Willie Thorne is confirmed dead at the age of 66.
Willie was best known as a English snooker player and commentator.
Death was likely due to leukaemia.
Willie Thorne
Born(1954-03-04)4 March 1954
Leicester, England
Died17 June 2020(2020-06-17) (aged 66)
Torrevieja, Spain
Sport country England
NicknameMr Maximum
The Great W.T.
Professional1975–2001
Highest ranking7 (1986–87, 1993–94)
Career winnings£1,174,929[1]
Highest break147: 1987 UK Championship
Century breaks126[2]
Tournament wins
Ranking1
Non-ranking6
William Joseph Thorne (4 March 1954 – 17 June 2020) was an English professional snooker player. He won the 1985 Classic, his only ranking title. He lost 16–14 to Steve Davis in the final of the 1985 UK Championship after leading 13–8. After retiring as a player he became a snooker commentator.
Contents
1 Career
2 Personal life
2.1 Death
3 Performance and rankings timeline
4 Career finals
4.1 Ranking finals: 3 (1 title, 2 runner-ups)
4.2 Non-ranking finals: 15 (6 titles, 9 runner-ups)
4.3 Pro-am finals: 1 (1 title)
4.4 Team finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
4.5 Amateur finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
5 References
6 Further reading
7 External links
Career
Thorne became national under-16 champion at snooker in 1970. He turned professional in 1975 but never really converted his early promise into professional success, only ever winning one ranking snooker tournament (The Classic in 1985). 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. 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 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 of up to £20,000 on a horse.
Thorne's bald head made him instantly recognisable and he was often referred to as the "Homer Simpson of Snooker".
Thorne first began commentating on snooker for the BBC during the 1980s, and he continued to work on the BBC's networked snooker coverage until the end of the 2017/18, when he was dropped, though his involvement had been reduced for the previous few years. Thorne also worked extensively on Sky Sports's snooker coverage from the 1990s until the sport was dropped by the channel in the mid-2010s. He also worked on ITV's coverage of the Liverpool Victoria Charity Challenge tournament in the mid-late 1990s. Thorne's only current commentary work is with BBC Wales on their coverage of the Welsh Open in February each year.
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", Thorne's cameo line was "Perhaps I ought to chalk it", in reference to his gleaming head putting off his opponents. Thorne also appeared in the "Romford Rap" video with the rest of the "Matchroom Mob".
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. 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 an underachiever in the game.
Thorne also won the World Seniors Masters in 2000, beating Cliff Thorburn in the final.
Personal life
Thorne was married to former Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby and lived in Broughton Astley.
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 was known for his friendship with retired professional footballer Gary Lineker. Their friendship was the subject of the Home Video, "Best Of Friends – The Official Story Of Gary Lineker & Willie Thorne".
Death
Thorne tweeted on 18 March 2020 that he had been diagnosed with leukaemia. On 16 June 2020, he was placed in an induced coma after suffering respiratory failure in hospital in Spain, and on 17 June 2020 his carer reported that Thorne had gone into septic shock, was not responding to treatment and "the machines were switched off".
Performance and rankings timeline
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
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
Ranking tournaments
British Open
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
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
Tournament Not Held
Non-Ranking Event
Not Held
QF
3R
SF
QF
1R
2R
2R
LQ
LQ
LQ
LQ
LQ
A
Scottish Open
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
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
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
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
Non-Ranking Event
Tournament Not Held
Non-Ranking
1R
Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Open
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
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
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
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
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
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.
^ He was an amateur.
^ The ranking system did not begin until 1976.
^ He was not on the Main Tour.
^ The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
^ The event was also called the Professional Players Tournament (1982/83–1983/84) and the Grand Prix
^ The event was also called the Asian Open (1989/1990–1992/1993) and the Thailand Open (1994/1995–1997/1998)
^ The event was also called the International Open (1981/1982 to 1996/1997) and the Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986)
^ The event was also called the Charity Challenge (1994/1995–1998/1999)
^ The event was also called the Benson & Hedges Ireland Tournament (1974/1975–1976/1977)
^ 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)
^ The event was also called the Canadian Open (1974/1975–1980/1981)
^ The event was also called the Australian Masters (1979/1980–1987/1988 & 1995/1996) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989), Thailand Classic (1995/1996) and Asian Classic (1996/1997)
^ The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
^ The event was also called the Canadian Open (1974/1975–1980/1981)
^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989), Thailand Classic (1995/1996) and Asian Classic (1996/1997)
^ The event was also called the Hong Kong Open (1989/1990) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
Career finals
Ranking finals: 3 (1 title, 2 runner-ups)
Legend
UK Championship (0–1)
Other (1–1)
Outcome
No.
Year
Championship
Opponent in the final
Score
Winner
1.
1985
The Classic
Cliff Thorburn
13–8
Runner-up
1.
1985
UK Championship
Steve Davis
14–16
Runner-up
2.
1986
British Open
Steve Davis
7–12
Non-ranking finals: 15 (6 titles, 9 runner-ups)
Outcome
No.
Year
Championship
Opponent in the final
Score
Runner-up
1.
1981
Pontins Professional
Terry Griffiths
8–9
Winner
1.
1984
Pontins Professional
John Spencer
9–7
Runner-up
2.
1985
Scottish Masters
Cliff Thorburn
7–9
Runner-up
3.
1986
Irish Masters
Jimmy White
5–9
Runner-up
4.
1986
Pontins Professional (2)
Terry Griffiths
6–9
Winner
2.
1986
Hong Kong Masters
Dennis Taylor
8–3
Winner
3.
1986
Matchroom Professional Championship
Steve Davis
10–9
Runner-up
5.
1986
Canadian Masters
Steve Davis
3–9
Winner
4.
1987
Kent Cup
Jimmy White
5–2
Runner-up
6.
1987
Irish Masters (2)
Steve Davis
1–9
Runner-up
7.
1987
Pontins Professional (3)
Neal Foulds
8–9
Runner-up
8.
1987
Matchroom Professional Championship
Dennis Taylor
3–10
Winner
5.
1989
New Zealand Masters
Joe Johnson
7–4
Runner-up
9.
1994
Australian Open
John Higgins
5–9
Winner
6.
2000
World Seniors Masters
Cliff Thorburn
1–0
Pro-am finals: 1 (1 title)
Outcome
No.
Year
Championship
Opponent in the final
Score
Winner
1.
1980
Pontins Spring Open
Cliff Wilson
7–3
Team finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
Outcome
No.
Year
Championship
Team/partner
Opponent(s) in the final
Score
Runner-up
1.
1984
World Doubles Championship
Cliff Thorburn
Alex Higgins Jimmy White
2–10
Amateur finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
Outcome
No.
Year
Championship
Opponent in the final
Score
Runner-up
1.
1975
English Amateur Championship
Sid Hood
6–11
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