Cheeky Punt: How Messi and Mane saved Christmas

Date published: Wednesday 21st December 2016 12:59

Friday was ‘Secret Santa’ day at work. Ask yourself people: Is there anything worse than forced fun? I was dead against the whole sorry charade as it gets on my nipple ends when people start quizzing each other and asking “who’ve you got?” while dropping strong, loud hints about what they would like. The clue is in the title d**kheads. It’s a secret.

But f**k me, what a carry on this year. One admin worker failed to get a present at all while a bloke from accounts had a proper strop after unwrapping a woollen ‘Willy Warmer’ that looked suspiciously like it cost 50p and not within the agreed £5-£10 price range. Personally I reckon you can never have enough woollen ‘Willy Warmers’ and I’m sure it actually says that in the Bible (somewhere towards the back).

In hindsight though I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole ‘Secret Santa’ thing is much like watching Hartlepool United in as much that blind and irrational optimism soon gives way to crushing disappointment and recrimination.

I was at a wedding on Saturday and in a rush after working nights so took a gamble and rather than go to my regular hairdresser I went to an old woman who has a salon (which doubles as a wool shop) near me. She’s been cutting hair and selling wool for well over 30 years; I’d never set foot in the place before Saturday. With a wedding to negate and Christmas fast approaching, if ever there was a time for a barber not to butcher me, this was it.

Of course, she f**king messed it up. Old Edna failed to follow orders and I ended up looking like Kelly Osbourne. But what did I expect getting my weave trimmed by a wool shop woman who was blatantly in her 80s and who refused to even acknowledge that smoking in public was no longer legal?

The wedding itself was good craic. The groom had a word with me beforehand and asked me to keep the wheels on alcohol wise as “this gig is costing over £30k”.

He then sent me a screen shot of some of his outlay. Flowers: £1,200. Venue: £12,000. Platinum Starlight: £1,100. Platinum fu**ing Starlight? He sounds suspiciously like a burly South African scrum half. I didn’t help matters by persuading him to have a monkey on Portsmouth to beat Hartlepool at 8/15 (they finished 0-0). Still, at least I kept my trousers on, whereas his nana was after 12 pints. So every cloud and all that…

There’s a book kicking about called The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. It’s the story of a moody woodcutter who gradually recovers his ability to find joy in life around the festive season.

The Christmas Miracle of Cheeky Punt however happened over 24 hours earlier this week. On Sunday night I had an unfeasibly large wedge on Barcelona minus two goals in their derby clash with Espanyol. With the score at 3-1 heading into injury time my goose looked cooked. Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi had other ideas however as the former dinked a perfectly weighted ball into the area for Messi to run on to and casually volley through the legs of the Espanyol ‘keeper. The Argentine, never one to get his tinsel in a tangle, had got me out of jail.

But the drama didn’t end there. 24 hours later I was smashing Liverpool at 19/20 to the tune of 200 sheets. In truth ‘Mersey Monday’ was a rather turgid spectacle. But do I care when Sadio Mane is popping up with winners four minutes into stoppage time? Do I balls. Two bets. Two winners in injury-time, 24 hours apart. As someone with fewer demons than me once said: ‘Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.’

Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: Leicester City to beat Everton at 6/4 (Hills)


Degsy Bilton

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