Marinho Meanders

To bet or not to bet – is that the question?

This week feels like the right week to reveal something I’ve been following with particular interest this season. Beyond my obvious interest in Birmingham City (which once again looks to have provided a desolate season salvaged by the appointment of a new manager) and the top flight of English football, I’ve been keeping a keen eye on Shrewsbury Town. “Why would you do such a thing?” I hear you shout from the rafters. Well, before the turn of the 2017/18 football league season I saw something that inspired me to put my first ever bet on.

It was a dark, wet afternoon in July, and I was working a shift in a small music shop (trust me, this story will eventually go somewhere). At 3pm, as the influx of customers fizzled out, the shop manager (an avid Wolves fan, i should add) decided to get a pre-season stream up on the till. Who was it that this Wolves side – fresh from acquiring Portuguese starlet Ruben Neves – were lining up against? I mean it’s fairly obvious at this point that it was Shrewsbury Town, due to the information provided in paragraph one clearly stating that the premise of this column is an explanation as to some sort of betting incident involving the Shrews. Anyhow, *spoiler alert*, it was Shrewsbury.

What I saw that day, (from behind the till and between sales of guitar strings and “Take That”-themed wooden spoons) was an outclassing of an apparently superior Wolves side by the humble Shrews. Not only did they win 2-0, but they completely outclassed a Championship outfit seemingly destined for promotion. Curious as to whether this Shrewsbury side were tipped for promotion themselves, I decided to do some (very simple) market research, leading me to the conclusion that they were, in fact, least-favourite to go up. This is it, I thought, this will be my first “punt”, and so I put a humble £5 on Shrewsbury Town to get promoted.

For those of you that follow League One I won’t go into details of the season, but currently, on April 27th, 8 months on from my first ever bet, Shrewsbury Town will finish 3rd. I’ll be honest, I have mixed emotions. Automatic promotion would have guaranteed me £170 and gloating rights over a genius punt, however, 3rd place opens a new door; a door I hadn’t even considered pre-bet. The play-offs.

And so I find myself, a man with absolutely no affiliation to Shrewsbury Town whatsoever, completely engulfed in the drama of the League One play-offs. Will I try to get tickets for both legs against Charlton/Scunthorpe/Plymouth or whoever manages to secure 6th place? Absolutely. If they get to the final, will I be blowing whatever potential winnings I might make on a trip to Wembley? You can bet on it.