Cheeky Punt: Phoenix Nights, Nancy Dell’Olio…

Date published: Wednesday 20th January 2016 10:38

We may only be a couple of weeks into 2016 but it is with a very heavy heart that I am forced to report a very early contender for most ridiculous wager of the year.

It all started when I got a text off a mate last Wednesday who had been speaking to his mate, who had ‘inside info’ that an indoor bowls player called Simon Skelton had been involved in an accident earlier that day and broken his toe. He was due to face John Price in the Just Retirement Professional World Indoor Bowls Championships later that night and Price was an 11/10 outsider to win.

By the time I found the bet, Price had been cut to 4/6, suggesting the toe craic was in fact genuine and so I doubled him to win (to the tune of £100) with Stoke City to beat Norwich in the Premier League.

By the time the match came round Price had been smashed into 2/5 and I for one was delighted when his opponent trundled into the venue in a wheelchair – helped by a friend. In a scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of Phoenix Nights, Skelton suffered the indignity of being pushed around between ends like a hospital patient and he duly lost the first set 10-5.

It looked a complete formality that Price, a world champion in 1990, would wrap up the win, especially when Skelton at one point fell out of the wheelchair mid-match at Potters Leisure Resort. I’ve found out to my cost down the years though that formalities and gambling make uneasy bedfellows and could barely believe my eyes as a resurgent Skelton raced into a 5-0 lead early doors in set two before sending the match into a best-of-three-end tie-break.

And he completed his amazing recovery in the breaker to record surely the greatest comeback since Lazarus of Bethany sauntered out of the tomb in his pants after being dead for four days way back when.


I was meant to be doing dry January but after two weeks of blissful sobriety fell off the wagon in spectacular fashion on Friday night when a mate of mine gate-crashed Chez Punt and brought with him a rather lethal bottle of Admiral Vernons Old J Tiki Fire 151 Ovenproof Rum. This stuff was 75.5% Abv and after just one mouthful it felt like a b*stard gorilla was pulling my chest hair out in big clumps. I was absolutely mashed after just a few glasses and given it was payday decided on a little late-night punting on Celebrity Big Brother.

A mate of mine who is a regular watcher of CBB (and midget pornography, bizarrely – sorry Lee) was convinced Nancy Dell’Olio would be the second person evicted from the Big Brother house (she was trading at 8/15). I had not watched any of the action this year and was astounded by the lack of credible ‘celebs’ when I tuned in. I mean seriously, if a gunman broke into that house and killed the residents it would be months before they were all identified, possibly years. Happily the public did recognise that Dell’Olio was a bit of a nightmare and duly voted Sven’s ex out. It meant I touched for over £120 but more importantly could finally banish the memory of the now infamous ‘Phoenix Nights bowls bet’ that my friends had been hammering me about since Wednesday.


That Admiral Vernon has a lot to answer for. I woke up on the stairs on Saturday morning, still drunk, and felt that the only recourse available to me was to spend the day in the boozer.

It was a messy old session that ended with me face-planting a flower pot at one point, but not before smashing into David Haye to win his comeback fight with Mark de Mori in the first round.

‘The Hayemaker’ had been out of the ring for over three years but I was convinced that his power would be too much for his Aussie heavyweight opponent and so tickled the 6/1 action and hoped for the best.

Haye duly did the business inside three minutes and an old geezer in the boozer hit the nail on the head regarding the quality of Haye’s comeback opponent when he mused “What’s the difference between that de Mori and my trousers? My trousers have a f*cking belt.” Touche!


Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: Watford to beat Newcastle at 11/10 (Stan James)  

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