Tanned and Lipstick'd
Good final, I thought Ronnie would win it after his Quarter and Semi dominations, but he never fired yesterday. Credit to Selby, long overdue champion.
10:02 pm: O'Sullivan cuts a blue into the green pocket, but a cannon again denies him position, but he brilliantly cuts another red, then a blue, and gently bends round for another red. This is wonderful play and testicles, and now caught up with position, a chance to claw back a frame.
4-4 after the 1st session. Murphy was 3-0 ahead earlier.No love for this thread since the WC last year! It's Bingham vs Murphy in the final and Murphy takes the opening frame.
Tonight I'm mostly watching the 31st frame of the World Snooker final...
edit: They've stopped for a toilet break mid-frame - I've never seen that before
edit 2: Epic frame, 64 minutes!
It's a good line and a superb length!
Stuart BinghamFour little words - winner winner chicken dinner!
In 2010 I was at the Crucible for the World Championships & it was absolutely outstanding throughout. For this week, I turned down trips to Sheffield for the snooker, Barbados for the cricket (which I went to in 2009 & it was even better than the snooker) & Budapest for a stag do (never been there before). All so I could miss the snooker in exactly the same pub as I missed the end of the final in last year.Once again, the Crucible delivers a fantastic spectacle... and how many other sports does the winner get a standing ovation from the entire crowd? Brilliant
Snooker legend Willie Thorne going bankrupt after £1m gambling addiction sparked suicide attempt
BBC commentator saved from killing himself by wife Jill after he fled home with a knife
BBC commentator saved from killing himself by wife Jill after he fled home with a knife
Tearful: Snooker champion Willie Thorne has gone bankrupt
Snooker legend Willie Thorne is declaring himself bankrupt after a £1million gambling addiction led to him trying to end his life.
Unable to see a way out of his financial turmoil the BBC presenter grabbed a knife, left his home and drove to a hotel where he penned three heart-breaking letters to his family.
But he tells how his devoted wife Jill tracked him down and burst into the room before he could go through with the suicide bid.
Speaking about the ordeal, he admitted: “If it wasn’t for Jill I would not be here now.
“She saved my life. Now I am going to try and put it back together.”
Willie wiped away tears with his fists as he spoke – a broken man at odds with the jovial person who grinned his way through Strictly Come Dancing and whose commentary is adored by millions of snooker fans. Just last month he was helping front coverage of the World Championship for the BBC.
But off screen, the 61-year-old has been living a lie. Now, in an exclusive interview Willie – who declares himself bankrupt next week – has decided to reveal the truth.
He tells how he:
Sitting at home in Leicester, the pain of the last few months is clear to see.
- Has lost millions to bookies since retiring from snooker
- Was left owing cash to money-lenders – with one threatening to chop off his wife’s fingers
- Had two thugs turn up at his house demanding £300,000 in cash
- Cleared his house of all its contents – including his prized trophies – to keep them out of the clutches of bailiffs.
The showman is still there, but the eyes are red and distant. And his voice is breathless, worn out by the speed his mind is racing at.
Gambling, and the debts which come with it, have left him broken.
“People think because I’m Willie Thorne, the guy off the TV, I must have loads of money. Nothing could be further from the truth. The house I live in is mortgaged to the hilt and the cars are on lease.
“Yes we should have a nice house in Spain. Yes I should be enjoying my retirement. But there is nothing left – and I’ve no one to blame but myself.”
Willie, who spent two decades on the professional snooker circuit, says his gambling hell can be traced to the moment he retired 15 years ago.
He said: “All of a sudden I wasn’t Willie Thorne the snooker player. I found that difficult.”
Hours given to practice, which once made him one of the world’s best players, were replaced with time spent putting money on horses – a love he spoke of in his autobiography that had left him penniless in the past.
It led to him surrounding himself with professional gamblers and other unsavoury associates. And he was drawn in by money lenders who knew he could not resist borrowing big in the hope of a windfall at the race track.
Willie had the gambling under control until two years ago, suffering a relapse when he lost mum Nancy, 87, in July 2013.
He said: “Mum was my rock and everything to me. When she went, my head went. I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’ I wanted to get away from how I was feeling, to win enough to live happily ever after – I know it sounds daft. So where I was having a grand on a horse now and again, I would have a bit more.”
For Willie a “bit more” was sometimes £20,000 on a race. And he fell back in with the wrong people. He says: “I met this guy, a professional gambler. The person who introduced us said he’d won every month for four or five years and he can help you out.”
In the first few weeks using the gambler’s tips Willie was placing several thousands on the horses. And the gambler was able to use Willie as he could secure huge credit with betting firms.
Willie said: “I had a few wins but I had a few big losses too and before I knew it the amount I was in debt was stacking up and up.”
Stuck with massive debts Willie turned to friends, or acquaintances he barely knew, to ask for cash.
“I was borrowing off more and more people. Things just got out of hand. I was robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he says.
“I’d get my hands on some money and would then place a bet to try and win some money to reduce the debt. It’s a vicious circle. I kept saying to friends ‘I’ll sort it out, I’ll sort it out’. But I knew I couldn’t.”
Willie distanced himself from the professional gambler – only to hear he had scooped a £300,000 win. Meanwhile, Willie’s despair was getting deeper.
Eventually, with no money left to wager and no one left willing to lend to him, he tried to take his own life. After leaving home last June Willie drove to a nearby hotel where he made frantic calls to friends trying to borrow money.
When he was knocked back he signed off each call by saying “goodbye” and that he was “sorry for everything he’d done”.
And when word of the calls got back to Jill she called 999. They got to Willie just in time. He was found in a room with a knife and three letters to his family. He says: “I couldn’t see a way out. I thought I’d caused so much grief to so many people.
“I can’t remember a large part of that day. I was oblivious to what was happening. I’d gone. I was told by police afterwards I had a knife. My intention was to end my life. It was a shock to see Jill burst into the room. She saved my life.”
Willie explains: “I had lunatics chasing me and demanding money and I couldn’t see a way out.
“It’s so cowardly isn’t it. I have three children, two stepchildren, grandchildren, a nice house with a loving wife yet I couldn’t see a way through.”
Willie was taken to hospital but soon discharged himself. Next day he was centre stage at a public engagement and as ever the showman kicked in.
He says: “Everyone thinks I’m happy-go-lucky. But they don’t know I’m living a lie. Always smiling, always laughing – but inside feeling hopeless.
“Maybe after the suicide attempt I should have gone to rehab. Perhaps there was a sense of denial, I didn’t want to see the letters I’d written for instance. All I wanted was to sort out the mess.”
But he increasingly turned to money-lenders, some with criminal connections, to put things right. It led to terrifying threats being issued towards Willie and his family. He revealed: “Just before Christmas two men came to our house.
“My wife and I weren’t in but another member of the family was. They said they’d come to collect £300,000 and that they wanted the money repaid.”
Willie and Jill fled their home and contacted police. But the threats got even more severe.
“Threats were made to Jill,” Willie says. “I had a call saying unless I came up with the money they would chop her fingers off to get to the diamond rings. I had to protect my family.”
The ordeal left Jill equally terrified – she started to check every car that passed and every person who came near.
In the end the pair moved out, until they felt it was safe to return at the start of the year. But after moving back Willie got a warning bailiffs might come calling.
Jill cleared the house of everything, including Willie’s trophies. Family photos were stripped from the walls. A dolls house used by the grandchildren went into storage. All that remained was the couple’s bed, a sofa and a wicker chair.
Willie took pictures of his bare house on his mobile and sent them to the people chasing him. But it was all putting off the inevitable – bankruptcy.
Over the past few weeks Willie admits he has been in total denial about the extent of his money woes. It was only when he recently sat down with his friend that he realised the extent of his turmoil.
He owes up to £1million that he borrowed to either settle gambling debts or to lay new bets. More than 30 people are owed money.
Setting out to rebuild his life from scratch, Willie has spoken to the BBC who have vowed to stand by him – giving him a vital lifeline.
He said: “The BBC have said what’s gone on is ‘off the table’. They say they enjoy what I do and that means an awful lot. Nobody knew about anything that was going on at home during the coverage of the World Championship.
I asked Dennis Taylor and John Virgo to borrow five grand. They both said things were ‘a bit tricky’. I think they probably knew it would be for gambling.”
Another person who Willie has turned to in the past is old pal Gary Lineker. The pair have been mates for more than 30 years and starred together in the Best Of Friends series.
Willie says: “I borrowed 10 grand years ago from Gary when I was in trouble. My mum rang him up and Gary helped.” But he resisted asking Gary for help this time.
He said: “Since Gary divorced from his first wife and I split from my ex wife Fiona, we have drifted apart a little. But Gary has helped me. He has been a support and a dear friend.”
The ordeal has had a devastating impact on Willie’s health. He suffered a stroke four years ago and believes the stress caused by his gambling addiction may have contributed.
He also suffers from depression and has to take medication to sleep at night. He said: “I’ve put on two stone. I eat when I’m depressed.”
Despite the turmoil Willie, who has not placed a bet in three months, is determined the future will be brighter.
He said: “I never want to see another betting slip in my life. The grief gambling has caused me is immeasurable. The last two years have destroyed me. I never went out with the intention of hurting anyone but there are people I may never be able to pay back and I’m truly sorry for that.
“Now I just want to try and put things right. I’m at rock bottom but I am desperately going to try and get back up.”
Is that a local league? I'm guessing that from your 88 high break. I used to make the occasional 24 but never played more than casually. The guys I played with were capable of centuries.Time to give this a little bump again. The ever efficient Selby winning his second world title earlier in the year, which was great to see, I think he takes a lot of flack in the game.
Ali Carter won a title over the summer too, which is superb.
My season kicks off in next few weeks, been on the table a bit, going okay. With setting a new highest break of 88 last year, my target this year is 12 more. I'm also playing billiards this season, which will be interesting.