I had a gun pulled on me, was banned for medicine and punched Alex Higgins! Snooker legend Cliff Thorburn appears to be like again on his colourful career as he prepares to hang up his cue at 73 after one final hurrah
- Cliff Thorburn takes on Kuldesh Johal at the UK Seniors Championship
- The 73-year-old is prepared to pack away his cue for the final time if he loses
- He has lived an thrilling, wonderful and infrequently harmful life to the complete
Snooker’s authentic ‘Grinder’ Cliff Thorburn is prepared to pack away his cue for the final time – after a lifetime of turbulence and triumph that deserves a Hollywood blockbuster to do it justice.
Thorburn loved enormous success on the inexperienced baize within the Eighties, successful 20 titles. The moustachioed, gravel-voiced Canadian was additionally probably the most common and instantly-recognisable faces at a time when gamers acquired virtually rock star standing.
At 73, the person born in British Columbia takes on a participant 32 years his junior on Wednesday, Kuldesh Johal, within the UK Seniors Championship in Hull, in what is going to show to be his final hurrah if he loses.
Rivalry between Cliff Thorburn (left) and Alex Higgins got here to a head within the 1980 ‘SAS last’
But Thorburn has lived an thrilling, wonderful and infrequently harmful life to the complete. His early years after leaving college at 16 have been spent travelling throughout Canada taking part in for cash in pool halls, staking himself with jobs as a bin-man and dishwasher.
‘There have been actually some moments,’ he mentioned. ‘I performed at a place as soon as in Oakland the place I used to be successful and the backer of the opposite man opened up his jacket and confirmed a gun.
‘He mentioned, ‘Ain’t no one leaves right here with my participant’s cash’. My associates instructed me to lose all the cash we had received, which I wasn’t comfortable about. But finally I noticed we had to lose at least a few of it – or get robbed.
‘I did not play down within the States a lot after that. In one place two guys have been smashing cues over one another’s backs then began throwing the balls at one another. Everyone hit the ground and ducked behind tables. After successful cash towards a man known as Cornbread Red in Detroit, backed by a nasty piece of labor, we had to be escorted to our automotive.’
The Canadian (center) celebrates the primary ever most 147 break at the long-lasting Crucible
Snooker had grow to be the most important draw for Thorburn and after performing nicely towards John Spencer in exhibition matches he was advisable for the professional tour in 1973. But if the Canadian had thought issues would possibly quieten down a little, he had reckoned with out the flamable Alex Higgins. A conflict of personalities and kinds ensured rivalry on the desk and confrontations off it.
At the 1983 Irish Open, Thorburn punched the Northern Irishman to the bottom, and as peacemakers tried to make them shake arms, he kicked Higgins within the groin. It emerged that Higgins had instructed his rival, ‘You’re a Canadian c*** who is s*** at snooker!’
This rivalry got here to a head within the 1980 ‘SAS last’, with Thorburn successful his solely world title at the Crucible with an 18-16 victory. TV protection of the showpiece was interrupted to present photos of the storming of the Iranian Embassy in London after a six-day siege. Higgins had a celebratory cake wheeled to his dressing room at 16-16 – Thorburn later planted his face in it.
‘Alex was a heck of participant, however he knew what he may get away with and aggravation simply appeared to comply with him round,’ added Thorburn. ‘I do not know why he was the way in which he was and I nonetheless surprise how he may play so nicely. But I believe I bothered him.
‘In some ways he was my hardest opponent – I misplaced a lot of shut matches to him, at least it felt like too many. And then in fact I’d add Steve Davis.’
Thornburn with stars together with Steve Davis (second left) and Willie Thorne (far proper)
The 73-year-old has lived an thrilling, wonderful and infrequently harmful life to the fullest
Another Crucible excessive for Thorburn got here in 1983 in his second-round match towards Terry Griffiths, when he made the primary ever most 147 break at the long-lasting theatre. Much later, he received the epic match 13-12 at 3.51am on a Monday morning.
His largest career remorse? A £10,000 nice, being docked rating factors and banned for 2 tournaments by the WPBSA after traces of cocaine have been present in a urine pattern in 1988.
‘People overlook that I used to be world No 1 however they certain keep in mind the scandal, and I’ll remorse it for the remainder of my life,’ he mentioned.
These days Thorburn is having fun with a peaceable retirement within the city of Markham, Ontario, taking part in golf, having fun with household time and dabbling in snooker teaching.
The downtime has allowed him to mirror on his trademark mastery of security play which he nonetheless defends to the hilt.
‘You see a lot of flash photographs being performed by the children at the moment,’ he mentioned. ‘That’s nice, however you want one thing to fall again on. I at all times felt security play was rocket science.
‘And I nonetheless suppose it is a pre-requisite to first flip professional after which win issues. Throwing a cue at every thing wins you nothing.’