Cliff Thorburn, one of snooker’s great players of the 1980s and all-time great ambassadors, played his last competitive match on Wednesday before calling time on a career which has lasted over 50 years.
Canada’s Thorburn won the World Championship in 1980, held the world number one position for a season and lifted the Masters trophy three times. Perhaps his most memorable achievement was becoming the first player to make a 147 at the Crucible, scoring the maximum against Terry Griffiths in 1983.
Having won the North American Championship in 1971, Thorburn turned pro in 1973 and stayed on the tour until 1996. In recent years he has played in Snooker Legends and World Seniors events.
Over several decades, Thorburn has been a fantastic figurehead for snooker and a great friend to many people on the circuit. He is rightly regarded as one of the best ever non-British players who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport.
The 73-year-old announced that this week’s WAYS Facilities Management UK Seniors Championship in Hull would be his last tournament. He lost 3-0 to Kuldesh Johal in the last 16.
After that match, Thorburn told Rob Walker: “I love the game, it’s dear to my heart. Like everyone else, I didn’t want to go to sleep at night, I wanted to stay in the club all day long, then I couldn’t wait to wake up. When I’d been practising heavily, someone said to me ‘Thorburn, you spend more time on the table than the cloth.’
“I met so many people I have copied. John Spencer helped me to turn professional, I was one of the token overseas players. I remember my games with Alex Higgins – I never met anyone who wanted to win as badly as him. Sadly he went by the wayside too soon, but I have great memories of him. Ray Reardon, Rex Williams, Fred Davis – I admired and tried to copy them. It was a romantic style of snooker, very polished and smooth.
“It has been wonderful. I am going to stay involved with the game for as long as I can.”
Recalling his 1980 Crucible triumph, beating Higgins 18-16 in the final, Thorburn added: “I played very well against Alex, I didn’t miss a ball in the last two frames. My wife came down to the stage which made it really special. It was a very happy day and I remember exactly how I felt. All my best friends from Canada were there and at the end of the evening they didn’t make it to their hotel room, they passed out in the corridor without being able to get the key in the door – it was that kind of night.”
Watch the full interview here
Our best wishes go to The Grinder and we hope he has many happy years in his retirement.
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