It’s Not What You Know…… first time bookmaker
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]o sooner than I had turned 18, I wanted to make a book at a dog track, it was 1958.
At that time my father was betting at Wembley, Wimbledon and White City.
My father said not yet , you need to have some experience first.
Where am I going to get that, I replied.
He said, see if you can get a pitch at another track, somewhere that you will be on your own, even a flapping track (a track where anybody can take their dogs under assumed names). At times you had the fastest dogs in the country but only certain people knew who they were. You needed to find out the hard way.
I applied to all the dog tracks in the south, the answer was always the same , not at the moment , we will put you on the waiting list.
Even today the tracks that are still around I must be on their waiting list as none of them ever came back to me.
I asked everyone I knew if they could help me.
One day ‘mad’ Sammy Tapper (he got the prefix because of the way he drove his licensed taxi – he would be driving along when all of a sudden he would start singing and in a flash he would take the steering wheel off and put in back on the column. He started and finished before you had time to think) came to me and said that he had heard I wanted to make a book.
Yes I said.
Ok, we will start at Rayleigh (a flapping track) on Saturday night, the first race is about 10-15 he said.
Most of the punters and bookmakers came on from Southend , not that far away, I think the last race there was 9.15 or 9.30.
Racing at Rayleigh had to finish before midnight. (Sunday laws).
Sam, how can we get a pitch their?
Tom Stanley, the owner and I were in the same regiment during the war. He would do anything for me and I would do likewise for him.
Saturday arrives and off we go to Rayleigh, in Sammy’s taxi. Also with us were Tony (Sam’s brother) who was the clerk.
We parked the cab and started to walk towards the entrance where I stepped on a pile of dog s***, the owners of the greyhounds also parked their vehicles their and walked the dogs, I said it was a lucky omen.
On entering, Sam went to find Tom Stanley, after a couple of minutes Sam returns with Tom, after being introduced, he said to me, where would you like to bet, where do the others bookmakers bet I replied , over there he said pointing.
Well, me with my great knowledge, surveyed the track. Can I bet there, pointing to the winning line, it was about three yards away from the other bookmakers. Anywhere you want, was the reply.
The first race comes along three bookmakers turn up , I remember two of their names, Bennie Berger, Joe (Yiddles) Silver, if anybody can remember the other one, please let me know.
Well after the first two races had taken place, I realised that it was not the best position after all,I had not taken a bet.
What should I do I asked Sam.
Anywhere you want
I really would like to go in-between Silver and Berger. No problem said Sammy as he was picking up the tools.
Sam asked Joe and Benny if they would mind moving so I could go between them, sure whatever you want they both replied.
Two races went by, I fielded £7 on one and £10 on the other keeping the lot. Yiddles started to talk to me, knowing that this was the first time I had bet. Let me teach you a thing or two, he said, Yiddles became my first mentor on a dog track.
Another race went by, I can’t remember how much I took. I broke even on the race,when Yiddles said to me, this could be the race.
The race, what do you mean.
Well if the dog drawn in trap six is who it is supposed to be, it will come out of the traps last, by the time it gets to the first bend, it will be six lengths in front, when they come round the second bend, it will six lengths behind, by the time it gets to the third bend it will be six lengths in front , when they come round the last bend, it will be six lengths behind, by the time it gets to the winning line it will six lengths in front.
Pull my other leg I thought.
Ok how will we know ?
If the doctor makes a move ,wipe all of the prices off.
The doctor and his brother were of Asian descent (anyone remember them). They were well known on dog tracks, their speciality was Open racing. I think they had dogs with all the top trainers and were told when dogs were fancied.
I marked up the prices ,the same as the other bookmakers,all the dogs were even money, out the corner of my eye, I saw the brothers move forward to have a bet. I scrubbed my board in a flash, sure enough they backed the six dog , now i am getting good at this game, I made up my mind that unless someone has a bet on another dog Ii will not put up a price for the six dog. Ok, a little old lady has a £2 bet on the two dog, the next bet was £5 on the four dog , the next bet was £1 on the five,here we go, i will put the price of 1/2 the six dog ,sure enough the doctor appears and said £200 the trap six.
Em ,emm, emm, it’s different from er,er,err,, i said you can have fifty to win twenty five.
Thank you, he said.
It was exactly as Yiddles had said. I think they had the dog on a piece of string. I went for another four to five weeks before realising I could earn more at White City on a Saturday night ,without all the hassle.
I had bet on 2 races without taking a bet.
I had bet on 2 races winning £17.
I had bet on 1 race breaking level .
I had lost on 1 race losing £17, so after 6 races I was level.
Does anybody want to buy a business?
On the last 2 races I won £15, we all got a fiver each, I got into bed at 2am. I loved every minute of it.