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Willie Thorne: Taking a punt on his life

"The day I tried to kill myself: Snooker star and TV pundit Thorne relives darkest hour"





Willie Thorne has written frankly about his suicide attempt in his new autobiography, Taking A Punt on My Life.


One of the most recognisable men in snooker attempted to take his life nine years ago after being crippled by a gambling addiction and mounting depression.


'I saw it as my big get-out, a way of shedding all responsibilities for my actions with no comebacks. I'd had enough,' he revealed in the book currently being serialised by the Daily Mirror.


'On that day in March 2002, a few days after my 48th birthday, I'd had enough. The fight had gone out of me and I couldn't see a way out.'


Thorne overdosed on prescribed sleeping pills in March 2002, but was revived in Leicester Royal Infirmary after being found unconscious by his 11-year-old step-son, James.


'If James hadn't made that call it's quite likely it's quite likely I would have never opened my eyes again,' he writes.






'It was a terrible thing to do. I was taking the easy way out and leaving her (wife Jill) to to mop up the mess I had created.'


Thorne admits that he has suffered from depression all his life, but it was his addiction to gambling that tipped him over the edge.


'I felt trapped by the financial problems I had, the mounting debts which I just couldn't seem to conquer.


'Gambling had been my addicition for many years. I squandered hundreds of thousands of pounds in an attempt to beat the bookies, stay ahead of the game.'


Thorne was able to fund his addiction while he was playing professionally, but it was when he retired that his problems began to mount.


'When it came to gambling, my logic had been pushed firmly to one side. It had started as a fun activity as a youngster and, during the boom years of snooker, what I earned as a professional allowed me to fund my addiciton without having to worry about the financial implications.'


Since recovering from his gambling problems Thorne has rebuilt his life. He is still happily married to Jill and has established himself as the new voice of the BBC's snooker commentary.






Thorne, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007, admitted: 'I carry the guilt of having caused so much pain and anguish to those who were closest to me.'






snooker loopy


Thorne, Tony Meo, Terry Griffiths, Chas, Dave, Dennis Taylor, Steve Davis




Thorne has also admitted that he wasn't always the most faithful of husbands.

Thorne said: 'I am not proud of the fact I was not the most faithful of husbands.

'I have to own up to having the sort of weakness in my character that allowed me to succumb to temptation on many occasions when it came to women. Like any other red-blooded man, being attracted to women was just a natural part of my life.'

'Where things probably differed for me was that, because of my fame and the type of job I did, the opportunity to stray was always present. People can point a finger at me and say that although there was the opportunity, it didn't mean I had to take it, and I agree.

'My only defence is that I was too weak and that the chance to go off with other women was all too easy, especially when snooker took me away from home so often for long periods at a time.

'That was really when I began to stray. I certainly never met women close to home. It may sound strange but I actually never really saw it as being unfaithful or having affairs.

'In my own mind, I put the episodes in their own little compartment. The two parts of my life were separate. One never needed to interfere or impinge on the other.'

He adds: I know it is ridiculous and a warped way of looking at things but I suppose that was how I was able to live with what I was doing without feeling bad about myself.

'I'm sure many men justify being unfaithful to their wives and partners in the same way. It is not something I am proud of now but it happened.

'I don't kid myself that I was the most handsome guy around and a lot of the time it was simply a case of women being seduced by my celebrity rather than my looks.

'There were always women around when we were taking part in tournaments. I suppose you could say they were "snooker groupies" and they were always keen to get close to the players.'