Following the sad death of Willie Thorne this morning, many of his fellow players and friends have paid tribute. Thorne passed away at the age of 66 after a battle with illness.
WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “I had the pleasure of managing the Great WT 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.”
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson added: “Willie was an ever-colourful character on the scene when I first joined the tour as a player and during my time as an administrator. He was a huge personality within our sport who took his public-facing role very seriously and will be sorely missed by so many in snooker. My thoughts are with his family and close friends at this sad time.”
John Higgins recalls going to a Celtic v Rangers game with Willie in the 1990s. “I was meant to be picking Willie up,” said Higgins. “Just as I was leaving, he asked what kind of car I was driving. It was my first car, a 1.2 Nova. He said that the Great WT can’t be seen in that car. So he drove us to the match in his Mercedes. He said he would have needed a balaclava if we went in my car.
“Willie and players from that era were coming from a different generation and were big stars. The reality TV stars of today are what the snooker players from the 1980s must have been like. He obviously went on to do Strictly Come Dancing and other television programmes. In a way, he kept snooker relevant as he was one of the players who would be invited on to these things. He is obviously going to be a sad loss for the snooker world.”
Other to pay tribute include:
“So many wonderful memories flooding back today. He was fun to be around, charming, loved walking in with a new outfit on, loved being the centre of attention. No one, I repeat no one, enjoyed it more! He was born for it! Around 1990 he came into the players room with Hendry, Davis, White, Higgins and Taylor practising. Willie walked in and said “Right! who’s the second best player in here now that I’m here?” Fantastic break builder. Truly one of a kind. He was…The Great WT! RIP My Dear Friend.”
“We played each other in professional matches, did exhibitions together and commentated with each other many times. We had lots of fun between frames off mic with all kinds of funny stories. He was a larger than life character who had a real show-biz personality and was extremely personable in public. We’ll all miss him greatly. Fondest memories will always remain.”
…and on Twitter: