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Malcolm Thorne tributes   (19.1.11)

Mark Selby and Tom Ford make their tributes to Malcolm Thorne in the Leicester Mercury today:

Selby said: "I went to see him at Loros before the Masters and, even though he had been ill for some time, the news still came as a shock.

"He was like a second father to me and I owe everything to him. I would not be where I am now without him.

"He took me under his wing when I was starting out, helped me financially and drove me to all the tournaments.

"He was a very caring guy and put everyone else first, he was always looking out for you.

"That takes a special person and he will be sadly missed."

Ford, the world No.30, also admitted he would not be where he was now if it had not been for Malcolm.

"He gave me a chance when no-one else would," said Ford.

"I was too young to play at clubs, but he was the one who let me do so and supported me.

"He was the backbone of snooker and an awful lot of players, even the top ones, have a lot to thank him for."

Here's my own tribute to Malcolm from a couple of days ago.

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RIP Malcolm Thorne 1950-2011   (18.1.11)

Malcolm ThorneMalcolm Thorne, brother of the snooker legend Willie, has died after a long battle with cancer.

All my memories of Malc (as we knew him at the club, since everyone's names had by social convention to be shortened to a single syllable) are fond ones. I got to know him perhaps thirteen years ago now, when I set foot in Willie Thorne's club on Charles Street in Leicester for the first time. He set me up on a table to practise for free so that I could see how I liked the club. When I'd finished, he explained that the club did a deal for kids who wanted to practise and improve their game. We'd pay £10 a week, for which princely sum we were allowed to play for as long as we liked until 7pm each day.

I was a hopeless snooker player, but Malcolm had built up a club that was so warm and generous of spirit that even I, a decidedly socially awkward teenager, felt welcome, comfortable and encouraged there. Malc was an assertive but self-effacing presence in the club: unafraid to tell us off when tellings-off were in order, but never overbearing or self-important. Malc worked long hours managing the club, keeping us kids on the straight and narrow, and most of all organising weekly junior, handicap and pro-am tournaments. His tireless work on the junior snooker circuit sparked and nourished the careers of many -- Mark Selby, Jamie Cope, Tom Ford, Judd Trump and Ben Woollaston being some of the most recent successes to have benefited from Malc's diligence.

I count myself privileged to have known him for a few years and to have been able to compete alongside young players who have since reached the top level of their sport. Malcolm's was a life lived for others, and one I shall neither forget nor cease to be inspired by.

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