Willie Thorne

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Willie Thorne
Born (1954-03-04) 4 March 1954 (age 62)
Leicester, England
Sport country  England
Nickname Mr Maximum,
The Great W.T.
Professional 1975–2002
Highest ranking 7 (1986/87,1993/94)
Highest break 147 (1987 UK Championship)
Century breaks 136[1]
Tournament wins
Ranking 1
Non-ranking 6

William Joseph "Willie" Thorne (born 4 March 1954) is an English former professional snooker player who is now a sports commentator. He is most famous for winning the 1985 Classic.


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.[2] In one infamous 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.[3][4] Also, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2004, Thorne admitted to placing bets worth up to £20,000 on a horse.[4]

Thorne's bald head makes him instantly recognisable and he is often referred to as the "Homer Simpson of Snooker".[5] He has become a popular senior character in the game, commentating on snooker for television on the BBC and Sky Sports as well as BBC Wales for the Welsh Open. Alongside other Matchroom professionals, Thorne featured in the popular song "Snooker Loopy", written and performed by Chas & Dave. In the verse which begins "but old Willie Thorne, his hair's all gorn", 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".

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.. He was only the third player to achieve this accomplishment, ahead of many of the world champions of his era, leading many to believe he was a underachiever in the game.

Thorne also won the World Seniors Masters in 2000, beating Cliff Thorburn in the final.

Tournament wins[edit]

Ranking wins: (1)[edit]

Non-Ranking wins: (6)[edit]

  • Pontins Professional- 1984
  • Hong Kong Masters- 1986
  • Matchroom Professional- 1986
  • Kent Cup- 1987
  • New Zealand Masters- 1989
  • World Seniors Masters- 2000

Personal life[edit]

He currently lives in Broughton Astley, Leicestershire, England and is married to former Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby. He has three children with his first wife Fiona.

He ran a club in Leicester for many years, where Mark Selby used often to compete in junior tournaments as a youngster.

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).

Thorne is known for his friendship with retired professional footballer Gary Lineker.[6] Their friendship was the subject of the Home Video, "Best Of Friends – The Official Story Of Gary Lineker & Willie Thorne"[7]


  1. ^ "Centuries". Pro Snooker Blog. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Watkins, Janie (2005). "Player Profile: Willie Thorne". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 16 March 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  3. ^ Fowler, Dave (February 2006). "Big Willie Style". Inside Poker. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Harper, Nick (23 April 2004). "Willie Thorne". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  5. ^ "Media Monkey September 10–14, 2007". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  6. ^ http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/ill-never-forgive-willie-thorne-1642763
  7. ^ Video on YouTube

Further reading[edit]

  • Thorne, Willie; Marsden, Derek (2004). Double or Quits: The Willie Thorne Story. Liverpool: bigbluetube. ISBN 0-9545841-1-2. 

External links[edit]