Now any big win is a good win. But cleaning out the camel coats on their home turf and going into the shop to get the readies is always an infinitely more pleasurable experience than simply withdrawing loot from an online account.
And on Thursday it was all set up for me to bust into the bookmakers’ like Lee Van Cleef going through the saloon doors. The night before I had £15 both teams to score and win treble on Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Manchester United that was paying £433.
The first two did the business pretty handily so the sweat on Thursday was United against St Etienne. And despite the French side playing some fine football the Red Devils eventually punched out a 3-0 win. Fair play to the Frenchmen in green though, they gave it a real go and were very unlucky not to find the old oignon bag on the night. Quel salaud!
I was in Newcastle on Saturday for another stag weekend. As you hurtle through your thirties these kind of gigs are as inevitable as death and taxes as people get serious about life and try to put down some roots to give the whole thing a bit of meaning.
I’ve never really got the ‘dressing the stag up outlandishly’ part of these little shindigs though. And while I’ve done some terrible, terrible things while in drink I pride myself on the fact I’ve never woke up in a strange city dressed as Snow White. One of the great joys of going on these dos with old pals is discovering the fact that no f**ker has actually changed since they were in first year seniors. The hard lad is still nails. The sexual pervert who once took a s**t in the school chapel and wiped his a**e on a hymn book remains just that. And the geezer who used to wear those terrible Umbro football manager-style jackets and have a mullet still has no clue about fashion.
There was boozing and of course there was gambling. One lad dropped £300 trying to “buy money” by smashing Burnley to beat Lincoln in the early kick-off. I thankfully avoided any part of that little debacle but was convinced Millwall were good things at 2/1 to beat Leicester and wasn’t shy in telling folk to get some money down.
My confidence didn’t waver even when the Lions had a player sent off early in the second half so when Shaun Cummings popped up with that last-gasp winner at the New Den I went full scale mentaller (and simultaneously became the toast of the stag) in some upmarket cocktail bar who didn’t appreciate me taking my top off and running around a bit like Marco Tardelli at 5pm on a Saturday.
On Monday night I, like the rest of the country, tuned in to watch Sutton United against Arsenal. It was a classic David v Goliath encounter, a game that got loads of publicity with people wanting to know whether the FA Cup, in a year where shocks have been so plentiful, could produce the greatest upset of them all at Gander Green Lane?
Alas it was not to be. Arsenal were always comfortable as they strolled to a 2-0 win. Arsene Wenger called Sutton’s display “astonishing” but having steamed into Arsenal -3 at 17/10 before kick-off I have to admit I wasn’t really that impressed.
And what about that reserve keeper? Wayne Shaw was an 8/1 poke to eat a pie live on air and duly obliged in what was clearly an ill-advised publicity stunt. However all hell broke loose afterwards after he admitted that he knew a few people that had taken the 8/1 on him scranning the meat and potato baked goods. Some nut job calling himself a Gambling Commission Enforcement and Intelligence Director then shrieked that “integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened”.
What the f**k? I mean is it even possible to eat a pie while wearing 3/4 length Joma tracky bottoms and white sports socks with integrity? The upshot is Shaw, who has since left Sutton, could be in hot water with the FA over this. That’s the same FA of course who have their own official betting partner. You couldn’t make it up.
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: Middlesbrough to beat Crystal Palace at 3/1 (Hills)