How snooker star Willie Thorne found the bottom of life's deepest pocket but climbed out again


Willie Thorne: Taking A Punt On My Life

Published by Vision Sports Publishing

What’s it about?

At the peak of his fame, former snooker star Willie Thorne led a life that presented him pretty much as a walking caricature. A leading player during snooker’s boom years in the 1980s, he did everything that the media wanted from the central characters of their new back page soap opera.

He worked hard at the table and partied hard away from it; he made good money from his skill with a cue and if it didn’t last him long there was plenty more where it had come from as sponsors and television executives queued up for a piece of the action. He revelled in his celebrity, indulged his hangers-on and when there was female attention to be enjoyed he was not inclined to resist.

And he gambled. A lot. Not only on snooker matches -- mostly his own, and always on himself to win -- but on card games and horse races and anything else that took his fancy. But this was not to conform to an image, even though it did fit nicely with the tabloid stereotype. This was an addiction, and one that would only deepen.

In Taking A Punt on My Life, Thorne tells the full, sorry story of this false existence, one which concealed the flaws and weaknesses that he came to realise had been there all along, and that explained not only his gambling but his failure to make the most of his talent, why so often the major prizes would slip through his grasp.

The gambling led to a bankruptcy from which he recovered but then to depression and -- 10 years ago next month -- a suicide attempt when the debts stacked up again.

Taking a Punt on My Life is a candid and harrowing tale but Thorne leads the reader on a journey into his soul. Interestingly, it is one he made without any counsellor showing him the way yet he understands what he learned about himself no less clearly for that. It is an absorbing, insightful read and, thankfully, one with a happy ending.

Who is the author?

Although the story is Willie Thorne’s and his name appears on the cover, Taking a Punt on My Life was written with the help of freelance writer Kevin Brennan, who has written about sport for more than 30 years. He has collaborated previously on books with boxing manager and promoter Frank Moloney and with former Charlton and West Ham manager Alan Curbishley, as well as Coronation Street actor William Roache.

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Five more snooker biographies you might like to try:

Ronnie: The Autobiography of Ronnie O'Sullivan
Let Me Tell You About Alex, by John Virgo
Frame of Mind, by Graeme Dott
The Hurricane: The Turbulent Life & Times of Alex Higgins, by Bill Borrows
Who Was Hurricane Higgins? by Tony Francis

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