I am a gambler,” Harry Findlay says as if, after talking for three hours, the stark truth needs to be heard again. “If I had £1,000 left and there was a two‑dog race at the bottom of my road and I didn’t know the form, but Authentic Brad Nortman Womens Jersey I could get almost evens on both dogs, I’d put £500 on it. So I’m a bloody gambler. That ain’t changing.”On his front room sofa in Axminster, Devon, Harry the Dog, who knows what it is like to lose a £2.5m bet, rallies his fellow hustlers. “If there’s a message I could pass on, it would be to all those who’ve dedicated their life to gambling and sport. Maybe they’re thinking about family and reflecting: ‘Perhaps all this gambling wasn’t such a good idea?’”
The 55-year-old pauses, as if considering a fleeting doubt, and then says: “Don’t fucking believe it. You’ve done the right thing being a punter. You’re a better person for it. We all know money can’t buy happiness but gambling is about much more than just money.”Every day of Findlay’s adult life, apart from the darkest times, he has watched sport and gambled on it for a living. He has met his sporting heroes – from Roger Federer and Martina http://www.jaguarsofficialshop.com/authentic-brad-nortman-jersey.html Navratilova to Lester Piggott and Jimmy White – and won more than £20m while gambling on games and races that enthralled him. Findlay has now written a book with Neil Harman, the former tennis correspondent for The Times, which captures his biggest victories and surreal scrapes. But there is a seriousness at the book’s heart, for, beyond opening with a quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, it uncovers Findlay’s consuming defeats and depression.
It echoes my conversation with Findlay’s wife, Kay, who has been with him for 28 years. Kay has enjoyed the good times but she offers a sobering view of her husband’s heartache. Other people have hurt him but gambling underpins everything. His woes are a reminder that this addiction ruins lives.“Absolutely,” Findlay says. “But I’m a Dostoevskyite and there is no choice. You do it all the way.”Findlay’s reckless streak came to a head in 2007 when he wagered £2.5m on New Zealand to win the Rugby World Cup. He booked a box at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to watch them romp home in a quarter-final. Findlay only felt a quiver when he realised France were the unpredictable opposition.
At half-time, with New Zealand leading 13-3, Findlay called for more champagne. He loved the All Blacks and his huge gamble was driven by emotion – and a desire to lessen Authentic Ricky Vaughn Youth Jersey his stress by securing a windfall that would look after Kay, himself and their daughters for years. “When you’re 50 you have to become healthier. So I wanted to take the stress away.”Dread churned inside Findlay when France were 18-13 down. They then scored a try from a forward pass allowed by the referee, Wayne Barnes. France led 20-18 and two million pounds were torched. “Wayne Barnes?” Harry the Dog barks. “I hated him like a Kiwi for a long time. But I watched Barnes do a game this year and I’d never seen refereeing like it. He was great.”
Findlay does not harbour a grudge, but the last 10 minutes of that game must have been agony? “They were. It was a big fuck-up – but these things happen.”Twelve years ago Findlay could shrug off catastrophe but many of his non-gambling friends were wounded. The most upsetting was the fate of Charlie – Findlay’s former gardener. Charlie the Gardener was not a betting man but one morning, having listened to Findlay for weeks, he left an ice-cream tub on the gambler’s desk. Findlay opened it and found £28,000 “in ice-cold cash”. Charlie had handed over http://www.authenticclevelandindians.com/Roberto-Perez-Jersey his life-savings for an All Black punt.
Findlay writes of “a different kind of pain … the numbing realisation that I’d cost a lot of other people money.” How did Charlie take the devastating result? “Like a total man,” Findlay says casually. “And he had his last £1,000 on South Africa [the eventual winners] as a saver and got some money back. Charlie was really philosophical.”Findlay backed New Zealand again four years later – betting £230,000 [60% of his wealth at the time] to win £210,000. In the 2011 final they played France again and were rocking for the last 30 minutes, clinging to an 8-7 lead. “I remember going to a steam bath afterwards. I sat for 40 minutes in the steam thinking: ‘Fucking hell. One penalty and I’d have lost 200 grand and a big chunk of my wealth.’