Gamblers Twist in the Tail
It was 1956 and after landing the job of chain lad with Sir Lindsay Parkinsons (Outcrop Contractors) at their site at Park Lane. Our mystery friend found that apart from toting the tripod and assisting the surveyor, probably the most important part of the job was cycling into the village each day for the buns from Radcliffe’s shop and also placing the bets. Good business for both bookies – Hodgsons and Harry Hawkins, and he shared it out equitably.
One or two of us with nothing better to do latched on to helping with the errands. Round about that time the Miners Welfare had a TV and games prefab erected for their retired members, here you could switch on the racing and watch the winners and then call round to pick up the winnings. Mind, you couldn’t be late at Harry Hawkins’ shed, Harry didn’t have a ticker tape and took his results over the phone. It didn’t take long to figure out the possibility of watching a certainty head for the winning post, say 2 furlongs out then racing round with all the bets including a small bet on the immediate race.
So that’s what we did, and it worked, trouble was our hero had an attack of conscience and had to ask another to collect the winnings. A second tilt on another day produced a horse that could not maintain its first place, then a selection the following week to back a horse to lose just to add authenticity saw the horse overtake all and come in first at good odds. Another attack of conscience and he decided that was enough.
In conversation with Harry Hawkins many years later I confided to him our misdemeanour, to which he replied ‘ Oh, I knew what was going on all along’ he added, ‘ I was only too pleased to be getting the business’ the twist was when he said that ‘ ***** could have had a small bet each week if he wanted, the business was too good to miss’