Willie Thorne (1954 – 2020)
World Snooker this morning confirmed theat former snooker star and BBC commentator Willie Thorne has sadly died at the age of sixty-six. Thorne, was diagnosed with Leukaemia in March 2020, became ill whilst in Spain this week and was taken to hospital and placed in a coma due to dangerously low blood pressure.
Thorne reached two World Championship Quarter-Finals during his career and won the 1985 Mercantile Credit Classic. He twice reached number seven in the world rankings and spent twenty years in the top thrity-two of the snooker world rankings, before moving into a commentary career spanning more than thirty years with BBC, ITV and Sky TV.
Known as Mr Maximum, Thorne was the third player to reach the landmark of a hundred centuries and he also made a 147 break in the 1987 UK Snooker Championship. Thorne, was such a well liked figure in sport that a GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for his treatment. The fund passed £17,000 by Tuesday afternoon when it was disclosed he had been placed into an induced coma.
His carer, Julie O’Neill, wrote on Wednesday, “It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I have to officially announce that at 1.55am this morning Willie Thorne sadly lost his battle and passed away. Having gone into septic shock he was not responding to any treatment so the decision was made by the hospital staff to switch off the machines.
I was with him all the way to his end and reading out messages to him from people. He passed away very peacefully and without pain, listening to his children saying they love him. That gives me some comfort in this difficult time. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man.”
A number of sports stars wrote messages on social media including,
Dennis Taylor – The former World Champion who was a long-standing friend and colleague in the commentary box said, “We laughed our way around the world for forty five years, adding, “RIP Great One” the Great Willie Thorne lots of love to his family.”
Gary Lineker – Along term friend said, “I am deeply saddened by the news, he was one of life’s great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man, who’s potted his final black much too soon. RIP Willie.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan – “I Just want to say what a beautiful man, big heart, great company. Had a week in Ireland with him I’ll never forget. Will be missed by a lot of people in the Snooker world. RIP WT.”
Stephen Hendry said, “Very sad news today, Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker. I know he had faults and weaknesses (we all do) but he was one of the game’s greatest ever characters, I’ll miss him.”
Barry Hearn (World Snooker Chairman) said, “I had the pleasure of managing the Great Willie Thorne as part of the Matchroom team in the 1980s. He was a larger than life personality and he was a major part of the rebirth of snooker at that time. It’s so sad to hear he has passed away and our thoughts are with his family.”