Gambling With Lives: My Worst Goal
Words from James Grimes from Gambling with lives.
21st February 2009 was the day I received my first completely free £700 bursary from Sheffield Hallam University. Since returning to Sheffield from being home at Christmas, I had lost all my student loan, maintenance grant, part time employment earnings and everything borrowed from friends and family. It all went on football betting, it really hadn't been my month.
I had spent the previous week searching for pennies in the underpasses so I could get 15p instant noodles from the local shop, it was that desperate. If I wasn't tipping the sofa for rogue 2p pieces, I was on Ladbrokes live chat begging for a free bet or bonus, to no avail.
I had promised myself that upon receiving this £700 I was going to budget properly and get back on the straight and narrow. Earlier in the day, I had lost £200 of it on various in-play football bets. My warped perception of money, encouraged by relentless gambling advertising and offers in football, convinced the logical part of my brain that to recoup this loss, I should stake the rest of the bursary on one more game.
It got to the late 5.30pm kick-off in the Premier League. It happened to be a ruthless, title bound Manchester United with Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez playing host to Blackburn Rovers who are out-of-form and struggling against relegation. Without any checks of affordability by the operator, I deposited £500 on Ladbrokes and put it all on Manchester United to win to nil, meaning a Blackburn goal would see me lose all of my £700 bursary after receiving it five hours prior.
Just after 30 minutes, a rare half-hearted tackle by Paul Scholes let Blackburn play a ball in behind, where the nomadic Paraguyan Roque Santa Cruz rounded Kuszczak. Time seemed to stand still, as did my heart, as Santa Cruz neatly finished from a tricky angle. Praying for an offside flag, a foul, a mistake or a betting error was all in vain. I had lost all of my money again. An 18 year old student, living away from home, out of control of my own actions, unable to watch the sport I loved without risking it all. It was a dark day.