Welcome to a new series of columns that I am writing for Greyhound Star over the coming months.
Hopefully we will have a few laughs about some of the things I have seen and been a part of in the last 30 years as a bookie.
Unfortunately, I have to start with an article that is far from funny and about the worst time in my life when I was smeared for being part of a betting coup that never occurred.
I would like the true story told because as far as I am concerned, the stigma still follows me around.
I remember it well. It was 27th December 2013 and I had been in the betting shop backing horses at Kempton. I was backing short priced favourites and every single one got turned over.
I did my brains and I was on the phone to a mate, who is a very good judge, who told me that there was going to be a few quid going on some forecast doubles and trebles at three different tracks, Sittingbourne, Monmore and Newcastle the following night.
Now anybody in the game knows that pulling off any type of gamble at any track is difficult, to do it at three different tracks, is not even worth thinking about.
Basically, the person I spoke to was simply a great judge who spends a of time watching videos of races.
So I laid out £280 on a straight nap at Sittingbourne, as it was known then, and £900 on a mixture of multiple forecast doubles bets on seven different tickets.
The nap got beat. But I managed to get three of the forecasts up and won around £8,000. At least it made up for the day in the shops.
I was due to go on holiday to Tenerife but withdrew one of the tickets and planned to draw the other when I got back.
I thought no more of it until I got a phone call saying that the second payment was being withheld as part of an investigation by the Gambling Commission.
The next thing I know, I received a phone call from the Racing Post telling me that they would be writing a story about me.
It was a big article and absolutely destroyed me claiming that I was the instigator for a major gambling coup. I have no doubt that the guy I was talking to must have been on as well, but that was nothing to do with me. That’s how gambling is when someone thinks they know something.
I knew I was innocent but my world crumbled around me. I was immediately suspended from my role on SKY Sports awaiting the outcome of the investigation.
They were very nice about it, in fact the controller at the time, George Irvine allowed me to record a video at their studios in Milton Keynes.
Ironically, it was a video about how to back dogs in forecasts, something that had interested me for many years. I would also go for a starter and a finisher, since two fast breakers were unlikely to both get a run.
Suddenly I was a complete pariah, even people from SKY wouldn’t speak to me, the exception being Gary Newbon.
The only bookie who would have anything to do with me was Fred Done (Betfred). He stood by me throughout.
I decided to clear my name and had top solicitor Christopher Stewart-Wright defend me in the Gambling Commission enquiry.
I was cleared of all charges relating to the coup, though they did manage to find something to charge me with.
I was asked whether I had taken a telephone bet on a particular date at Sittingbourne.
I had forgotten all about it, but said, ‘what if I did? I’ve done nothing wrong.’
In fact, I had taken a call from William Hill who wanted to bring the price in on a dog and we split the £300 between the three books and the dog was cut from 2-1 to even money.
The guy from the Gambling Commission told me that I didn’t have the right licence to take a phone bet.
Now in all the years I have been a track bookie, I have never known of anyone paying for that particular licence. It costs £17.80p but they had a point to prove and fined me £2,500.
I could have appealed it but it was the week before the Epsom Derby and it would have meant my licence was suspended. So I reluctantly paid.
I was determined to sue the Racing Post for defamation but my brief told me ‘they haven’t got anything’ so we settled for a full apology of exactly the same space as the original article.
My winnings were £8,000 and my legal costs to clear my name were £13,000.
Although it was over, it had come at a very bad time in my life. I was going through a divorce and had major worries about a gastric sleeve that I had had fitted.
I became a recluse. Even though I had 80 pitches on different horse race courses, I barely left the house for 18 months.
Saturdays were my busiest and favourite days but I didn’t think about horses or dogs. I spent Saturdays wandering around Loughborough Market. I spent most days in the week in my greenhouse.
I might have still been there but for going out to be a car for my partner. The salesman worked out that I was in trouble and knew of a psychiatrist friend who had retired but still saw the occasional patient.
That was the turning point.
So why did it all happen?
It was down to one powerful individual in the greyhound and betting industries, who retired not so long ago.
He had a grudge with me going back to the ‘Dettori Seven’ meeting when he reckons I should have returned the last winner at evens instead of 2-1.
He was just waiting to get me and the reporter on the Racing Post did his bidding.