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:
Deeply, deeply saddened to hear that my friend Willie Thorne has passed away. 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.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 17, 2020
I Hope you had a lovely time on the planet Willie and any regrets were overshadowed by the fun and games you had and the smiles you put on other people’s faces xxx
— Steve Davis (@SteveSnooker) June 17, 2020
Devestating news about Willie Thorne. We laughed our way around the world for 45 years.
RIP Great One. That was my name for him. The Great WT.
Lots of love to his family
— Dennis Taylor (@dennistaylor147) June 17, 2020
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 games greatest ever characters,I’ll miss him
— stephen hendry (@SHendry775) June 17, 2020
Rest in peace Willie #williethorne
— Shaun Murphy (@Magician147) June 17, 2020
Lost my friend today, hard to think I won’t see him again. Gutted. RIP Willie.
— John Virgo (@jvofficialjv) June 17, 2020
A very sad day for snooker today as we say goodbye to one of the great characters our game has seen,The Great WT passed away last night in Spain.
He was a joy to be around.
RIP @ Crucible Sheffield Snooker world… https://t.co/czSDl73nZs
— Ken Doherty Official (@kendoherty1997) June 17, 2020
Rest in peace Mr Maximum man x pic.twitter.com/hJi5MGkRq6
— Jimmy White MBE (@jimmywhite147) June 17, 2020
So sad to hear about the passing of Willie Thorne last night. One of the games great characters and will be missed greatly RIP
— Neil Robertson (@nr147) June 17, 2020
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 pic.twitter.com/fZoC18skqZ
— Ronnie O'Sullivan (@ronnieo147) June 17, 2020
Devastated to hear of the death of my good friend Willie Thorne who despite his well known problems was one of nicest guys I ever met, first met and played him in the boys Champs over 50 years ago. My thoughts prayers r with his family at this very sad time RIP WT
— Joe Johnson (@JoeJohnson86) June 17, 2020
Gutted to see the news about Wille Thorne, was only in feb seeing him and chatting to him in Cardiff at the welsh open, how quick life changes! Rip WT you’ll be sadly missed
— Kyren Wilson (@KyrenWilson) June 17, 2020
Really sad news of Willie Thorne passing away this morning,what a great player he was and what a commentator,such a shame the Gambling addiction got him and took a lot of proper good times away from him,talking about problems is always better than keeping it to yourselves RIP
— mark king (@markking147) June 17, 2020
Really sad about WT.
He had his demons but was one of those people who genuinely lit the room up when he entered.
He was also responsible for some the greatest one liners of all time.
He will be missed.
— Michael Holt (@hitmanholt) June 17, 2020
So sad to hear about the death of Willie Thorne. I loved watching his career, we made friends on Strictly Come Dancing where he was the loveliest ‘team mate’. pic.twitter.com/0Na5NXVywA
— Gabby Logan (@GabbyLogan) June 17, 2020
The Great WT was a larger than life character. Really sad news RIP willie.
— Ali Carter (@TheCaptain147) June 17, 2020
RIP Willie Thorne, 66.
Great snooker player & a wonderful character. Sad news. pic.twitter.com/bdMtOsDnSD
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 17, 2020
Really sad to hear about the death of Willie Thorne. He was a big part of the golden age of snooker on TV and full of fun away from table.
— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) June 17, 2020