Friday, 28 May 2010


I see that the king of the blogging sceptics, Cassini, has suggested that my regular repeated waffles on the subjects of inconsistency, discipline and carelessness may be a front, and that I should be put on a pedestal alongside those heroes, Adam Heathcote and Psycoff, on the ‘winners’ platform. I maintain that my only association with the above named is that I too have the talent for drinking plenty of liquid during betting sessions. He even suggests that my lack of P&L evidence is not recoverable, due to the simplicity of P&L forgery.

As a humble builder, I have neither the software or computing ability to carry out such mischief. Therefore, the occasional P&L’s I produce are simply to illustrate the issues within my post. As you can see from the above, I had yet another frustrating day yesterday, only saved by my great skill in the field of clay court tennis. Cassini and his cohorts, ‘Anonymous 1’ and ‘Anonymous 2’, do a great disservice to our completely honest blogging community.

My status as a winner can only be confirmed from my stellar performance in Stephen Maher’s just completed ‘Gamblers Anonymous’ fantasy football league, finishing second in a fifteen player league. To be fair, I had the tandem talents of Stephen Gerrard and Fernando Torres in my team for most of the year, and it would be extremely difficult to create a poor team with those two giants in it. Umm.

No betting today, as I’m in Birmingham this evening to see Natalie Merchant at the Symphony Hall. In celebration, here’s a bit of classic archive from the days when Jonathan Ross was an up-and-coming talent at the BBC.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Dusting Off Cobwebs

My last post seems but a distant memory. It’s been a while. I can only blame work, although the warm weather may also be relevant. Any blog-obsessed nutters out there would have noted that most of my posts are made around midnight. That’s been well after my bedtime for the last couple of weeks.

The time I have spent on the laptop has been fairly normal. My recurring themes go on – start the month with aimless bets and carelessness, make things worse with frustrated chasing, have a head-clearing break, come back with a disciplined and structured recovery mission. End month back at square one. I’m currently in the red for May, but a couple more decent days should put me back where I started from.

I’ve dabbled a little with the French Open with no success. My previous tennis profits were founded upon a base of knowledge gained from closely following tournaments throughout the year. Without that, it feels like stepping out into heavy traffic. Worse still, I still have opinions on players that are probably nine months out of date. I’ve been limited to placing bets for each day’s play on the evening beforehand, and then monitoring with my I-phone, with iBetmate used to close out bets. It’s a little cumbersome, but I’m aware of the limitations when I place the bets. More limiting is my lack of confidence. I’ve scratched a number of winning selections during play (Rochus, Beck, Zeballos) and haven’t improved my mood by taking all-greens on the winners (Melzer, Giraldo, Lacko), whilst leaving open first set winners who went on to lose (Querrey, Kvitova). Bah.

Maybe this is the main issue I have to resolve – is this a hobby to make money from, or an interest in punting that I hope to keep self-funding? The stats say that my tennis bets have simply reduced my monthly P&L by £100, and I’d be better off leaving the sport alone. Yet it’s my number one sport to follow, and I enjoy the challenge of finding winners. Certainly the market has moved against my style of tennis betting in the last couple of years. A favourite who I’d have backed at 1.15 three years ago is generally priced around 1.09 now, and I’ve moved to looking at higher risk opportunities above 1.4. Logically, I should be laying at 1.09, but it’s a big shift in mindset. Ever the optimist, I’ll compromise by writing off the clay court season, and try to put some time into researching form for the grass court and American hard court seasons ahead.

In the meantime I'll console myself that I've developed a fairly unique betting blog. Many blogs come and go when the task of winning is found to be harder than planned. Other blogs are written by the habitually successful. I've developed a fairly longstanding blog, yet have made bugger all for many months! The stubbornness of the Yorkshireman I suppose.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The 2010 'RTB' Awards

Following the huge success (umm) of my 2009 end of season thoughts, it's rapidly come around again to that time to choose my 2010 players of the domestic season. Same rules apply - those who've impacted on my impression of the season, and those who've exceeded expectations.

Wayne Rooney

Simply the outstanding player of the season ( domestic, not world, there was some lightweight Argentinian who also had a decent time ). I've little more to add to the plaudits already passed out, but still a worthy if unimaginative inclusion. Ronaldo was history, and 'Our Wayne' filled the void. Here's hoping he has something left in the tank for June.

Bobby Zamora

The season's most improved player. Around January, I started to think that I was seeing something that everyone else had missed, but by the season's end Fulham's journey to the Europa Cup final ensured that everyone who follows football could see the impact Zamora has had. Unfortunately, he had a sad end to the season with an achilles injury which stopped him performing effectively in Hamburg, and scuppered a probable training squad call-up from Fabio Capello. A talented goalscorer in his Brighton days, he never managed to put his whole game together regularly at West Ham or Tottenham, but it came together spectacularly this term. A target man with a superb first touch, a strong teamwork ethic and calmness in front of goal. What are you waiting for, Mr Wenger?

Graham Dorrans

Last year, I noted how Burnley's Chris Eagles had stood head and shoulders above his Championship opponents whenever I had seen him. I expected him to make a fair impact in the Premier League. He didn't. This year's 'head & shoulders' award goes to Dorrans, an attacking midfielder whose 13 goals pushed West Brom towards automatic promotion back to the Premier League. An unsung £250k purchase from Livingston, Dorrans ended his second season in England as a Scottish international, for whom West Ham ( if not their then manager, Zola ) were prepared to offer £4 million. I'll suggest that you keep an eye on Dorrans, although I'll not go as far as tipping success.

Andy Carroll

Maybe it's my age, but I occasionally reminisce about a time when footballers were real people, rather than astronomically paid automatons whose whole existence is controlled by dieticians, fitness coaches, media trainers, agents and business managers. Step forward, Andy Carroll, local hero. Old fashioned nightclub punch-ups - Carroll's your man. Teammates stepping out of line in training? Give 'em a whack! And despite his tendency to aim for the front rather than back page of the local rag, Carroll managed to score nineteen goals for his hometown club in Newcastle's promotion charge to the Premier League. Playing for a team where the number nine shirt will always be associated with Shearer, Milburn and MacDonald, Carroll's style is probably closer to another Newcastle front man, Duncan Ferguson. At 21, Carroll is a potential big improver - his style of player is often more effective at 30 than 20. He will have to make another big leap next season to be a success at the top level.

Frank Lampard

It was Chelsea's season. But it wasn't always straightforward. The major teams rely upon a solid core of top class players around which play revolves. As Liverpool found, when that core isn't in place, everything goes awry. Yet Chelsea found their previously indestructible skipper having a shocker of a season, and their goalkeeper regularly looked like his form and confidence had deserted him. Keeping it all together was Lampard. He scored twenty seven goals, including twenty two in the league, from midfield, performing consistently whilst the remaining midfield positions were chopped and changed due to injuries. I've always been on the red side of the 'Lampard/Gerrard' debate, but it was Frank's season.

Joe Hart

Chelsea won the title scoring 103 goals. Hull City and Portsmouth were relegated after scoring 34 each. Doesn't sound illogical. Yet Birmingham City scored 38 goals and finished in 9th place. They did this with a tight and well-drilled team, two excellent central defenders and the finest loan signing of the season, Joe Hart.

Hart was consistently outstanding, and leaves Manchester City with a difficult decision for 2010/11. Sam Allardyce had a big moan about the omission for Paul Robinson from the World Cup squad, but in my view Hart and James are the country's outstanding keepers, and Robert Green is Capello's current number one and has yet to let his country down. So who does Sam think Robinson should have replaced?

And the bozo award goes to :

Clarke Carlisle.

I noted Clarke's appearance on Channel 4's 'Countdown' here. Sadly, from that moment Burnley's season fell apart, as did Clarke's form for a short spell, including conceding two penalties in one game. He was dropped by Burnley manager Brian Laws shortly afterwards. In addition, his intellectual antics didn't go down too well with the Burnley fans when he had a dig at them on his personal blog after crowd trouble at the game versus Blackburn. Advice - stick to playing football, and stay quiet.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


Missed opportunity, or best avoided? I've never had much success with the Italian second division, but every year the end-of-season games throw up odds which suggest results are determined beforehand. So how should you react? Pile in with the crowd or lay the low odds in the hope that there is a rumour-led odds shift? In my case, keep away. But I'm still left with the feeling there was free money on offer.

Isn't it time for UEFA to start handing out a few big points deductions for this sort of thing? It seems to be accepted - 'Oh, it's the Italian way'. I've commented before on similar oddities in the Greek second division.
It's just not cricket.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Ups and Downs

So Leeds scraped into second place in League One, contrary to my prediction. It wasn’t an additional Leeds success that made the difference, but Millwall’s defeat at Tranmere in the penultimate round of games. So despite a loss at Charlton, Leeds were left with their fate in their own hands on Saturday. They still nearly blew it. I watched Sky Sports ‘Soccer Saturday’ throughout a tense afternoon, with no internet diversions to relieve my worries ( see below ). Jeff Stelling gave a great example of the footy fan’s Saturday life, going through the tortures of Hartlepool’s last-day battle for survival, as their fate was left in the hands of others ( Exeter and Gillingham ). Meanwhile, Leeds managed to concede a goal and have Max Gradel sent off before Jonny Howson and then the fan’s regular pantomime hero / villain, Jermaine Beckford, managed to bring home the necessary victory. Things went ok in the end for Jeff and for me, so a happy ending.

I will admit to never attending a League One game. The second relegation suffered by a team I had only recently watched in a European Cup semi-final was a step too far for me. I’ve preferred the occasional less stressful visit to Conference games at Burton. I didn’t attend one game this season, probably only the second time that has happened since my first visit to Elland Road in 1974. But I should be able to find a few Championship games worth a visit next season.

Down at the Pirelli stadium, Burton saw its first ever major incident of crowd trouble. I regularly struggle to understand the mentality of fans. Grimsby came into the final game of the season with their league survival dependent on others. Their travelling support must have known that they were probably about to be relegated. Their actions were indefensible. I hope they ( and Luton ) start next year’s Conference season on -20 points. I’m fed up with huge points deductions for financial failings and a slap on the wrist for crowd violence.

I pay a monthly sum way in excess of the market rate for internet access to AOL. I do this because, whilst hearing plenty of horror stories about others’ problems, my own line has been trouble free for many years. Last week, my speed dropped drastically, and I was forced to contact AOL to resolve the problem. This developed into a four hour three-way conversation between Lichfield ( me ), somewhere in India ( AOL ), and somewhere else in India ( Belkin ). Result – I’ve totally lost connection, and AOL and Belkin both assure me that the problem is the other’s. The whole experience was one of the most depressing I’ve encountered – I’m not tolerant of any situation where I feel helpless. I’ve today spent £80 on a new modem to resolve the issue. I shouldn’t have to, but if it works I will have avoided the stress of more helpline hell.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


Is the financial world pressing on your shoulders? Has the turmoil of the last two and a half years left you worried about the future? Does every viewing of Newsnight leave you fearful that everything may cave in around you?

Give a quick thought to Angelos Basinas. He’s just spent the last fifteen months playing at Portsmouth. Tempted by Tony Adams to give the Premier League a try, within hours of signing Adams had been dismissed. Within a couple of months the team’s owner, Alexandre Geydemak, had sold up to the first of three subsequent owners. You know the rest.

At least it will soon be all over for Angelos for another season. He can go home for a relaxing summer break. To Greece.

I can’t confirm reports that Basinas has sheltered his irregular Portsmouth salary payments from potential financial meltdown at home, by holding an account with the Kaupthing Bank in Iceland.

Monday, 3 May 2010

April - Quiet

Back home from London, in need of a quiet evening. The weekend didn’t quite go to plan. With crap weather forecast, the thought of two whole days tramping around Camden venues in the rain didn’t appeal to Mrs B, so I came up with an alternative itinerary involving Sunday at Camden Market and around Brick Lane, and Saturday evening at the Half Moon in Putney to see the ‘semi-legendary’ John Otway, self-styled ‘Rock n’ Roll’s Greatest Failure’. A good show in front of a packed house of Otway fans, with highlight’s including the 57 year old Otway stage-diving off a step ladder.

So a delayed April review, and a short one, on the basis there’s not much new to say. I finished at (£16) for the month, having been in profit around £250 at one point. I succeeded in spending less time on Betfair, with a reduction in the feelings of frustration that have plagued my year. But obviously a red month meant a failure in my aim to increase my betting bank. I think I needed a break from the intensity and pressure that had built up through a difficult couple of months, and I’m left with a fairly positive state of mind at the end of the month, so some success, if not in monetary terms.

I only had four losing days in the month ( three being substantial ), two involved chasing with stakes way too high, and the other a worthy punt that didn’t come off. I ended in profit on all sports apart from horse racing. I’m going to stick with racing for a little while longer, as the losses were chases rather than fair bets. But racing remains the sport most likely to cause me to chase, simply because there’s always an opportunity to recover almost immediately after the loss. I finished last month’s review with a point about mental strength, and I suppose that’s the overriding issue above all my other tweaks and adjustments. I can grumble about a small bank, but there’s a straightforward answer. And frustration is part of betting, not an excuse for blowing away my profits. Patience and discipline remain my foe. I’ve read a few blog posts about the journey through betting, which ultimately leads to success. They suggest that you can tick off each stage of the process, and move forward to the next. My own progress has been a lumpier journey, but maybe I’m just more determined and more optimistic than those that fail once they can no longer move forward a level.

There is an alternative answer – I’m destined never to make consistent profit. So maybe it’s no bad thing that I keep a small bank.

I’d like to finish on a positive note, but my first short session of the month on Betfair ended in a loss. An avoidable one - I’m too tired to bet today, so I’ve closed Betfair and will hopefully return tomorrow with a good mindset. At least I offer an alternative to those bloggers piling in the cash at the moment.