The Gambler

In the absence of any real Lincoln City news I have to satisfy my urge to blog by finding some other football related topic to write about. I’ve got the writing urge tonight, my other half is at The Stone Roses gig and I have the house to myself. What better way to celebrate than write something and get an early night?


Those who are friends with me on social media already know that this afternoon I wrestled with a bet that ultimately could have won me £322. I had a six match accumulator starting with France and Romania and ending tonight with Iceland to beat Hungary. The cash out after England’s last gasp win over Wales stood at £100, but I chose to see out the Iceland game. If I looked back at my betting history I should have known better.

I would have remembered my very first bet as a fresh faced 18 year old on the weekend of November 19th 1996. Aston Villa were playing Leicester and I took Leicester 2-1 with Muzzy Izzet to score at anytime. £5 stake to return over a ton, not a small sum for a struggling teenager trying to run a car and impress girls. When you’re sporting ginger curtains you need money to impress girls.

Muzzy Izzet scored for Leciester. He scored in the last minute to make it 3-1. No money for my celebrations, no splashing out on Diamond White down Horncastle Town Hall.

If I had a calculated and reasoned mind I would have thought back to the McAlpine Stadium on 19th May 2004.  I had Mark Bailey to score anytime and Lincoln to win 2-1 on 90 minutes, at a tasty 65-1. I had £10 riding on that, but a Rob Edwards goal seven minutes from time robbed me not only of my big win but also of a play off final spot for a great Lincoln City side. Double heart break.

By 2007 I’d switched to long accumulators with a small stake. I decided that playing the lottery was random, but me guessing the outcome of six matches wasn’t. I’d win smaller amounts, but at least I’d have some reasoning to my selections. However I got greedy and ended up putting 12 matches on for a couple of quid. I stood to win over £75k nearly every week. Every week of course only one or two games came in. I kept betting but stopped checking my betting slips on the Satruday. One week where a cursory glance down my coupon revealed that I had secured 11 of my twelve picks, I’d accidentally picked a Tuesday night game in with my weekend selections. That was most unlike me. However all I needed was the Tuesday night match at Ipswich against Watford to be a home win, and for 89 minutes of the match it was. For 89 minutes I had an awful lot of money in my pocket.

Back in those days there was no ‘cash out’ available to me. I’d taken my choices into the bookies and got a betting slip. Had I had the option of cashing out for something like £50k before the game I would have bitten their hand off. By the time the 90th minute arrived and Ipswich were still 1-0 up I would have likely got £68k out of them. £68k. I doubt I would have held my nerve up to £68k.

Nathan Ellington scored in the last minute for Watford. I lost every penny.

Only a month before I’d had my first proper win as well. I’d had a five match accy consisting of some Euro qualifiers. I’d wanted Greece and Moldova as a home win, but I used a different bookie to usual and I accidentally marked it as a draw because I got confused with the betting slip. I was gutted, until a last minute Moldova goal snatched a draw and earned me the princely sum of £42. However knowing my only win was a fluke and seething at the perceived loss of a life changing sum of money I gave up betting.

Only now I’ve worked myself into a position where I can afford a £10 bet every now and again, and with apps on phones and cashing out options it makes uninteresting games very interesting. That’s how I came to be sat in front of the TV at half time of the Iceland and Hungary game with a potential cash out of £220 available to me. Iceland were winning and Hungary had looked subdued. Had I learned my lessons from the past?

Yes and no. In my opinion if you put a bet on you owe it to yourself to at least try and see if it comes in. If I’d had that £68k available to me then maybe it’d be different, but £322 isn’t life changing. There’s a saying with gambling, only bet what you can afford to and with the introduction of cashing out that has also become only cash in what you can’t afford not to. If it’s £68k you can’t afford to be brave, but at £322 you can.

However I’m also sensible so I took £110 and waited. Under normal conditions, and in line with my betting history I would have lost the lot in the last minute. I would have screwed up another betting slip and vowed to start playing the lottery again. At least when you lose on the lottery it’s not random. When losing on a accy you’ve failed with your picks. It’s directly down to you. That’s enough to stop any man betting. When Hungary scored I smiled a wry smile. I tucked a ton in my bank account and immediately searched for some nice Mexico 86 stickers to add to my burgeoning collection. I’m a gambler but I like vintage Panini stickers much more and can never justify buying them with money I actually earn. I’m not 12.

I’m not really sure where this piece is going from here if I’m honest. I wanted to deliver some moral at the end of it, or come at your with some sentimental image to take away, but I’ve got nothing…. Actually I do have something, I have £10 on Portugal beating Austria 2-0 and Ronaldo scoring at anytime. Set to bag me £80 if it comes in, which should help fill those spaces in my Orbis World Cup 90 folder that I first started collecting as an 11 year old in hospital with whooping cough. I’ve come a long way.

Gamble responsibly kids.