THERE’S nothing worse than seeing your bet crash before you’ve even had a run for your money.
I recall having backed Peter Beardsley for the first goal in the dim and distant past. And when a penalty was awarded just 60 seconds into the match, the winnings were already being counted out.
But no sooner had I sat down in my seat having told friends of my impending windfall, than the ball was whizzing past my head as the former Liverpool and Everton striker skied the spot-kick and then failed to register first despite having 80-odd minutes to rectify his error.
Sympathy wasn’t forthcoming from those around me.
There was, though, plenty of sympathy for backers of King Johns Castle – runner-up the previous year – when he refused to race in the 2010 John Smith’s Grand National. And some bookmakers even gave punters their money back despite him coming under starters orders.
There are plenty of tales of horses failing to leave the stalls or falling at the first and athletes pulling up in agony before the race or the match has begun in earnest. And with it punters’ hard-earned cash stays firmly in the bookmakers satchels.
But tomorrow night at Wembley an early pay-out may be on the cards.
The last time England faced San Marino at Wembley it ended in a comfortable 6-0 win – even Carlton Palmer managed to find the net.
But it was the last time the two sides met when an early goal ended any hopes of England heading to USA 94 for the World Cup and with it thousands of bets.
San Marino had scored just two international goals prior to November 17, 1993 and many people would have backed England to win to nil and rack up the goals needed to book their visas for the American dream.
Just 8.3 seconds into the match Davide Gualtieri – a name that is more quiz question than world-renowned footballer – pounced on a slack Stuart Pearce backpass. And before anyone had got comfortable in their seats inside the stadium or back in England, the ball was nestling in the back of the net via the fastest goal in World Cup competition history.
On Friday night an early goal – for Roy Hodgson’s England obviously – is a real possibility and although the 4-6 with BlueSquare that the first goal will be scored in the first 15 is hardly going to make you rich it looks one of the most sure-fire bets you can get.
Who will score the opener is a bit trickier.
It is hard to know who Roy Hodgson will pick in the attacking positions. But whoever he goes with, whether it’s Danny Welbeck (5-2 BetVictor), Wayne Rooney (5-2 Bet Victor) or Jermain Defoe (10-3 Bet Victor), they will all be salivating at the prospect of facing a defensive unit that has conceded 29 goals in their last five games, including an 11-0 defeat to Holland in a Euro 2012 qualifier in September last year.
The in-form Defoe looks the most likely to get the ball rolling – if he gets the nod to start.
At 1-100 England are not worth backing, obviously, but the correct score market will no doubt be lively. It is rare that a 1-0 victory is 40-1 but with San Marino’s record it is understandable. England are 40-1 with Ladbrokes and bet365 to match the Dutch’s 11-0 triumph.
But another 6-0 win (13-2 Bet Victor) may be the most likely.