FIRST of all, I need to get something off my chest. It’s been a couple of weeks since my last entry, and a lot has happened in that time. Last week, I took advantage of the international break to make a sporting pilgrimage to New York to take in the opening night of the NFL, the MLB and the US Open (including the woman’s semi-finals and men’s final). What struck me the most was the difference between my experience there with my experiences from going to games the SFL. Some of the most pleasant aspects about the trip to America included:
- Free parking at the arenas
- Facilities open hours before the event itself for families to have a BBQ and drinks in a completely social and non-threatening environment
- A wide variety of food and drink available for general sale, including the inevitable hot dogs and burgers (and there were even some healthy alternatives!)
- Friendly stewards
- The opportunity to listen to both the manager and players being interviewed after the match
On the whole, there was a significant effort to maximise the enjoyability of the supporter’s experience. This was a significant contrast to watching football in Scotland – let’s compare that to the past weekend at Livingston:
- Countless roundabouts on the way to the stadium and very few signs actually directing supporters to the ground
- Parking charges of £3
- £17 to get into the game
- A “meal deal” costing £6.50. It included a hot dog, packet of cheap crisps and a cup of draught cola – but the coke machine was broken, the pies were sold out 25 minutes before kick-off and all that was left were Capri-Suns and Boosts
There was nothing about the experience, from the approach to the park to the undersized seating, that was in any way pleasurable. If directors of clubs in the First Division wonder why crowds are low, there is more to it than just the recession. The quality of football is as good as it has been for years; the main reason for non-attendance must be because it’s expensive, uncomfortable and the catering is poor.
Anyway. Back to gambling.
My favourite team to bet on at the moment is Ayr United. Until now, they’ve been vastly overrated by the bookmarkers, while every one of their opponents have been over-priced. This means I’ve bet against Ayr every week. Regrettably, by the time I attempted to bet Queen of the South, the price had crashed from an early 7/5 to around even money. Even that was a good price in hindsight, but I left it on the principle if I can’t get the price I want, I’ll let it go. Even as Queens coasted to a 4-2 win, everything has a price – sometimes you’ve got to let the team win without putting your money down.
East Stirlingshire are another team I liked at the weekend, simply because I don’t rate Stirling Albion. The Shire seem to suffer from their reputation of consistently finishing bottom of the league, so both punters and bookies tend to write them off (remember – judge a team without seeing them play at your peril!). Every team has a price and at 7/2, the Shire were worth backing. Due to dallying, I missed the early price and decided not to bet – even at 5/2 there could have been a good profit… But it wasn’t to be.
As a result, the only two bets made last week were Hamilton and Stranraer (both draw no bet). Stranraer’s late defeat to a goal by Albion Rovers’ loanee Mark McGuigan lost that particular bet for me, while Hamilton played out a 1-1 draw at Falkirk, who I thought would struggle against forward Stevie May.
In the end, I lost a few quid. Despite picking out two good priced winners but choosing not to back them, I was left with one bet which returned the stake, and another that fell through. That tells me that my judgement is generally sound, but I need to be more decisive.
If you have any particular questions or topics you would like David to cover, contact him via Twitter at @sflpunter.