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More Characters

Good morning all,

Thank you for all the comments on yesterday's blog post, if you've not had a look at he comments I'd advise you to do so, as there's some good points made (not least the smoking ban, which I have no doubt had a massive impact on betting shops and their clientele) and one or two reminiscing about their own characters, sadly no longer with us.

I'll just do one more on it, as I worked I quite a few shops when I was younger and met an awful lot of interesting people….! Plus today's selection, we got off to a good start for the week yesterday and I'm hoping to keep that going. 

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The first shop I ever worked in was owned by Provincial Racing, who later became part of the Bet365 empire, I believe. Certainly most of their shops were around the Stoke and East Midlands region and I started cashiering in one of them in the late 80s/early 90s.

I remember Tenpenny Richard very well. He'd have no end of 10p bets every day, usually writing about 6 of them on each slip, underlining each one carefully and almost writing the selection in 3D. If nothing else, he got your slip count up, but the problem was that he'd wait until Monday morning to collect all his winnings. You'd spend half an hour matching his slips up, then digging out and resettling any you'd missed. He basically recycled the same money, usually staking around £30 a week and picking the majority up the next week. Cheap entertainment for him!

We used to have one bloke that came in every now and then and ask if we'd had his bets. We'd always ask how that was possible, given we'd not seen him for a fortnight, and at that point he'd usually laugh, say something about pigeons, and have a Flag bet. In the end, he went a bit mad, and was sadly taken away after running through the market place stark naked and locking himself in the local fish and chip shop owners BMW, parked outside the chippy. We never saw him after that…..

We had a bloke called Malcolm that would come in every day and play the old doubling-up on favourites until he'd won his tenner. “Easy money, this”, he'd say, as it worked like a charm for a month or so. I don't need to tell you how this one ends though, do I? Eight losers in on a cold winter's day, and the next jolly is fours-on in a novice hurdle at Folkestone. Remember it like it was yesterday. I also remember Malcolm's face as he walked out the shop after it got stuffed, not saying a word.

He never came back, either.

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Andy was funny, would bet on dogs, only a couple of quid or so, but would declare “no race, no race” and wave his hands every time he backed a loser. And old Dennis, who knew every winner after it had gone past the post and had backed loads of them too. Although, incredibly, always “at the other shop”…..

Today's selection comes from Lingfield, where I'm going to give Roy's Legacy a try in the 4.50. At the weights he's got a bit to find with one or two of these, but this might be run to suit him – there's no out-and-out pacemaker here, and this could, quite literally, turn into a sprint up the straight. Hopefully he will be ridden prominently here, and if he gets first run, might prove hard to peg back.

Good luck with all your bets today,


1 thought on “More Characters”

  1. I worked in a betting shop for 10 months and now days I pop into the betting shop down the road quite regular in my break time in my current job and quite frankly betting shops are not very nice places these days.
    Going back to 07/08 when I worked in a betting shop I enjoyed the first few hours because you had the regulars especially the pensioners who would have a chat and put on there daily bets and go home also during racing you would have more regulars not many maybe up to a Dozen at most were fine.
    But for long periods off time especially after the afternoon racing had finished the shop would be empty.
    The Machines have made the shops viable to stay open as they do take more overall then betting but unfortunately most who go on these make the betting shop a not so nice place to visit and to me this is as much to blame as the smoking ban.
    I know the shop experience may alter from area to area but pretty much what I have said above is pretty widespread in a lot off parts of inner city East and North London.
    Finally Staff turnover and lack of knowledge doesn’t help either these days with a lot off shops maybe with the exception off the manager don’t really know the ins and outs of betting but again the turnover off staff is down to abuse not from the sports betting but the vast majority of the time from the machine users.

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