There is a bookie at the end of our street and the exact score odds on at least one forthcoming match are usually on display in the window or on a billboard outside.
I am not a great better. Even when I do gamble on anything, I rarely win. But today’s offering could hardly escape the eye: £190 on a £10 bet on Stoke to beat Sunderland 3-1.
It is an interesting moral dilemma. A few people have said here how badly we always seem to play at Stoke. Pete Sixsmith remembers a scrappy win under Mick McCarthy but our experience as away fans there is not, in recent memory, great.
But what if you loyally want Sunderland to win, and would be thrilled to see a win as emphatic as the one at Stamford Bridge, but succumb to the temptation to hedge your bets? And say it was 2-1 near the end and you’d put £10 on at my bookie’s shop. Could you live with yourself if they got a last minute penalty and you started mentally spending the winnings?
Most of us would answer No like a shot. But I know from personal experience of SAFC supporters who have put money on a result or first scorer, or whatever, even if it went against their real hopes for the outcome.
I was not tempted. Exact scores are extremely tricky to forecast. And even if they weren’t, the honest truth is that yes, I’d feel thoroughly ashamed as I pocketed and spent the £190.
The last time I looked twice at the bookie’s window – this one wasn’t out on the pavement – they were offering even better odds, something like 25-1, on a scoreline that I thought possible, but highly unlikely:
Wolves 0 Liverpool 3.