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Monday

IAN McMILLAN ON FOOTBALL - PART 2

Ian McMillan may be a little sad today. If you see him as he travels the UK by train, be sure to sympathise with him on the relegation to League 1 of his home town football team. Barnsley.
The poet has been asked to write a poem following the relegation of his Barnsley team to League 1.

The poet can recall the days when it was all very different. When Barnsley beat the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham.
He recalls that season in the Premier League when watching Barnsley "was just like watching Brazil."

Ian McMillan has seen good times and bad at Oakwell. He says that the club has had players who bordered on being poetic on the pitch.

In part 1 we learned he was not a fan of the pies on sale at football grounds. In part 2 I ask if he is a betting man. Has he ever had a punt on a Barnsley game?

Interviewed in November of 2013 he said then that he hoped Barnsley would remain a Championship club. Sadly, it was not to be.

But they may well bounce back next year.
Either way, the so called 'Bard of Barnsley' will be soaking up the match atmosphere when he can. He relishes how the English language is used on the terraces and admires the wit he hears from his fellow Barnsley fans.

Here is the second half of our fun filled interview. 

Thursday

IAN McMILLAN, THE BARD OF BARNSLEY, TALKS PIES, PEAS, ONION BAGS AND POETRY OF FOOTBALL

He's a Barnsley fan. He's a poet. But not just any poet. Ian McMillan is the 'Bard of Barnsley.'

Barring a miracle, his team faces relegation this season. No doubt he will use words to express his dismay.

A clever man who cherishes the English language, he talks to me about his early days going to football. About how he comes to support Barnsley. He reveals which fans are the so called 'dee daars' and which the 'dingles.'

Do poets eat pies? Where on the pitch is the onion bag? And what is so special about the language heard at a football match.

This is the first half of my interview with Ian McMillan. Enjoy! 

SENNOCKIAN STAR HAS VG TIPS MEMBERS LAUGHING!

It is a fact that bookmakers sometimes get the odds wrong.
Thankfully, for members of VG TIPS, they did just that on Wednesday when they priced Sennockian Star at odds of 15/1.
Here is what I told members who pay just £10 a month for unlimited racing selections and football tips.
"Sennockian Star is slipping back down the handicap and is better off today against Clayton which beat him at Pontefract earlier this month. Clayton won by over 5 lengths that day. Sennockian Star is 5 pounds better off this time around."
Sure enough, Sennockian Star won and Clayton finished behind him in second place.
Sennockian Star had won for us in the past, which always breeds confidence. The gelding is only four years of age but has plenty of experience and I know he is a favourite of those who work at the Mark Johnston stable in North Yorkshire. The gelding (pictured above by Bill Tait) will be laughing all the more this morning!
I selected Sennockian Star for members for several reasons. Only one of which was the generous price. He was 15/1 when I got on and was widely available at 14/1. I even read of some punters who were on at 18/1. Well done to all members who made profit on Sennockian Star.
As is the case with the other nice priced winner on Wednesday.
Chatez was another one I felt confident about on the day. When members received their daily e-mail that one was available at odds of 6/1 with Coral.
Here is what members received from me re Chatez - both via e-mail and in their own members' enclosure.
"In Chatez Alan King looks to have a promising gelding. Beaten a neck by Observational last October, Observational went on to be beaten by a head in a higher class race by Sudden Wonder. Both Observational and Sudden Wonder are entered in the Derby. For those reasons, I side with Chatez to land this race."
Some non runners in each race meant that there was a 'Rule 4' imposed on our returns. Nevertheless, some very welcome profit was made on Wednesday.
It's been a tough winter for punters and I am glad the flat season is back. We don't get good meetings like the one at Epsom every day, sadly, but there is some top class racing coming soon, beginning with Sandown on Friday.

Give VG TIPS a try by signing up before then. You can do so on the right hand side of this page. That way you will join the other members who regularly receive racing analysis, selections and football tips.

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?