ONE of the most talented snooker players of all time is dropping into Sheffield today to promote his new book.
Willie Thorne, now a commentator for the BBC, is to pay a visit to book store Waterstones, on Orchard Square, at 3pm to sign copies of his autobiography, Taking A Punt On My Life.
Thorne, who lived in Sheffield for seven years, secured 14 titles in his glittering career and made a record 196 maximum breaks. At the height of the sport’s popularity, he famously appeared in the classic Chas ‘n’ Dave video, Snooker Loopy.
But lurking behind the glitz and glam of Thorne’s happy-go-lucky exterior lurked a dark secret. The Leicester-born potter was a gambling addict and by the end of his career had blown £1.5 million to the bookmakers of Britain. In the book, Thorne bares his soul, talking openly and frankly about his life - the good times and the bad - his talent, his addiction, the dark days and his attempted suicide and his inspirational recovery from the brink.
Asked what inspired him to write the book, Thorne said: “I know of at least 100 top professional footballers who have serious gambling problems. If I can help at least one of those with the book then that would make me happy; it is a terrible illness and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Gambling is a disease and it is very difficult to get out of your system. It made me try to take my life and that is how desperate you get as a gambler. You end up borrowing money and not being able to pay it back and it cost me my first marriage.”
n Taking A Punt On My Life is out now, published by Vision Sports Publishing, £18.99 at Waterstones or Amazon.