I recently had the good fortune to pick up a little extra work writing for sports-betting web site in the United States. My weekly column will eventually focus on every top flight game with a brief analysis of team news, managerial battles and a correct score forecast on each individual fixture.
It’s a fun position that just about covers the occasional can of beer I dink while writing it and the site is very expressive about my predictions being treated as entertainment instead of as a means to making vast sums of money.
Just as well. Although I’ve been an indirect part of the game for many years, I’ve rarely placed much more than a couple of pounds on the outcome of a game of football and when I have, the results have usually been pretty disastrous.
For some reason, throwing a score at a carthorse or placing a fiver on every race at the local dog track has never really bothered me. I go into it expecting to lose and see it as nothing else than a harmless bit of fun.
Football is a different proposition altogether. Because I’ve been around the game for a few years, I mistakenly believe that I actually know something about it. An in-form centre forward is always going to stand a better chance of being first goalscorer than a journeyman centre-back who only ventures past the halfway line to remonstrate with referees. It makes perfect sense!
Until I bet on it.
Struggling relegation candidates will rarely topple a team with title aspirations and when I do bet on the big teams, I do so in the hope that the big four will do what they usually manage to achieve during every other week of the season. After all, you can stick Manchester United or Liverpool in front of an ailing West Bromwich Albion or Newcastle and enjoy counting your winnings before a ball has even been kicked.
Until I bet on it.
I’ve even dabbled with managerial casualties on a few occasions. A string of bad results, player unrest and conflict between gaffer and chairman is usually a good enough indication to get down to the old red sign and pop a few bob on a guaranteed addition to the dole queue.
Until I bet on it.
For a game that can only have three possible outcomes, it’s amazing how often I get it wrong. I have an overbearing sadness of a long list permutation that I wagered in the mid-eighties that cost me a large sum of money after Bath City scored a late, late equaliser at Ashton Gate. They promptly lost 3-0 in the replay, presumably to rub salt in my wounds. It was a devastating experience that saw me swear to never bet on the game again unless it was purely for fun and I’ve never wavered from it yet.
A horse race will essentially be a predictable affair. The horses will enter the stalls, leave the stalls, run around for a bit and then cross the finishing line in a totally random order. There’s no chance of a horse going over the line off of somebody’s arse or the stewards missing the winner altogether and waving \’play on’ instead’.
Horses that should have been in the knacker’s yard years ago will never knee one into the back of the net like Gary McAllister used to and if a jockey is suspected of not trying, he’ll get a fine and a ban. Didier Drogba should take note.
The thought of anybody taking my column seriously is too silly to even contemplate. I couldn’t bear the thought of somebody having blind faith in my inabilities. Thankfully, I don’t see the page generating much interest stateside anyway. They don’t do football over there!
I shall nevertheless attempt to produce a weekly article that gives our friends across the pond a bit of light-hearted relief from the NFL, NBC or whatever three-lettered sport they’re betting on that particular weekend. I fully expect to earn a reputation of being completely useless within the first few weeks before interest dies off altogether and I simply end up writing the column for myself!