Football: Outside Edge - Scam of sparkies riding Suzukis

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The Independent Online
SO LET'S see if I've got this straight, then - the theory of it at least. This guy from the Far East has got this betting syndicate with some mates. He places a bet in Jakarta, on the floodlights failing simultaneously at three English football grounds. His mates fly over to Heathrow. They hire 500cc Suzukis and whizz round the country cutting off the juice at the three grounds. He then pockets the winnings.

OK, so I know things didn't quite go according to plan. Thanks, we're told, to a police sniffer dog called Pickles. But what is it with this guy who takes all these bets? He makes Trigger off Only Fools and Horses seem like Magnus Magnusson. I mean, most bookies are sharp enough to shave you smooth. This fellow, though, seems as slack as an attack led by Ibrahim Bakayoko.

Can you even begin to imagine the conversation that took place in the guy's office? English sub-titles, of course.

"Right, then. So you're putting on 10 billion yen at 20-1 that the floodlights will fail at the matches involving Valleypool and Liverton, Crook Town and Bedlington Terriers, and Adlington and Chipping Norton. Now, you sure that's right?"


"Just three failures?"


"You wouldn't like better odds? I mean, nothing like this has ever happened before, you know. You sure I can't throw in that special Parting of the Red Sea/Plague of Locusts each-way double we're offering at 1,000,000- 1?"

"Nah! The 20-1 is fine. I've got this feeling in my water."

"OK then. It's a lot of money you're splashing out, though."

"Yeah. Look, don't worry. That's gambling. Anyhow, must dash. The lads have got a plane to catch. By the way, don't suppose you've any wire- cutters we can borrow?"

Let's be honest, the thing doesn't stack up, does it? In fact, it poses more questions than it answers.

For instance, could even Trigger have fallen for the scam? Did Pickles sniff out the saboteurs? Have Adlington actually got floodlights?

Just consider this for a minute. And I know we're only theorising here. But, you've all been to a bookies before. You tell me a bookie who'd offer 1,000,000-1 for that each-way Biblical double. I mean, come on! With modern- day technology. Wave machines. Tidal barriers. Genetic Engineering. You'd be lucky to get 100-1. Certainly 150-1 tops.

Do you know what I think? I think it was all a double bluff. The whole thing. I'm convinced old Trig was not so dumb after all. I reckon as soon as our syndicate wallah was out of the door, Trig was on the blower to the Sweeney Todd. From then on it was Bob's your uncle, Charlie's your aunt.

And as for Pickles. Do you honestly believe that a dog that was around for the 1966 World Cup could still have such a keen sense of smell 33 years later? I don't.

There again, I wouldn't bet on it.