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Thorne was one in all snooker’s hottest characters, however off the desk he was crippled by habit

Willie Thorne was one of the vital in style sporting characters of the 1980s, a cheery, fast-potting staple on our TV screens throughout snooker’s heyday.

But removed from the inexperienced baize and shiny lights, Thorne has died in a Spanish hospital. Aged 66, he succumbed on Wednesday to the litany of well being issues which have plagued him since March, when he was identified with leukaemia.

Those who adopted the sport’s golden age cherish a breezy reminiscence of Thorne, the distinctive determine beloved for his bald head and well-groomed moustache.

Snooker legend Willie Thorne, one of the vital in style sporting characters of 1980s, has died

The popular sporting character enjoys a bike ride while on holiday in Spain

The in style sporting character enjoys a motorbike journey whereas on vacation in Spain

His good humour transmitted itself from the desk as a participant after which by way of the microphone as one of many BBC’s shrewdest snooker commentators.

He featured in Chas & Dave’s hit music, Snooker Loopy. ‘But outdated Willie Thorne, his hair’s all gorn,’ they sang. To which he replied: ‘Perhaps I must chalk it.’

Tributes poured in on Wednesday, led by 1985 world champion Dennis Taylor, who mentioned: ‘We laughed around the globe collectively and loved some unbelievable instances. Sometimes he would stroll into the gamers’ room stuffed with perhaps six world champions and jokingly say, ‘Right, who was probably the most well-known particular person in right here till I arrived?’

Tributes have poured in for Thorne, who was admitted to hospital in Spain last week

Tributes have poured in for Thorne, who was admitted to hospital in Spain final week

‘He’d typically say lately when he met somebody, ‘Pleased to satisfy you, Willie Thorne, massive star within the 1980s.’ Or, ‘I was Mr Maximum, now I’m Mr Minimum.’

‘He in all probability ought to have gained extra. I used to practise with him and he needed to make maximums on a regular basis, not simply win the body.’

Thorne was one in all Leicester’s most celebrated sons, and developed a detailed friendship with one other of them, former England striker Gary Lineker. A helpful snooker participant himself, Lineker mentioned: ‘Willie was one in all life’s nice characters.

‘A marvellous snooker participant and a stunning man, who has potted his remaining black a lot too quickly. RIP.’

Lineker and Thorne were both from Leicester and played snooker together on many occasions

Lineker and Thorne had been each from Leicester and performed snooker collectively on many events

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker is 'deeply saddened' to hear of his friend's passing

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker is ‘deeply saddened’ to listen to of his good friend’s passing

Thorne, nationwide Under 16 champion two years after taking on the game, was a implausible break-builder, a precursor to the aggressive potting type of the subsequent era. Rising to a world rating of seventh, he compiled a century of 100 breaks in 19 seasons and a 147 within the 1987 UK Championship.

He was twice a World Championship quarter-finalist, however the Mercantile Credit Classic in 1985 was the one rating match he gained. He ought to have clinched the UK title the identical yr, however missed a straightforward blue off its spot when 13-Eight up in opposition to Steve Davis.

It scrambled his thoughts and he misplaced from a seemingly impregnable place.

It was, nevertheless, away from the desk that he suffered his most heart-breaking defeats, a corollary of a crippling playing habit. Thorne had emerged on to the TV scene from the snooker corridor tradition of the time, when card video games within the nook had been rife and betting de rigueur. But his playing grew to become a significant issue when he retired in 2002 and was much less capable of fund the behavior.

His autobiography, Taking a Punt on My Life, informed how his money owed led him to attempt to take his personal life just a few days after his 48th birthday with an overdose of sleeping drugs.

Thorne (pictured at the World Championships in 1988) won one ranking title in 1982

Thorne (pictured on the World Championships in 1988) gained one rating title in 1982

He was found by his son, then 11, and handled in hospital. He stuffed money into an envelope, with the phrases: ‘It’s all I’ve bought, please take care of my mum.’

Later he mirrored: ‘It was a horrible factor to do. I used to be taking the straightforward manner out and leaving her (his spouse, ex-Miss Great Britain Jill Saxby) to mop up the mess.’

Gambling continued to hang-out Willie and Jill, whom he married in 2004 after 9 years collectively. In 2010, he suffered the primary of two strokes in the midst of a speech at a charity occasion, introduced on, he believed, by the stress of his habit.

Matters deteriorated when his mom, Nancy, died in 2013. He fell again into playing in a giant manner — typically betting £20,000 on a single race.

There got here a later wave of wider cultural fame when he joined the fifth season of Strictly Come Dancing, waltzing away with skilled dancer Erin Boag. They completed 12th of the 14 {couples}, however this publicity to public acclaim in 2007 acted solely briefly as balm on his troubled thoughts.

His money owed spiralled. He requested snooker buddies resembling Taylor and John Virgo, in addition to Lineker, to lend him funds.

Creditors as soon as got here to his door demanding he hand over £300,000 in money. Otherwise the thugs would reduce off Jill’s fingers, in order that they threatened, to get to her diamond rings. In all, he owed a minimum of £1m borrowed from 35 folks. He was declared bankrupt.

The much-loved Thorne speaking to the crowd at the 2010 World Seniors Championship

The much-loved Thorne talking to the group on the 2010 World Seniors Championship

He once more tried suicide, with one in all Jill’s kitchen knives hidden in a plastic bag. She noticed his automotive exterior a neighborhood resort and burst into his room simply in time.

The Thornes moved to Spain final yr to begin afresh — he took a job in Villamartin organising movie star golf tournaments. Paul Gascoigne and Bobby Davro visited.

But he was quickly playing once more. His four-bedroom home again in Leicester was repossessed. It was an excessive amount of for Jill, a speech therapist, and she or he left him. That was final October.

TV presenter Ben Shephard (far right) with Thorne (second right) at a charity golf day last year

TV presenter Ben Shephard (far proper) with Thorne (second proper) at a charity golf day final yr

Having fought prostate most cancers, leukaemia got here three months in the past. He underwent chemotherapy and knew that, as so typically earlier than, the percentages had been stacked in opposition to him.

On Sunday, Thorne suffered respiratory failure and was positioned in an induced coma and on a mechanical ventilator. His household had been with him as he died.

Jill, who bought again in contact as the tip neared, as soon as mentioned: ‘He was a sort, loving man, however there was this habit.

‘When we had been collectively, it was Our World. Then there was the opposite aspect. I’d name it Willie’s World.’ 

Thorne appeared on the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing with partner Erin Boag

Thorne appeared on the 2007 collection of Strictly Come Dancing with associate Erin Boag

Thorne was married to ex-Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby but they split after 24 years

Thorne was married to ex-Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby however they cut up after 24 years

Thorne, pictured playing snooker in 1976, reached two World Championship quarter-finals

Thorne, pictured taking part in snooker in 1976, reached two World Championship quarter-finals

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Vishal Singh
Vishal is The Flick's editor. His interests include product UX designing and search marketing. He can be followed on Twitter at @Vishal7Singh.

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