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

Willie Thorne
Born (1954-03-04) 4 March 1954 (age 65)
Leicester, England
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


CareerEdit

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 (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 straight forward 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.[3] 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.[4][5] Also, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2004, Thorne admitted to placing bets worth up to £20,000 on a horse.[5]

Thorne's bald head makes him instantly recognisable and he is often referred to as the "Homer Simpson of Snooker".[6] 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", 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 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 an underachiever in the game.

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

Personal lifeEdit

Thorne is married to former Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby[7] and lives in Broughton Astley.[8]

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

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).[citation needed]

Thorne is known for his friendship with retired professional footballer Gary Lineker.[9] Their friendship was the subject of the Home Video, "Best Of Friends – The Official Story Of Gary Lineker & Willie Thorne".[10]

Performance and rankings timelineEdit

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[11] [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
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
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
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
English Professional Championship Tournament Not Held SF Not Held 2R 2R SF QF QF Tournament Not Held
World Matchplay Tournament Not Held 1R 1R A A A Tournament Not Held
Shoot-Out Tournament Not Held 2R 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
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 finalsEdit

Ranking finals: 3 (1 title, 2 runner-ups)Edit

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)Edit

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)Edit

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Winner 1. 1980 Pontins Spring Open   Cliff Wilson 7–3[12]

Team finals: 1 (1 runner-up)Edit

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)Edit

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

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Career Total Statistics For Willie Thorne - Professional Results". CueTracker - Snooker Database. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Centuries". Pro Snooker Blog. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  3. ^ Watkins, Janie (2005). "Player Profile: Willie Thorne". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 16 March 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  4. ^ Fowler, Dave (February 2006). "Big Willie Style". Inside Poker. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  5. ^ a b Harper, Nick (23 April 2004). "Willie Thorne". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  6. ^ "Media Monkey September 10–14, 2007". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  7. ^ Line, Harriet. "Wife rescued Willie Thorne from suicide".
  8. ^ Snooker star reveals cancer diagnosis - Hinckley Times Retrieved 2018-03-11.
  9. ^ Pye, Steven (3 December 2015). "The cruelty of snooker: Willie Thorne, Gary Lineker and the 'unmissable' blues" – via The Guardian.
  10. ^ Video on YouTube
  11. ^ "Ranking History". Snooker.org. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  12. ^ "pontins". 28 February 2012. Archived from the original on 28 February 2012.

Further readingEdit

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

External linksEdit