his life support was withdrawn, aged 66.[35]

Performance and rankings timeline[edit]

Tournament 1974/
75
1975/
76
1976/
77
1977/
78
1978/
79
1979/
80
1980/
81
1981/
82
1982/
83
1983/
84
1984/
85
1985/
86
1986/
87
1987/
88
1988/
89
1989/
90
1990/
91
1991/
92
1992/
93
1993/
94
1994/
95
1995/
96
1996/
97
1997/
98
1998/
99
1999/
00
2000/
01
2001/
02
Ranking[36] [nb 1] [nb 2] UR 20 15 17 20 22 16 18 12 11 7 11 13 9 11 17 15 7 15 25 25 36 51 75 76 [nb 3]
Ranking tournaments
British Open[nb 4] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event 2R F 3R 3R 3R 1R 1R 2R 3R 2R 1R 1R 3R 1R LQ LQ LQ A
Grand Prix[nb 5] Tournament Not Held 2R SF 3R 1R 3R QF 1R 2R 3R 2R 2R 1R 1R 2R 1R 2R LQ 1R LQ A
European Open Tournament Not Held 3R 2R 3R 3R 1R 1R QF LQ LQ NH LQ Not Held A
UK Championship Not Held Non-Ranking Event QF F 3R SF 3R 3R 3R 3R 3R 1R 3R 2R 1R 1R LQ LQ LQ A
Welsh Open Tournament Not Held QF 3R 1R 2R 1R 2R LQ LQ LQ LQ A
China Open Tournament Not Held NR LQ LQ LQ A
Thailand Masters[nb 6] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event Not Held QF 3R SF QF 1R 2R 2R LQ LQ LQ LQ LQ A
Scottish Open[nb 7] Tournament Not Held NR 1R QF QF 3R 1R 2R 3R 3R Not Held 2R 2R 1R 1R 1R LQ 2R LQ LQ A
World Championship A LQ 1R 1R LQ 1R 1R QF 2R 2R 1R QF 1R 2R 2R 2R 1R 2R 2R 2R 2R 1R LQ LQ LQ LQ LQ LQ
Non-ranking tournaments
Champions Cup[nb 8] Tournament Not Held QF QF A A A A A A
Scottish Masters Tournament Not Held A A A A F A A NH A A A A SF A A A A A A A A
The Masters A A A A A A A A A A 1R QF QF 1R 1R QF 1R A 1R 1R WR A A LQ A LQ A A
Irish Masters[nb 9] A A A A A A A A A A A F F 1R A QF A A A 1R A A A A A A A A
Premier League[nb 10] Tournament Not Held A Not Held RR RR RR RR RR RR A A A A A A A A A A
Former ranking tournaments
Canadian Masters[nb 11] Non-Ranking Event Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking 1R Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Open[nb 12] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event NH 3R Tournament Not Held NR NR Tournament Not Held
Classic Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event LQ W 1R 1R 2R SF 1R 1R 2R Tournament Not Held
Strachan Open Tournament Not Held 1R MR NR Tournament Not Held
Dubai Classic[nb 13] Tournament Not Held NR A 2R 1R QF 2R 1R LQ 1R Tournament Not Held
German Open Tournament Not Held 1R LQ LQ Tournament Not Held
Malta Grand Prix Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event LQ NR NH
Former non-ranking tournaments
Padmore Super Crystalate Tournament Not Held SF Tournament Not Held
UK Championship Not Held QF QF 2R 2R 2R 1R 2R Ranking Event
British Open[nb 14] Tournament Not Held RR LQ LQ 2R 2R Ranking Event
Tolly Cobbold Classic Tournament Not Held A A A QF A QF Tournament Not Held
Thailand Masters Tournament Not Held A A A RR Not Held Ranking Event
Canadian Masters[nb 15] QF SF 1R 1R 2R A 2R Tournament Not Held A F A R Tournament Not Held
Tokyo Masters Tournament Not Held QF Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Masters Tournament Not Held A A SF W QF SF NH A A Tournament Not Held
Dubai Classic[nb 16] Tournament Not Held SF Ranking Event Tournament Not Held
Matchroom Professional Championship Tournament Not Held W F QF Tournament Not Held
Norwich Union Grand Prix Tournament Not Held RR A A Tournament Not Held
English Professional Championship Tournament Not Held SF Not Held 2R 2R SF QF QF Tournament Not Held
New Zealand Masters Tournament Not Held 1R A Not Held W Tournament Not Held
World Matchplay Tournament Not Held 1R 1R A A A Tournament Not Held
London Masters Tournament Not Held A SF A Tournament Not Held
Shoot-Out Tournament Not Held 2R Tournament Not Held
World Masters Tournament Not Held 3R Tournament Not Held
European Challenge Tournament Not Held A A QF Tournament Not Held
Pot Black A RR SF A A A A A RR SF QF A Tournament Not Held 1R 1R 1R Tournament Not Held
Australian Masters[nb 17] Tournament Not Held A A A A A QF QF A A NH R Tournament Not Held F A Tournament Not Held
Malta Grand Prix Tournament Not Held QF A 1R A A R A NH
Seniors Pot Black Tournament Not Held 1R Tournament Not Held
Pontins Professional A QF RR A A A F QF SF W SF F F A A A A A QF A A A QF QF A Not Held
Performance Table Legend
LQ lost in the qualifying draw #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QF lost in the quarter-finals
SF lost in the semi-finals F lost in the final W won the tournament
DNQ did not qualify for the tournament A did not participate in the tournament WD withdrew from the tournament
NH / Not Held means an event was not held.
NR / Non-Ranking Event means an event is/was no longer a ranking event.
R / Ranking Event means an event is/was a ranking event.
  1. ^ He was an amateur.
  2. ^ The ranking system did not begin until 1976.
  3. ^ He was not on the Main Tour.
  4. ^ The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
  5. ^ The event was also called the Professional Players Tournament (1982/83–1983/84) and the Grand Prix
  6. ^ The event was also called the Asian Open (1989/1990–1992/1993) and the Thailand Open (1994/1995–1997/1998)
  7. ^ The event was also called the International Open (1981/1982 to 1996/1997) and the Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986)
  8. ^ The event was also called the Charity Challenge (1994/1995–1998/1999)
  9. ^ The event was also called the Benson & Hedges Ireland Tournament (1974/1975–1976/1977)
  10. ^ The event was also called the Professional Snooker League (1983/1984), the Matchroom League (1986/1987–1991/1992) and the European League (1992/1993–1996/1997)
  11. ^ The event was also called the Canadian Open (1974/1975–1980/1981)
  12. ^ The event was also called the Australian Masters (1979/1980–1987/1988 & 1995/1996) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
  13. ^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989), Thailand Classic (1995/1996) and Asian Classic (1996/1997)
  14. ^ The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
  15. ^ The event was also called the Canadian Open (1974/1975–1980/1981)
  16. ^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989), Thailand Classic (1995/1996) and Asian Classic (1996/1997)
  17. ^ The event was also called the Hong Kong Open (1989/1990) and Australian Open (1994/1995)

Career finals[edit]

Ranking finals: 3 (1 title, 2 runners-up)[edit]

Legend
UK Championship (0–1)
Other (1–1)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Winner 1. 1985 The Classic Cliff Thorburn 13–8 [1]
Runner-up 1. 1985 UK Championship Steve Davis 14–16 [29]
Runner-up 2. 1986 British Open Steve Davis 7–12 [37]

Non-ranking finals: 15 (6 titles, 9 runners-up)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Runner-up 1. 1981 Pontins Professional Terry Griffiths 8–9 [38]
Winner 1. 1984 Pontins Professional John Spencer 9–7 [38]
Runner-up 2. 1985 Scottish Masters Cliff Thorburn 7–9 [37]
Runner-up 3. 1986 Irish Masters Jimmy White 5–9 [39]
Runner-up 4. 1986 Pontins Professional (2) Terry Griffiths 6–9 [38]
Winner 2. 1986 Hong Kong Masters Dennis Taylor 8–3 [40]
Winner 3. 1986 Matchroom Professional Championship Steve Davis 10–9 [37]
Runner-up 5. 1986 Canadian Masters Steve Davis 3–9 [37]
Winner 4. 1987 Kent Cup Jimmy White 5–2 [41]
Runner-up 6. 1987 Irish Masters (2) Steve Davis 1–9 [39]
Runner-up 7. 1987 Pontins Professional (3) Neal Foulds 8–9 [38]
Runner-up 8. 1987 Matchroom Professional Championship Dennis Taylor 3–10 [42]
Winner 5. 1989 New Zealand Masters Joe Johnson 7–4 [43]
Runner-up 9. 1994 Australian Open John Higgins 5–9 [37]
Winner 6. 2000 World Seniors Masters Cliff Thorburn 1–0 [18]

Pro-am finals: 1 (1 title)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Winner 1. 1980 Pontins Spring Open Cliff Wilson 7–3 [38]

Team finals: 1 (1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Team/partner Opponent(s) in the final Score Ref.
Runner-up 1. 1984 World Doubles Championship Cliff Thorburn Alex Higgins
Jimmy White
2–10 [44]

Amateur finals: 1 (1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Runner-up 1. 1975 English Amateur Championship Sid Hood 6–11 [45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Keogh, Frank (17 June 2020). "Willie Thorne: From Mr Maximum to Snooker Loopy – remembering one of the game's great characters". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Willie Thorne". Performing Artistes. 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Career Total Statistics For Willie Thorne – Professional Results". CueTracker – Snooker Database. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Centuries". Pro Snooker Blog. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Then, now: Willie Thorne". Eurosport. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  6. ^ Bower, Aaron (17 June 2020). "Willie Thorne, former snooker player, dies aged 66 after illness". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d "Willie Thorne, popular snooker player in the vanguard of the sport's 1980s boom – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Rawling, John (17 June 2020). "Willie Thorne obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Willie Thorne". wst.tv. World Snooker. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Staniforth, Mark (1 May 2020). "Crucible characters day 15: Willie Thorne". Yahoo Sports. Press Association. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Sport in Brief: Thorne's title". The Times. 9 September 1986. Retrieved 17 June 2020 – via Gale Academic OneFile.
  12. ^ "Snooker: Davis toppled by Thorne". The Times. 22 September 1986. Retrieved 17 June 2020 – via Gale Academic OneFile.
  13. ^ Watkins, Janie (2005). "Player Profile: Willie Thorne". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 16 March 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  14. ^ Philip, Robert (5 April 2004). "Gambling addiction drove Thorne to the brink". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  15. ^ Fowler, Dave (February 2006). "Big Willie Style". Inside Edge. Dennis Publishing. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008.
  16. ^ a b Harper, Nick (23 April 2004). "Willie Thorne". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  17. ^ "Media Monkey September 10–14, 2007". The Guardian. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  18. ^ a b c Mack, Tom (17 June 2020). "The ups and downs of Willie Thorne – from teenage prodigy to Strictly Come Dancing star". Leicester Mercury. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  19. ^ a b c "Willie Thorne: Snooker favourite dies aged 66". BBC Sport. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  20. ^ "Welsh Open 2015 live on BBC Wales & Eurosport". sport-onthebox.com. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  21. ^ McCormack, Richie (18 March 2020). "Willie Thorne admits to leukaemia battle". Today FM. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  22. ^ "Willie Thorne". Snooker.org. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  23. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0L2FX89VbM
  24. ^ Line, Harriet (18 May 2015). "Wife rescued Willie Thorne from suicide". The Times. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  25. ^ Ashe, Isaac (4 July 2015). "Snooker star reveals cancer diagnosis". Hinckley Times. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  26. ^ The Player (30 June 2011). The Player Bookazine 18. The Player. p. 86. GGKEY:CHQWRF6U2GB.
  27. ^ Weaver, Paul (6 May 2014). "Mark Selby says snooker world title win fulfils promise made to late father". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  28. ^ Clarke, Gary (2008). A Billiards and Snooker Compendium. Paragon Publishing. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-899820-46-7. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  29. ^ a b Pye, Steven (3 December 2015). "The cruelty of snooker: Willie Thorne, Gary Lineker and 'unmissable' blues". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  30. ^ "Pirlo perfection, plus the Official Story of Gary Lineker and Willie Thorne". The Guardian. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  31. ^ Rawling, John. "Willie Thorne obituary". The Guardian. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  32. ^ Denham, Jess (7 June 2015). "Snooker legend Willie Thorne undergoing prostate cancer treatment". The Independent. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Willie Thorne to undergo chemotherapy treatment for leukaemia". BBC Sport. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  34. ^ "Willie Thorne: Former snooker star placed into induced coma in Spain". BBC Sport. 16 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  35. ^ Ouzia, Malik (17 June 2020). "Willie Thorne dead: Snooker legend passes away, aged 66". Evening Standard. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  36. ^ "Ranking History". Snooker.org. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  37. ^ a b c d e Hayton, Eric (2004). Cuesport Book of Professional Snooker (First ed.). Rose Villa Publications. pp. 152–166. ISBN 978-0-9548549-0-4.
  38. ^ a b c d e Turner, Chris (28 February 2012). "Pontins Open – Pontins Professional – Pontins World Pro-Am Series". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 28 February 2012.
  39. ^ a b "Irish Masters". Snooker Scene. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  40. ^ Hale, Janice (1987). Rothmans Snooker Yearbook 1987–88. Aylesbury: Queen Anne Press. p. 202. ISBN 0356146901.
  41. ^ Morrison, Ian (1989). The Official 1990 Matchroom Special. London: Hamyln. p. 57. ISBN 0600566005.
  42. ^ "1987 Matchroom Professional Championship Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  43. ^ "1989 New Zealand Masters Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  44. ^ Turner, Chris. "World Doubles Championship". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  45. ^ "100 Winners of the English Amateur Championship". easb.co.uk. English Association of Snooker and Billiards. 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Thorne, Willie; Marsden, Derek (2004). Double or Quits: The Willie Thorne Story. Liverpool: bigbluetube. ISBN 978-0-9545841-1-5.

External links[edit]