Interview

Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14

Sailing to a Maximum Break with Willie Thorne However it’s not all to Willie’s taste, “You’ve got to mix it up a bit with the best of three, or best of five frames, or having no interval – but I’m not keen on the dress code. I prefer them to wear a bow or neck tie. I don’t like the open necks.” It’s all a far cry from the sport’s heyday of the 1970s and ‘80s. These were the dapper days of Willie’s snooker idols, John Spencer and Ray Reardon – and when his toughest opponent, Steve Davis, was at the height of his game. Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan are also held in high regard by ‘the Great WT’: he rates O’Sullivan I’ve played them all. When they all were at their very best, O’Sullivan would win. as the most exciting player he’s ever seen. “I’ve played them all. When they all were at their very best, O’Sullivan would win. If he wasn’t, then Davis would win. Davis can do it both ways whereas Hendry and O’Sullivan can only do it when they are cueing well.” Willie is a fan of other sports too, especially a round of golf and he was a decent cricketer, playing at county-colt level for Leicestershire. However it’s football that has been a big passion for him, SPORTS STARS In May snooker legend and commentator, Willie Thorne, will be joining Braemar as part of the enhanced entertainment with a sports stars theme on this Canaries cruise. Willie was a professional snooker player for 27 years. He spent much of that time ranked in the top 16 in the world, achieving 14 tournament victories. Willie’s love of the game started in his youth, when his brother was given a snooker table. He found he had a natural talent and became very good, very quickly. When his dad was made redundant as a coal miner and took a job as a steward in the local Conservative club, Willie took advantage of the opportunity to practice on a full size table, honing his skills on the baize. Dedication and hard work were rewarded, with Willie becoming the national under-16 champion at both snooker and English billiards. He soon deservedly gained the nicknames ‘The Great WT’ and ‘Mr Maximum’. With an amazing 198, maximum 147 breaks in his career, I asked Willie how satisfying it is to achieve the highest score in a frame of snooker – and so many times? “It’s amazing really because a lot of players haven’t even had one. I haven’t played for years now so I couldn’t even make 47 let alone 147!” Since retiring from the game Willie has enjoyed a media career, primarily as a snooker commentator. Recently he’s seen a move to make snooker more modern and accessible to a younger audience. by GEORGY JAMIESON Feature: Georgy Jamieson @ByGeorgePR1 12 www.fredolsencruises.com


Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14
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