Danger of gambling with a career
Thursday 05 January 1995
This, and the pecuniary evident in some of my team-mates ensured that it was a while before I succumbed to the temptation. Instead, I stuck with the more serious types - you may think it surprising, but every club has them - who seldom took a drink and were considered to be good family men. The metamorphosis was gradual.
Since a time that memory recreates as being one of comparative innocence, I have come across any number of sportsmen who are the poorer for failing to observe that bookmakers dress the best and work the least.
This a foible common to all walks of life, not least journalism, but there is often widespread shock when it results in sportsmen coming up against the sort of financial predicament that brought about Peter Shilton's suspension from his post as manager of Plymouth Argyle yesterday.
Some years ago, on an England tour of South America, we fell out. The details are unimportant, but as I recall, there was fault on both sides. The next day, Shilton generously offered a hand in friendship. The basis for reconciliation seemed to be that we both liked a bet, although his were considerably larger than mine.
On a personal note, that is not the basis of relationships formed with some footballers, but it helped cement them. The irresistible thing to say is that I find risk-takers appealing.
The former Rangers and Scotland half-back, Jim Baxter, could once be heard speaking with uncharacteristic reverence about his countryman, Dave Mackay, who many understandably believe to be the most influential player in Tottenham Hotspur's history.
What Baxter remarked on was Mackay's daring. "The Marquis [Mackay's nickname in the Scotland team] would bet you to death. Whatever you attempted in training, or just hanging around the place, he'd bet himself to do better."
The great Celtic manager, Jock Stein, never took a drink in his sadly foreshortened life, but on and off the field, gambling came naturally to him. one manager had the "blower" - a method by which racecourse commentaries were relayed to betting shops - connected to his office.
A coach of considerable distinction was "warned off" after failing to settle a monumental bet. Two players were involved in an outrageous scam that involved large on-course betting by an Indian stallholder plucked from Petticoat Lane and passed off as a prince.
Going back a bit in time, a telephone was removed from the home dressing-room at Arsenal, following the discovery that bets on horses were being placed immediately before the kick-off.
When one of the club's finest players and later captain, the Scottish international, Jimmy Logie, went missing just 20 minutes before the 1950 FA Cup final against Liverpool, it was discovered that he had crept out to learn the result of a dog race.
The marvellous Australian all-rounder, Keith Miller, was more likely to consult the racing calendar than the tour itinerary. When bowling against England at Lords, information on a bet reached Miller by signal from the players' balcony.
"Gather it lost," Len Hutton said sardonically, after a ferocious bumper had whistled past his head. "Too bloody right it did," Miller replied.
In the years of sad decline, when he was grateful to be employed as a casino "greeter" at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, it was put to Joe Louis that he would have grown exceedingly rich as a heavyweight in the modern era. "Just bigger bets," he said phi l osophically. "Just bigger bets."
From experience, there are any number of people in sport who would find it easier to fill in their tax returns than make out a betting slip. The remainder have my sympathy.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea injury news: Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic could join Diego Costa on the sidelines for crucial Manchester City clash
Australian Open 2015: Thanks to Amelie Mauresmo, it's no longer Andy Murray against the world
Manchester United sign former Manchester City prospect Sadiq El Fitouri on advice from Phil Neville and Paul Scholes
Kim Sears 'swearing' outburst threatens to overshadow Andy Murray's Australian Open semi-final win
Arsene Wenger photobombs Arsenal photo shoot - manages to look like famous 'Bigfoot' picture
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...