Willie Thorne, a friend and a gentleman

by Elliott West

Sometimes when you lose someone close to you it’s good to put your thoughts on paper.

I first became friends with WT in 2012 when I opened my Twitter account. We used to message each other and talk about various aspect of snooker. He was always very courteous and made you feel that what you were talking about mattered.

After several years of talking, I decided to turn my hand to writing about snooker and found out from people reading my work that I seemed to have a natural talent.

Willie was one of those and without asking, posted various articles on his page. It was such a comfort to have someone of great stature in the sport, to recognise your ability and to encourage you in your efforts. Perhaps that chemistry that we found in each other, caused us to became closer friends.

I often have to pinch myself of who I know in the snooker world and Willie was one of those.

However when I first saw him in the player’s lounge in Cardiff, I shied away and couldn’t pluck up the courage to go and speak to him. Perhaps it was his stature or that bushy moustache that he sported but whatever the reason, my legs turned to jelly and I couldn’t approach him. This anxiety was ill founded because when I next met WT again at the Welsh Open, I went up to him and sat next to him. He tapped me on the shoulder, saying ” hello mate, nice to see you in the flesh”. From that point, the ice was broken and I felt very at ease.

In hindsight, this was probably the start of WT’s serious bout of illness. Recent events triggered this memory. Willie often wanted to go back to his hotel room early, saying that he was feeling tired and wanted to catch up on some television programme he had missed, usually his beloved Coronation Street.

Over the last few months, I have been in regular contact with Willie, calling him for a chat, several times a week but sadly these became less frequent as he became increasingly unwell. Despite this, WT always managed to ask about me and anything that had been going on in the world of snooker. He did this because he naturally cared for all his friends and was a very loving person. I always put him first in his last days and never disclosed anything about his illness without his permission. I take comfort in the fact he always said “tell everyone in your lovely way” and that he is no longer in pain. My friend was taken from this world too soon but will always be remembered.

WT had natural talent, whether it was with a cue or as a wordsmith. I will dearly miss him but treasure our many conversations and cherish the fact that I knew someone with a beautiful soul.