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Thursday

MEET GEOFF BANKS, BOOKIE. PART 3 (of 3)

In part 3 of my series of detailed and frank interviews with independent bookmaker Geoff Banks, he questions the editorial policy of the trade newspaper, the Racing Post.
Geoff also offers up his view on the Godolphin doping scandal. Who knew what?

Would he move his business to Gibraltar and how would he solve the historic wrangle between Britain and Spain over the 'Rock.'

Parts 1 and 2 of my chats with Geoff are also available on Vimeo.
If you enjoy the video, feel free to leave a small tip in my tip jar.

And if you want to learn how to become a profitable punter, as I have been year on year since 1998, then sign up to http://www.vgtips.co.uk
Join VG TIPS and learn how to do likewise.
It's the home of profitable punting at which members paying only £10 per month receive regular and unlimited betting tips on horse racing and football taking place in the UK. 

Wednesday

LEE BULLEN - HAVE BOOTS, WILL TRAVEL

Lee Bullen is one of the more impressive football people I have met in recent times.
I've been around the footballing world so long now that I lean towards being cynical about those who work in the sport.
It's not difficult when so many players care more about cars and cash. When they kiss the shirt of their club one week, while at the same time negotiating a lucrative deal at the club they are joining the following week.

But you could never accuse Lee Bullen of that.
His autobiography, entitled 'No Bull' does what it say on the cover. A straight talking man telling his story in a frank and fascinating manner.

It is the story of a footballer who travelled far and wide just to play the game. From Scotland to Sheffield via Greece, Australia and Hong Kong.

The likes of Lee Bullen never earned a fortune. Not when set against modern day footballer salaries.
He just wanted to play the game, wherever that took him. He had boots, he would travel.

He was there when Paul Gascoigne and the England team of 1996 spent a night in the so called dentists chair. Find out how by watching my interview with Lee.

Sheffield Wednesday fans will want to hear about the highlight of his playing career. The League 1 play off between Wednesday and Hartlepool.

Lee Bullen is now a coach at Hillsborough.
On talking to him he struck meet as a natural man motivator. The type to bolster players confidence before they leave the dressing room for the pitch.

So it came as no surprise to me that the fortunes of the Owls turned around when Stuart Gray and Lee Bullen took over from the deposed manager, Dave Jones.

Suddenly, the same set of players I saw perform so badly in a home defeat against Huddersfield (on the same day as this interview took place), were transformed into players who could pass the ball to each other. And win football matches.

You do not have to support any of the clubs Lee Bullen played for to find what he has to say interesting. Watch my interview and buy his book.

MEET GEOFF BANKS, BOOKIE. PART 2 (of 3)

The UK government announced in their Budget of 2014 that the dreaded Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBT's), that are now so prevalent in bookmaker shops up and down the country, would be taxed at a higher rate.
These noisy, money making machines bring in huge income to the coffers of the big bookies. Indeed, the doors to many a High Street bookmaker shop would close were it not for people sitting for hours playing these 'designed for losers' monstrosities.

The offshore based bookies make a fortune from FOBT's, so a hike in tax to a rate of 25% will not see an end to the machines, but it will bring in some tidy revenue to HM Treasury. That's what the politicians are banking on.

In the hours after the announcement the share price in companies such as Ladbrokes and William Hill fell sharply.

Independent bookies ply their trade on an uneven playing field. So the news today is likely to please the men and women who still offer their services on racetracks. A dying breed.

Geoff Banks is one such independent and charismatic bookmaker. He should be. After all, his father was John Banks was one of the most famous faces of the turf in the history of bookmaking.

In this interview, conducted late in November 2013, I ask Geoff if it was inevitable that he followed on in his father's footsteps.

In part 2 of our frank conversation about the state of racing, and betting, Geoff opens punters eyes as to who is behind the drive for yet more racing fixtures. And why there are so many small field races now.

Can a racecourse survive without spectators? How much do independent bookies pay to pitch up at a racecourse? Do the tax breaks offered to the big companies (many of which are located in Gibraltar) give them a big advantage over the one man bookie?

And what is the point of those horrible FOBT's?

What is his plan to improve the sport of horse racing?

MEET MARK HALSEY

Love or loathe them, do we football fans understand the pressures placed on match referees?

Not just from us, or the media. But what about the pressure they are under from their bosses?

When I read 'Added Time' by Mark Halsey I was struck by the number of 'line managers' who manage referees.

One of them who, according to Halsey, wields lots of powers was a name I had never heard of. So I searched Google for an image of the man.
Nothing!
Who are these faceless people that decide which referee will take charge of the match involving your club?

We all know Mike Riley. He was once a ref himself, and one not liked by many managers and players. Now it seems that he rules other refs with an iron fist.

Halsey's book lifts the lid on refereeing and he also writes openly about his personal batter with cancer.

I sat down with Mark Halsey in November 2013. Here's my interview with him. 

"JIMMY GREAVES WAS NOT DROPPED FOR THE 1966 WORLD CUP FINAL"


Belated birthday greetings to one of the best footballers I saw play.
Jimmy Greaves was 74 a few days ago.
For my generation he'll always be that 'Bobby Dazzler' of a player, jinking his way past defenders and scoring goals in a very clinical fashion.

I consider myself fortunate to have seen him play and I recall being dismayed when Alf Ramsey didn't play him in the World Cup final of 1966. He and Alan Ball were my favourite England players of the time.
How could he drop Jimmy? Or did he?

His long time friend Norman Giller spoke to me at length in November of 2013. We chatted about footballers past and present. Norman spent a few minutes in the England dressing room after the glorious win.

In this short interview he reveals the true story about why Geoff Hurst played against West Germany and Jimmy Greaves, dressed in his suit, watched the final from the sidelines.

I am sometimes asked for my favourite football autobiography of all time.
That's an easy one for me.
Norman Giller and Jimmy Greaves worked together on 'This One's On Me' - the revealing story of Greavsie and his battle with booze.
Published in the late 1970's, if you see a copy at a charity shop or car boot sale, buy it!