At my most recent Problem Gambling Support Group meeting via Skype (the same one posted on here weekly) it was my turn to do a therapy session. This is my journey from starting gambling until now. I thought it would be worth sharing here as someone may get something from it. It is a bit of a long read. My name is Mark and i’m a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. The day of April 2nd was a massive turning point in my life, it was the day I finally admitted to my long term partner, who is the mother of my two children, and to my parents that I was a compulsive gambler and needed help. The weekend prior was when I finally said to myself I’ve had enough, I had been betting for 14 years and it had beaten me so badly that I was a mess mentally and financially. Although no one knew that because I was an expert at hiding it. I started gambling like almost anyone in the UK or Ireland, The Grand National. The one day of the year where it seems like every man, woman and child has a bet on. The biggest horse race in the world. That and those glorious holidays spent in Portrush playing the 2p machines (penny fall machines). I don’t for one second blame those experiences for my gambling problem, they are just my first memories of gambling. One really vivid memory I have of gambling was when I was begging my dad for the latest Official Playstation Magazine, the one with the demo disc, and he was just sitting down to watch England play against someone and said to me “if Paul Scholes scores the first goal I will get you the magazine.” Now, I know for a fact win or lose my Dad would have gotten me the magazine, he just said that so I would give him peace to watch the match. Well I remember watching the game with him hoping with all my might Paul Scholes would score 1st and he did. That adrenaline rush, even at a young age (I was 13 years old at most I would say) was unbelievable. Now, again, I am not blaming that for my gambling addiction at all, it is just one of my first vivid memories but that mentality of gambling to get something I want for free would be a regular pattern throughout my gambling career. Once I turned 18 I opened my first betting account with Blue Sq and that started my online sports gambling journey. Friday nights were spent betting on Wolverhampton all weather horse racing and the Dutch and French 2nd Divisions. All harmless fun, controlled gambling, small stakes. I was still working part time at this stage, left school that summer and gambling was not in the way. Once I got my full time job though that all changed. The first time I could put my finger on when my gambling changed was the first day of the 2008/2009 football season. I’d been working full time for about 3 years and my gambling was still under control, well, at least I thought it was. My stakes were still low and I was doing football bets at the weekend for a bit of fun. I gambled, but it wasn’t causing me any issues. That Friday I walked into a Paddy Power and decided instead of placing a load of stupid football bets for £1 or £2 I’d pick three teams for the season and do a £20 treble each week. Sheffield United, Leicester City and Leeds United were the picks. Of course, the first weekend it landed (the only time it landed all season I think) and my betting changed from that moment. I genuinely can’t remember the odds but I must have lifted over £100 from that £20 stake and after that staking £1 or £2 just wasn’t appealing. What was the point in that when I could stake £20 and win more. From that moment my gambling started to get out of control over time. Then came the loans, the credit cards and the payday loans. At some point around this time I had opened a spread betting account due to a sign up offer. Now I did not have the first clue about spread betting but the offer was they gave you a free £100 or something to sign up so I did. I was still living at home at the time and we had one computer which everyone used. Well my Dad stumbled upon this website and was able to access the account (he’s not technically minded so I imagine I left it logged in) and he seen the betting history and he went mental at me. Now, I did explain that it was just bonus funds and I hadn’t actually deposited any of my own money but still the lecture came. It felt like a lecture at the time to me but he was just warning me of the dangers of gambling. Giving me examples of people he knew who had a problem and how easy it is for a gambling problem to begin. So I can never turn around and say that I wasn’t aware of the dangers, I was, my ego was just too big to listen. I paid lip service to the lecture and said I wouldn’t do it again and my Dad took me at my word and trusted me. So, I knew early on I had a problem. I self excluded from places over the years but never really wanted to quit. I was getting in debt but was able to continue with my lifestyle as I was living at home. I remember one day going to a cheque cashing place where I could write a cheque for £100, dated on my next payday, and they’d give me £90 there and then. I did two cheques for going out that weekend (and a couple of bets on the Aintree Festival) walked straight to the bookies and had the £180 on Denman to win the Aintree Bowl at even money. Denman was a monster of a horse, a machine. He could not lose...then he suffered the first fall of his career. Back I went to the cheque cashing place for another £90 so I could still go out that weekend. I wasn’t learning from my betting mistakes either as I was just borrowing more money to cover the cracks. I got a few debt consolidating loans over the early years to try and get a handle on my debt but it just gave me an excuse to take out more credit. The payday loans which I used to either gamble or cover my expenses for going out because I used all my money gambling. I would borrow money off my Dad and give him the puppy dog eyes when I paid it back and normally he’d only take half of what I owed him. He thought he was doing the right thing and he wanted me to have money to be able to go out with friends, I was just manipulating the situation. I moved out and into my friends house for a year and the gambling continued, although I had less money to gamble with. My credit rating was taking a battering but I was young and didn’t really care. Then I met my current girlfriend in February 2010 and we moved in together that September. The gambling continued and was getting worse. I made the smart move to get a second job to supplement my gambling…...at a greyhound track. I’d be earning about £20 a night but gambling £60 or £80. Insanity. We had our first child in April 2012 and not long after she found out I’d be gambling some of the money we’d saved. It wasn’t a lot of money, but she was pissed (rightfully so). I managed to talk my way out of it and that was when I became really good at hiding things. She took control of the rent money and any money for our son so that was never in danger thankfully. We had our daughter in 2016 but the gambling still continued. It may seem like I have glossed over an important period of time there but the truth is I can’t really remember any of the details. The only details I am able to recall with any great clarity are coming up but I just want to touch on a couple of things from this period. This was a time when I had the biggest wins of my gambling career, two separate occasions. One was an insane run of luck where I couldn’t lose all weekend and ended up with enough money for me, my partner and our Son to have our first and only foreign holiday. Another time I had a £5 free bet and landed a treble at Sandown, all Gary Moore horses and won £3.5k. That money went towards decorating the nursery for my soon to be born Daughter, my partner got money, my Mum and Dad and her Mum and Dad. I bought a PS4 and gambled the rest from memory. The two reasons these moments stick in my head isn’t just the amounts, it’s the only time I walked away in profit, at least for the sessions in question and the reason is that I told my partner I had won the money. That was the only way I knew I wouldn’t gamble it all away because she would ask questions if the money I promised didn’t materialise. Another part of this time period I want to explore is how I was emotionally. I was 25 when we had our Son and he wasn’t planned. It was a shock to say the least and my life, as I knew it anyways, changed. No longer was I able to do what I wanted socially, I had a Son to provide for. I was working two jobs, money was tight, was I still gambling? Of course I was but slowly I started to strip everything else out of my life. We had our daughter when I was 29 and to be honest here, as much as it sadeness me I thought this way I resented having kids, especially at that age. I felt trapped at times, people I knew were able to do what they want but yet I had all this responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my kids during this time as well and they meant the world to me, but I do feel that I got into the thought process that I was trapped because of them and my only escape was into the world of online gambling. I would go through phases where I’d stop altogether for months on end, a year at one point which I imagine was around the time my partner found out about me using the savings for gambling, but I’d always go back to it thinking I was in control but I never was. When gambling I’d deposit £10, lose it, deposit another £10, lose it, rinse and repeat until all my money was gone. If I won it just meant I could gamble longer. It was never about the money. I thought it was, but really the money was the fuel that could keep me gambling longer. Most months I was skint a few days after payday and couldn’t gamble until the next payday. It may not sound like a lot of money but it was a relentless cycle month after month after month. At the end of 2016 I got an overdraft of £2k and gambled it all on soccer all around the world. Woke up and started gambling in Asia, moved across the globe into the Middle East, Africa, Europe and then fell asleep betting on South American football. It was out of control. Betting on Egyptian football on Xmas Day a particular lowlight. This was what my gambling looked like when I had money. All these bets were in-play as that’s how I gambled, watching a little graphic on Bet365 and thinking I could predict what was going to happen. I also gambled heavily on tennis as well, picking a player to win a set 6-0 was one of my favourites. Generally I would start with £10 as I mentioned and if the bet won I would keep “investing” all the money until it got to a certain amount, normally a couple of hundred quid. Once I got to that point I would raise my stakes significantly because I would tell myself it wasn’t my money. It wasn’t if I didn’t count all the loses it took to get to this point over the previous few days. I would then gamble that until it’s gone cursing myself for not taking the money when I had the chance. Placing the last of my money praying to a god I don’t believe in that if he could just make this bet land then I wouldn’t bet again. Once the money was done I would just sit there, looking at my bank balance, the lack of money, the direct debits due to come out in a few days, trying to figure out how I would survive the next 3-4 weeks until payday. Then I would dust myself off and start working on some budgets. What direct debits I could bounce, who I could ask to borrow money from or maybe what I could sell to fund another round of gambling to try and win my money back. Coming into 2018 I was in a “good place” with gambling, or so I thought. I was Matched Betting which was a way of making money via bookmakers offers. It worked well for a few months but it all went to shit in the Summer of 2018. Matched Betting introduced me to the casino side of things and I lost £3.5k on roulette. I’ll not go into the ins and outs of how I had that sort of money, lets just say I didn’t and I found a way to deposit via direct debit on PayPal and of course those all bounced. Luckily Paddy Power rewarded me by making me a VIP customer after that, every cloud and all that. So I was chasing big style and getting free £50 bonuses each week from them but I could never get enough money to stop, because no amount was ever going to be enough. Their offers of Money Back if Horse X wins are normally £10 max refund, I was getting £100 max refund. Eventually I was running out of ways to get money and when I started to bet less with Paddy Power they removed my VIP status. I did win £1000 on an NFL bet and lost the lot on roulette the next week. Another lowlight. The win on the NFL followed by the lose on roulette sticks in my mind because visually it summed up how miserable I was. I had promised my partner back at the start of the year that we would get the living room redecorated and I would pay with it from my Matched Betting and she was happy with that. Of course I explained it was risk free and nothing could go wrong and it wasn’t even gambling. Anyways, come November we are due to have our living room redecorated and of course I do not have the money for it so I have to go to my Mum and Dad. I give them some sob story about how when I was Matched Betting I made a mistake, layed off the wrong horse and lost my money so could then lend me it and don’t tell my partner. It was a complete lie and to be honest at the time I didn’t think they had bought it but they lent me the money. Turns out when I told them about my gambling problem back in April they had smelt bull shit but my Granda (on my Dad’s side) was ill in the hospital and he was stressed about that so he just let it slide. So the redecoration was on and it was going to take a couple of days. One Monday night I had a bet on the NFL and it landed, £10 at 100/1. Happy days, I can give my Mum and Dad back their money, it’s nearly Xmas, this is amazing luck. So on Tuesday night I sat in my half decorated living room and thought if I could just win a little bit more then things would be even better so loaded up the roulette. I lost it all sitting in the living room and during it I could literally see what the money would be paying for but it didn’t stop me, nothing would stop me. 2019 I could feel myself struggling. My life was consumed with gambling or working out how to get money to gamble and then how I was going to pay people back what I owed them. I was in a bad place, I was a bad person, lying, angry but still no one knew the truth. January had always been a tough month as I run several NFL Fantasy Football leagues for money and I am in charge of the money. Of course, that was always gambled away by me and January was the month people expected pay outs because the season was over. Usually I would have won enough money in my leagues to cover it or convince people to pay for next year with their winnings that I could cover it. This year I could not and I had the added pressure of owing people money. A lot of these people were friends of mine I knew personally, others were people I had gotten to know over a few years and only talked online. Either way I had stolen their money and gambled it away. I managed to use my Granda’s death in January as an excuse for why I had not paid people yet, I was in a bad way with the funeral etc, all the excuses, the truth is I was just trying to buy more time. Then came the weekend prior to April 2nd. I had just been paid and deposited some money into my Bet365 account and managed to get my balance up to £910 on Friday 29th March. I should say by this stage I was fully gambling on tennis. Not match winner, that took too long, generally set winner or next game winner as that was quicker. Now this £910 would have cleared some of my urgent debts to allow me to continue on gambling. All I had to do was withdraw, and I was going to…...once I got it up to a nice round £1000. As you can guess I lost the lot. £300-£400 on Benoit Paire was one of the worst hits but I was gambling like a mad man. That was how I bet when I had winnings, the stakes got out of control. By the time I was leaving work at 6pm on the Friday the whole £910 was gone. I was betting on ATP, Challenger, ITF, any tennis that was on I was betting on it. Back in the day I remember betting on a tennis match where they had one ball. Still a story that brings a smile to my face if I’m honest. A smile that consists of a mixture of shame and cringe. That Friday night I deposited whatever I had left in and managed to win back a good chunk of the money, but it still wasn’t enough. It still wasn’t what I had before. So the whole weekend went like that, up and down, up and down. I went to a family dinner and sat betting on my phone the whole night. That’s how my life has been the last number of years, i’m present at gatherings, or nights out but my mind is deep in my phone gambling away not giving a shit about anyone. Eventually the money ran out that weekend. I was a mess. I could have actually made it work financially and gotten through the month but mentally I was gone. I could tell my brain had put me into a nosedive and the only way this was all ending was in disaster. Maybe not this month, or this year but I was being flown towards rock bottom. I sat down on the Monday and wrote out everything that I owed, who I owed it to, a budget going forward. It was grim enough reading, £18k in the hole. The money wasn’t the issue, it was how it was making me feel, the time I’ve been wasting. The fact that I finally couldn’t take anymore, that I was ready to wave the white flag and say gambling has won, it defeated me. I found out when and where the nearest GA Meeting was to me and wrote that down too. So I found a set of balls and on the Tuesday I told my girlfriend. My attitude was that life can’t be any worse for me than it currently is. I was a mess, I cried, I honestly expected her to tell me to get out and I wouldn’t have blamed her, but she was amazing. She was angry obviously, but she was so supportive. Then I called my parents round and told them. They were disappointed, confused but also really supportive. Then the next day I told my closest friends who were again all really supportive. I owe them some money too and they’ve been great about setting up a payment plan to pay that back. I can imagine some people saying that I didn’t hit rock bottom in comparison to others, I felt that way myself to be honest. I felt like I had gotten off lightly but looking back the cycle I was in was soul destroying and although I didn’t cause the devastation others have caused I knew I needed to reach out for help as I couldn’t do it on my own. I registered for GAMStop and self excluded online for 5 years which has taken the avenue of online gambling away from me. A vital step if online is your vice. I also handed over control of my finances to my partner which again removed another temptation. I’ve since learned in recovery that gamblers need 3 things, time, opportunity and money, take away one of those and you won’t be able to gamble. I took away two with these simple steps. I then went to my first GA Meeting on Wednesday 3rd April. The time doesn’t suit me for that, Monday at 9pm is my meeting but I felt I needed to get to one ASAP. I don’t know what I expected GA to be, some sort of church run cult filled with a bunch of old men desperate for a bet but it’s one of the most amazing groups I’ve ever found. It’s a dumping ground for all my shit and it’s a place where I can listen to other people’s stories. Without sounding sexist, it’s something a lot of men could do with outside of addiction, a place to talk about life and how they are feeling. I take a 50 mile round trip every Monday to get there. When I was gambling if I had to travel 50 miles to get internet to gamble you can guarantee I’d have travelled every day. When I leave a meeting I am buzzing, for all the right reasons. I’m a lifer when it comes to GA now and I am fine with that. I am also a member of the Problem Gambling Support Group and we run three meetings a week via Skype. This group has been so influential to my recovery and I have met so many good people I now consider friends through it. The topic meeting style is completely different to what happens at my own GA so it fits into my recovery perfectly and gives me a different perspective. I have a sponsor, who has had a massive impact on my recovery. He has helped me work the Steps and is always there if I need him. At times it’s hard to tell who is sponsoring who but that sort of dynamic works well for me as I see him as a friend first and sponsosponsee second. I have also found a passion for writing about my journey and post my stuff on my blog, on GamCare and on the Reddit Problem Gambling Sub. I have been told my stuff is very good and people seem to get a lot from it. As I explained at a recent meeting I am still learning how to deal with praise, it makes me feel awkward. I’m not sure if it’s from years of not wanting to be the focus of people's attention because of the fear they might ask questions and my addiction would be exposed. Whatever the reason I am working on being able to accept praise and enjoy it and as I was told at the last meeting...a simple thank you is usually enough. I’ve been clean for over 9 months now, and I have not struggled with urges to gamble. My life is amazing, it always was but I was too wrapped up in my addiction to notice. I literally had everything I could ever want. I have an amazing partner and two amazing children along with my parents who are absolutely fantastic. I have my health, a job and my friends are another support network I couldn’t do without now. They stood by me when I admitted my problem and they gave me the belief that I could do this. Recovery is now my focus along with my family. The debt can be managed, stopping gambling is one day at a time, but the main focus of my recovery will be fixing my character defects, helping others, being open and honest to people and not being a selfish asshole. I would like to think those that know me now can at least drop the selfish part when describing me. I have put plenty of work into my recovery and I feel like I am getting the benefits out of it. I have a routine when it comes to meetings and they don’t impact on my family life. Is every day amazing? No it’s not. Some days are rather boring and some days are tough, but that’s life. Some days you have to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. I have accepted what I am, I am a compulsive gambler and I need to be the one who changes. No one else around me needs to change, I am the common denominator. I have noticed a change in myself and those closest to me. They all seem happier, more content, happy to have this me in their life and not the old me. I wasn’t a nice partner, father, son or friend when I was in active addiction. I don’t want to be the person I was before I started gambling either because I am pretty convinced he was an asshole as well. I am using this recovery to become the man I want to be, the man I can look in the mirror and be proud to be. As I said, I have accepted that I am a compulsive gambler and I cannot have a single bet because it will lead me back to active addiction. I have no issues with the gambling industry or people who gamble, I just know that I am unable to gamble as it ends in disaster. I feel there should be more discussion around problem gambling and the industry should be putting more money into helping problem gamblers and to help identify problem gamblers. It’s a fine line though, as I know if a bookie told me they felt I had a problem and wouldn’t accept a bet I’d have been angry and just went somewhere else. You need to be ready for recovery to fully embrace it. I never was until April 2nd. For the people in recovery we need to be ready to help those that get to the stage where they are ready for recovery. We are the ones who these people will come to rely on as we’ve been through it, you can tell when talking to someone who hasn’t had a gambling addiction they just don’t understand. Over the coming years I think there will be a significant rise in people looking for help with problem gambling. I don’t feel like my story is close to the worst out there and I have read and heard some people who have the opinion that you need to cause devastation before recovery will work. That’s bollocks and that sort of attitude is why GA is filled with old men and young people are reluctant to stay. I have come to believe it doesn’t matter how much you have lost, how many relationships you have destroyed or what age you are, all you need is a desire to stop gambling and that is the qualification for entering recovery. For now though, for me, my next bet won’t be about the money I lose, I’ll lose my partner and my children as well and that’s not a bet that I am not willing to make. Mark
Outlook Whilst only a friendly, it's nevertheless the game between the reigning world champions and the reigning Asia champions. What else is there left to say? It's one of the few possible friendlies featuring 2 teams currently holding international honors. Especially since the last time these 2 met bacj in 2011 (which is also their only friendly to date), Australia won 2:1. Looking at the WC, Germany won the games against Australia with 4:0 (in 2010) and 3:0 (in 1974), and the Confed Cup game with 4:3 (2005). But as I said, coming to friendly games, Australia currenlty leads with 1W/0D/0L. Whilst Germany might still be the big favourite to win this game, the reigning world champion has struggled a lot ever since they won the title, with losses against Argentina in a friendly and Poland in the qualifier, as well as a draw against Ireland in the qualifier. Australia's last game however was their victory in the Asia Cup over South Korea, so they come into this game on a high which can only be prolonged with a win today. Betting odds- according to bet365.com
Match Updates 0' Kick-off 5' Reus testing Ryans abilities, Badstuber on the 1st deflection, and Gündogan on the 2nd, but the Aussies defend successfully and the final attempt goes wide. 9' Leckie goes through and is open in front of Zieler and misses the Australian lead by just a few inches. 15' Gündogan with a nice lob onto Reus into the box, but the Australian defence intercepts his attempts to stick the ball into the middle. 16' - Reus with the first 'goal' of the match, but sadly for the Germans from an offside position. Game still tied at 0-0. 17' - 1 - 0 Germany! Reus after a nice counter attack, after an assist from Khedira. Shortly after his rightfully disallowed goal, Reus makes it count from an onside play. 23' Reus again, intercepting a pass in Australia's build-up and suddenly open in front of Ryan, but waits too long and makes the angle too narrow, allowing Ryan to save his shot rather easily. 28' Jedinak with a shot from far out that comes in surprisingly hot, but Zieler able to clear it to a corner. 32' Leckie gets a 1v1 against Zieler, but can't quite put the ball past him. That's his 2nd great chance of the game so far. 40' - 1 - 1, Australia scores! Burns with a cross to Troisi who heads it in. 45' Half time! A quite entertaining game so far, both teams playing high up the pitch. 46' We're back on again! 46' - (1/6) - Badstuber, Rudy 48' Reus with a direct free kick from ~25m, but Ryan is just about able to save it. 50' - 1 - 2, Australia in the lead! Jedinak hammers a direct free kick into the goal, just over the wall. 53' Troisi with the chance for the 1-3, but his shot goes just wide of the goal. 61' - (1/6) - Burns, Oar 62' Götze with a pass on Bellarabi who is open to shoot, but his attempt goes straight at Ryan who can clear it. 63' - (2/6) - Khedira, Kramer 63' - (3/6) - Bellarabi, Schürrle 64' Zieler creating a chance for Australia by trying to Neuer a ball away, but Hector saves the day for the German GK here. 69' - (2/6) - Milligan, Mooy 71' Great counter attack from Australia, but Leckie's header goes just wide of the goal. Unlucky day for the Australian who even plays in Germany for FC Ingolstadt. 73' - (4/6) - Reus, Podolski 73' - (5/6) - Götze, Kruse 81' - 2 - 2, Germany equalizes! Podolski of all makes the game even again, after a great pass from Schürrle following his great run into the box. 85' Podolski opening the play with a pass to Özil who passes it to Kruse, but his shot goes way over the target. 88' - (3/6) - Troisi, Juric 90+2' Podolski on fire, with a good run on a counter attack, but can't quite control the ball as DeVeer blocks him. In the end, his attempt goes wide. 90+3' It's over! A fast paced and entertaining game ends with no winner and no loser. Australia has yet to lose against Germany in a friendly, whilst at the same time the 2 teams draw for the first time ever. Highlights - the place for gifs
My Story My name is Mark and i’m a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. The day of April 2nd was a massive turning point in my life, it was the day I finally admitted to my long term girlfriend, who is the mother of my two children, and to my parents that I was a compulsive gambler and needed help. The weekend prior was when I finally said to myself I’ve had enough, I had been betting for 14 years and it had beaten me so badly that I was a mess mentally and financially. Although no one knew that because I was an expert at hiding it. I started gambling like almost anyone in the UK or Ireland, The Grand National. The one day of the year where it seems like every man, woman and child has a bet on. The biggest horse race in the world. That and those glorious holidays spent in Portrush playing the 2p machines. I don’t for one second blame those experiences for my gambling problem, they are just my first memories of gambling.Once I turned 18 I opened an account with Blue Sq and that started my online sports gambling journey. Friday nights were spent betting on Wolverhampton all weather horse racing and the Dutch and French 2nd Divisions. All harmless fun, controlled gambling, small stakes. I was still working part time at this stage, left school that summer and gambling was not in the way. Once I got my full time job though that all changed. The first time I could put my finger on when my gambling changed was the first day of the 2008/2009 football season. I’d been working full time for about 3 years and my gambling was still under control. I gambled, but it wasn’t causing me any issues. That Friday I walked into a Paddy Power and decided instead of placing a load of stupid football bets for £1 or £2 I’d pick three teams for the season and do a £20 treble each week. Sheffield United, Leicester City and Leeds United were the picks. Of course, the first weekend it landed (the only time it landed all season I think) and my betting changed from that moment. I genuinely can’t remember the odds but I must have lifted over £100 from that £20 stake and after that staking £1 or £2 just wasn’t appealing. What was the point in that when I could stake £20 and win more. From that moment my gambling started to get out of control over time. Then came the loans, the credit cards, the payday loans. I knew early on I had a problem. I self excluded from places over the years but never really wanted to quit. I was getting in debt but was able to continue with my lifestyle as I was living at home. I remember one day going to a cheque cashing place where I could write a cheque for £100, dated on my next payday, and they’d give me £90 there and then. I did two cheques for going out that weekend (and a couple of bets on the Aintree Festival) walked straight to the bookies and had the £180 on Denman to win the Aintree Bowl at even money. He suffered the first fall of his career. Back I went to the cheque cashing place for another £90. I moved out and into my friends house for a year and the gambling continued, although I had less money to gamble with. My credit rating was taking a battering but I was young and didn’t really care. Then I met my current girlfriend in the February and we moved in together that September. The gambling continued and was getting worse. I made the smart move to get a second job to supplement my gambling…...at a greyhound track. I’d be earning about £20 a night but gambling £60 or £80. Insanity. We had our first child in April 2012 and not long after she found out I’d be gambling some of the money we’d saved. It wasn’t a lot of money, but she was pissed (rightfully so). I managed to talk my way out of it and that was when I became really good at hiding things. She took control of the rent money and any money for our son so that was never in danger thankfully. We had our daughter in 2016 but the gambling still continued. I would go through phases where I’d stop altogether for months on end, a year at one point, but I’d always go back to it thinking I was in control but I never was. When gambling I’d deposit £10, lose it, deposit another £10, lose it, rinse and repeat until all my money was gone. If I won it just meant I could gamble longer. It was never about the money. I thought it was, but really the money was the fuel that could keep me gambling longer. Most months I was skint a few days after payday and couldn’t gamble until the next payday.At the end of 2016 I got an overdraft of £2k and gambled it all on soccer all around the world. Woke up and started gambling in Asia, moved across the globe into the Middle East, Africa, Europe and then fell asleep betting on South American football. It was out of control. Betting on Egyptian football on Xmas Day a particular lowlight. Coming into 2018 I was in a “good place” with gambling, or so I thought. I was Matched Betting which was a way of making money via bookmakers offers. It worked well for a few months but it all went to shit in the Summer of 2018. Matched Betting introduced me to the casino side of things and I lost £3.5k on roulette. I’ll not go into the ins and outs of how I had that sort of money, lets just say I didn’t and I found a way to deposit via direct debit and of course those all bounced. Luckily Paddy Power rewarded me by making me a VIP customer after that. So I was chasing big style and getting free £50 bonuses each week from them but I could never get enough money to stop, because no amount was ever going to be enough. Their offers of Money Back if Horse X wins are normally £10 max refund, I was getting £100 max refund. Eventually I was running out of ways to get money and when I started to bet less with Paddy Power they removed my VIP status. I did win £1000 on an NFL bet and lost the lot on roulette the next week. Another lowlight. 2019 I could feel myself struggling. My life was consumed with gambling or working out how to get money to gamble and then how I was going to pay people back what I owed them. I was in a bad place, I was a bad person, lying, angry, grumpy but still no one knew the truth. Then came the weekend prior to April 2nd. I had just been paid and deposited some money into my Bet365 account and managed to get my balance up to £910 on the Friday 29th March. I should say by this stage I was fully gambling on tennis. Not match winner, that took too long, generally set winner or next game winner as that was quicker. Now this £910 would have cleared some of my urgent debts to allow me to continue on gambling. All I had to do was withdraw, and I was going to…...once I got it up to a nice round £1000. As you can guess I lost the lot. £300-£400 on Benoit Paire was one of the worst hits but I was gambling like a mad man. That was how I bet when I had winnings, the stakes got out of control. By the time I was leaving work at 6pm on the Friday the whole £910 was gone. I was betting on ATP, Challenger, ITF, any tennis that was on I was betting on it. Back in the day I remember betting on a tennis match where they had one ball. Still a story that brings a smile to my face if I’m honest. That Friday night I deposited whatever I had left in and managed to win back a good chunk of the money, but it still wasn’t enough. It still wasn’t what I had before. So the whole weekend went like that, up and down, up and down. I went to a family dinner and sat betting on my phone the whole night. That’s how my life has been the last number of years, i’m present at gatherings, or nights out but my mind is deep in my phone gambling away not giving a shit about anyone. Eventually the money ran out that weekend. I was a mess. I could have actually made it work financially and gotten through the month but mentally I was gone. I could tell my brain had put me into a nosedive and the only way this was all ending was in disaster. Maybe not this month, or this year but I was been flown towards rock bottom. I sat down on the Monday and wrote out everything that I owed, who I owed it to, a budget going forward. It was grim enough reading, £18k in the hole. The money wasn’t the issue, it was how it was making me feel, the time i’ve been wasting. I found out when and where the nearest GA Meeting was to me and wrote that down too. So I found a set of balls and on the Tuesday I told my girlfriend. My attitude was that life can’t be any worse for me than it currently is. I was a mess, I cried, I honestly expected her to tell me to get out and I wouldn’t have blamed her, but she was amazing. She was angry obviously, but she was so supportive. Then I called my parents round and told them. They were disappointed, confused but also really supportive. Then the next day I told my closest friends who were again all really supportive. I owe them some money too and they’ve been great about setting up a payment plan to pay that back. I registered for GAMStop and self excluded online for 5 years which has taken the avenue of online gambling away from me. A vital step if online is your vice. I then went to my first GA Meeting on Wednesday 3rd April. The time doesn’t suit me for that, Monday at 9pm is my meeting but I felt I needed to get to one ASAP. I don’t know what I expected GA to be but it’s one of the most amazing groups I’ve ever found. It’s a dumping ground for all my shit and it’s a place where I can listen to other people’s stories. Without sounded sexist, it’s something a lot of men could do with outside of addiction, a place to talk about life and how they are feeling. I take a 50 mile round trip every Monday to get there. When I was gambling if I had to travel 50 miles to get internet to gamble you can guarantee I’d have travelled every day. When I leave a meeting i’m buzzing, for all the right reasons. I’m a lifer when it comes to GA now and i’m fine with that. I’ve been clean for 3 weeks now, and i’ve had no urges to gamble. My life is amazing, it always was but I was too wrapped up in my addiction to notice. I have an amazing girlfriend and two amazing children along with my parents who are absolutely fantastic. My friends are another support network I couldn’t do without now. I’m also a member of this sub (clearly) and they run a weekly meeting via Skype every Wednesday which is becoming part of my weekly routine (they are also adding an additional one on a Tuesday). Recovery is now my focus along with my family. The debt can be managed, stopping gambling is one day at a time, but the main focus of my recovery will be fixing my character defects, helping others, being open and honest to people and not being a selfish asshole. I have no issues with the gambling industry or people who gamble, I just know that I am unable to gamble as it ends in disaster. I feel there should be more discussion around problem gambling and the industry should be putting more money into helping problem gamblers and to help identify problem gamblers. It’s a fine line though, as I know if a bookie told me they felt I had a problem and wouldn’t accept a bet I’d have been angry and just went somewhere else. You need to be ready for recovery to fully embrace it. I never was until April 2nd. For the people in recovery we need to be ready to help those that get to the stage where they are ready for recovery. We are the ones who these people will come to rely on as we’ve been through it, you can tell when talking to someone who hasn’t had a gambling addiction they just don’t understand. Over the coming years I think there will be a significant rise in people looking for help with problem gambling. For now though, for me, my next bet won’t be about the money I lose, I’ll lose my girlfriend and children as well and that’s not a bet that’s worth making. Mark
Hi everyone, here we are with some results! The survey was left open for ten days in order to garner a good number of responses, and it's up on spring but we're still far from the peak observed during Summer'15. Seems like there's a mass post-Tour exodus for some reason.
Top 15 Countries
No surprise to see that the USA is on top as ever, UK second and Netherlands third, but it's the way that the numbers have moved since spring in particular which grants an interesting insight into what the Tour does. It has a particularly dramatic effect on the number of Belgians, who see their share plummet once the classics are over whilst the anglosphere goes full speed ahead into yellow jersey fever. Elsewhere, German TV covering the Tour again has a positive effect on sub numbers, whilst a couple of extra nations creep into the top 15, most notably Slovenia.
What's your age?
No great changes in the age ranges since spring, with possibly a shade more young people watching than before. Otherwise it follows that the average user is in their 20s, as you'd guess for Reddit as a whole.
What's your Gender?
Sticking with the theme of usual reddit demographics, it's an overwhelmingly male presence, with just 49 female respondents in all.
How much of the season do you watch/follow?
March '18 (%)
August '18 (%)
WT Stage races
WT One day races
Non WT Stage races
Non WT One day races
Literally everything I can consume
So far, aside from a little change in which nationalities tune in, there hasn't been too much of a change. Here though it's plain to see the difference in fan base between spring and summer on the sub. Grand Tour watching increases (as you might expect), monuments & WT stage races lose a little ground, but everything else takes a nosedive. It's fair to say Le Samyn is not for everyone, but that's quite the drop.
How long have you been watching Cycling?
under a year
2 - 3
3 - 4
4 - 5
5 - 6
8 - 9
9 - 10
10 - 11
11 - 12
13 - 14
14 - 15
15 - 20
20 - 25
Simply put, most of us have been watching cycling for less than six years, and just over a quarter have picked it up inside the last three, or since mid-2015.
15 & more
This makes looking at the data a wee bit simpler.
Which teams do you like or not like?
This one is sorted by karma, which is simply the number of likes minus the number of dislikes. The 2015 answers come first and are highlighted with 2015, then the 2016 answers with 2016 and then the answers from this survey are highlight with 2018. Hopefully this will give a feel of the changing image of some of the teams in the peloton. First off, a full 12% of respondents are apathetic about teams, with no like/dislike feelings on the matter. For those that do have them:
AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
BMC Racing Team
Team Dimension Data
Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale (nee-Cannondale-Garmin)
Team Sunweb (nee-Giant-Alpecin)
Quick-Step Floors (nee-Etixx-Quick) Step
Trek-Segafredo (nee-Trek Factory Racing)
UAE-Team Emirates (nee-Lampre-Merida)
If reams of numbers scare you (and they should), then instead here's a handy little chart instead. What conclusions can we draw from this then? Firstly it seems that GT season brings out familiar discontent with teams like UAE & Bahrain, whilst Katusha suffer from being both previously evil and utterly useless. Astana continue on the path towards redemption with the dark winter of 2014 slipping ever further out of memory, whilst Sky sits more or less level as they mostly were prior to spring. Chief among the favourites though is Quick-Step, outshining PeterBora-hansgrohe, whilst Sunweb & LottoNL are reaching previously unthinkable heights of love with the sub. Fair to say that no one cares too much about FDJ though.
Do you ride a bike regularly?
No, I don't
Similar stats to March as you'd guess.
Is Cycling your favourite sport?
A palpable difference between spring & summer, with the numbers most similar to the 2015 survey, also held around Tour time.
What other sports do you follow?
I don't follow other sports
Association Football / Soccer
Esports (yes, this includes DotA)
Track & Field
Motorsports (Not including F1)
Did anyone tell you Esports was on the rise? Because it's leaping up the table every year, especially when it includes DotA. Otherwise, Soccer is king, and Formula 1 at last freed from the cruel tyranny of the Motorsports category shoots up to second, with American Football third. Oh, and that guy who has voted sailing four times, you're in! Other cycling disciplines
How often do you participate in a /Peloton Race Thread whilst watching a race?
I always participate in Race Threads during races
I follow Race Threads during races
I often participate in Race Threads during races
I rarely/never participate in Race Threads during races
Summer brings more invested users than normal, reversing the trend of less people participating in race threads.
How do you watch races?
Desperately scrabbling for Youtube highlights
Paid Streaming services
The ASO is unfortunately notorious for demanding that streams are legal and just, which sees summer piracy down on average, whilst local TV is up, as is the demand for paid streaming services, be it Eurosport, NBC, Flobikes & more.
Where do you follow races (in addition to watching them)?
Twitter as ever remains an excellent place to get news and up to date live events on almost any race, along with various livetickers. Worth noting the option list wasn't quite as long last time, which may have affected the outcome a tad.
Do you use /Peloton mostly in classic reddit or redesign when on the desktop?
Most of you remain true to the old reddit. Via the powers of enhanced traffic stats it's also possible to gauge where sub traffic came from in general. Here's a sneak peak at them.. Tour de July indeed. Third party apps don't appear because reasons.
When does the season end?
Men's WC RR
La Vuelta a Espana
Tour of Guangxi
Tour of Hainan
Now the technical answer to this is as follows:
As a general rule, the international calendar shall start on the day following the conclusion of the previous year’s final UCI World Championships event or WorldTour event and end upon conclusion of the final UCI WorldTour or World Championships event of the year in question.
Which means the technically correct answer is the final stage of the Tour of Guangxi. However, we did establish in spring that the season really begins at Omloop, not down under, and now by an admittedly small margin we've established the season really ends at the final monument of the year. There were shouts that it doesn't really end. it just gets a bit muddier, or that Paris-Tours is the real end of all things. One person also seems to think that the year ends at the Tour of Britain, which is a slight injustice to the Vuelta.
Rank the Monuments
The definitive answer in case anyone brings it up again, it's clear to see that Paris-Roubaix is the No.1 monument for /peloton, with de Ronde a clear second, MSR & LBL tied for third and Lombardy languishing at the end of the season in a distant fifth.
Rank these Titles by Prestige
Just to get an idea of how clear the lead for the Tour is, a full 89% of participants rated it as No.1. Yellow is the colour of choice. Next up is the Giro in a solid second, whilst the WC RR sits third. The Vuelta is as much an afterthought in this ranking as it is in the season in fourth, whilst the Olympics really doesn't get the level of recognition it possesses in Athletics for example, sitting in dead last. And that is that! Thank you as ever for participating in our survey, which we'll probably stick to making biannual. We've read the feedback you left at the bottom, and here's a overview of the suggestions for the sub you guys made. The subject that received the most references (over 20% of suggestions) was the spoiler rule, including love and hate for the current scenario. Both sides present good arguments. For now, the mod-team wants to make it clear that we are not considering to make changes in the near future. However, we will likely raise the discussion again once the season is over. We had comments asking us to take a harder stance against anti-Sky posts. We allow every opinion, about any team, as long as you respect reddit and /peloton rules. Once that line is crossed, we take action. And, as seen in the section 2 above, the community feeling about Team Sky is currently close to neutral. Some suggestions asked for more memes and fun - we have our friends @ pelotonmemes to give an answer to your needs! One of the suggestions was "Promote idea that disagreeable comments do not necessarily deserve downvotes. Upvote comments that promote discussion" which is something we all agree with. Lately we have seen comments that are downvoted despite contributing to discussion, and we condemn that. Don't forget that the downvote button is not a disagree button. People asked us if we could bring Cyclocross and Track onto the sub. For now, we prefer to keep /peloton focused only in professional road racing. /cyclocross and /velodrome will continue to be the home for the content about Cyclocross and Track. There was also a suggestion about allowing more non-English content on the sub. You could always bring articles and content written in your own language, whenever it is relevant for the subreddit. And if you bring a translation of the relevant bits, even better! Finally, we also received feedback about small questions. A while ago we created monday question threads, in response to older feedback, in order to diminish the amount of quick self posts - and recently turned them into 'weekly question threads'. However, some may argue - especially when a mod removes/redirects a thread - that this limits the amount of content in the sub - resulting in days where pelotonmod posts the majority of the threads, which is not an ideal scenario. For now, we will continue to ask you to post very quick questions in a question thread - if there is one sticky - and if the question is about a race underway, a sticky race or results thread may be your best bet - but if you bring a longer post raising a question that respects the other /peloton rules, that continues to be allowed as a separate thread.
On Friday at 8pm UK time, Reading and Derby County will kick off the 127th season of the English second division - also known as the Championship! 24 clubs will compete for 3 promotion spots to the Premier league (2 via automatic promotion and 1 via playoffs) and to avoid the 3 relegation spots to the third tier a.k.a League One.
Its looking like a really tight and competitive season. The league is absolutely full of ambitious player and managerial talent - the more time goes by the more it looks like a Premier League 2. If you want a competitive league with proper English football, that also has the spice of skilful players and forward thinking managers, it really is the place to go.
This is guide written by the fans who have come together on /Championship - an absolutely huge thanks to them. Do check out the sub, we try to keep it a good place to discuss the EFL, away from the rancid gloryhunting shithole that is /soccer (just kidding - I like this place). Lots going on, including a score predictor thread which is running all season.
This guide is in table order with the PL demoted sides first. Only 5 clubs today (because the Swansea one is a fucking novel and I can't fit any more in), the rest will be submitted tomorrow and Friday. Do bare in mind that not all the transfer news will be up to date as these guides were largely written a week ago. Point out to me if there are any clear errors with formatting or spelling.
How to watch in the UK: Live rights are owned by Sky Sports. They are upping the number of televised matches this season. Reading v Derby on Friday is televised. The weekly highlights show previously on Channel 5 is moving to Quest TV, which apparently is on Freeview. How to watch abroad: Depends, but in most territories, the iFollow Service is available, which is £110 to watch all a single club's matches. Bargain. I think the clubs that aren't on iFollow have their own similar streaming services. Check out club Youtube channels - quite a few of them post extended highlights now with their own commentary, including Derby, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford and more. (You may need VPN to watch if you're abroad.)
Location: Swansea, Wales Nickname: Swans, The Jacks Major honours: Football League Cup (2013), Championship Play-off Winner (2011), League One Winners (1925, 1949, 2008) 17/18 finishing postion: 18th (Premier League) Transfermarkt squad value:€115.5 mil NOTE: This number is as of July 22nd, when we still have Mawson (€15 mil), A. Ayew (€15 mil), Bony (€10 mil), Clucas (€8 mil) and Fernandez (€8 mil), who are all pretty much expected to be sold, or loaned out, before the season starts. Without all of these players except Bony (who's injured for a while so it makes it unlikely he'll be sold soon), the squad value would be around €70 mil. Manager: Graham Potter joined the Swans on 11th June 2018. In 2010, he became head coach of Östersund, who were in the fourth tier of Swedish football. 5 years later, he got the club promoted into the Swedish top flight and in 2017, they won Svenska Cupen which qualified them for the Europa League where they managed to get through the group stage. He’s been applauded for what he did at Östersund and the way he managed to build the club up from nothing. The year after his success in the Europa league he signed a 3 year contract with Swansea. Potter is well respected by The Swans and after a few years of poor managerial and financial decisions his appointment is seen as a step in the right direction to bringing us back to our old ways of being a well-run club. Potter has been recognised for his "progressive" and "unconventional" coaching methods. At Östersund, he encouraged his players and staff to engage in community activities, such as performing in theatre and music productions which was designed to take them out of their comfort zone. Potter describes his style of football on the pitch as "tactically flexible, attacking, and possession-based". At Östersund, he deployed a flexible 3–5–2 formation centred on ball possession. Best player(s)/ talisman:With many of our best players being rumoured with a move away what good players that remain at the start of the season is yet to be seen. Alfie Mawson is probably our standout player. He’s been amazing for us since we got him and was a bargain at about £3m. He’s great in the air and is just an all round tank. Keeping him will be a huge boost for us and should be solid in the championship. Federico "El Pajaro" Fernandez has also been strong at the back with Alfie. The pair played with each other for the majority of last season and together became a solid unit. We will most likely sell him to reduce wages though. Jordan Ayew put in a great shift last season and was our top goal scorer. His work rate was immense and was able to drop back and defend when needed. He’s fast, able to beat a man and a decent finisher. Sadly all these players are transfer targets for other clubs and might not even be here at the start of the season. If we can keep a lot of our players we should have a decent season but who knows who'll be left by the end of the window… Rising star: Swansea’s U23 had a great season last year and with Potter wanting a young and fresh squad, a handful have moved up into the first team. Our standout youngster, Oliver McBurnie, joined Barnsley on loan in January last season where he went on to win a Championship player of the month award after 6 goals in 8 games and went on to win Barnsley’s Player of the year award. While only 22, he’s struggled to break into our first team but will most likely be our main striker for the coming season. Be on the lookout for his long legs, miniature shinpads and ridiculous sock length! LEGS LEGS LEGS!!! Connor Roberts performed well at RB last season and adapted quickly to the premier league where he battled Kyle Naughton to be in the starting line up and did great when given the chance. Decent at going forward and professional at the back. Hopefully potter puts him ahead of Naughton. What happened last season?: What Happened last season?: After our great escape the season before and with Paul Clement at the helm there was optimism that the 17/18 season could be our turning point where we start rebuilding 'The Swansea Way". How wrong we were. After a disastrous transfer window where we sold Sigurdsson and never replaced him and started panic buying the week before the transfer window closed we were left an obvious hole in our team. We had no creativity in midfield and no one could kick the ball into the box to save their life. And just to rub it in further Renato Sanches turned out to be more disappointing than Bob Bradley. With the team sitting bottom of the table Clement was sacked in late December. Then along came the wise talking Carlos Carvalhal who managed to rebuild the confidence the team had lost. Our results took a turn for the good, beating Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham consecutively at home. He pulled us out of the relegation zone and things were looking good. However, the good times were quickly followed by the bad times. Our form turned and we didn’t win a single one of our last 9 matches. We were quickly relegated after pitifully losing to both Southampton and Stoke in our last 2 games of the season. Highlights (Or lowlights): The pass by Renato Sanches that summed up his and our season Swansea City 3-1 Arsenal Summer transfer business (so far): At the end of last season, it was clear we needed several transfers, both in and out. However, this would all depend on the manager we got. Yan Dhanda (Free, Liverpool): A 19 year-old Midfielder, Yan Dhanda left Liverpool this summer and joined the Swans in a free, before we even hired Graham Potter. At one time one of the most promosing youngsters in Liverpool's Academy, injuries slowed down his progress, and ultimately made him fall behind other players. Citing lack of first-team playing time, Dhanda decided to join us this summer in hopes of getting regular playing time in the senior squad. Through 3 pre-season games, Dhanda has been one of the brighest and most impressive players in the squad, even scoring a game-winning goal and smashing a penalty in a shootout against Genoa. With our current injuries and shenanigans involved in our midfield, Dhanda has a good chance of becoming a starter and hopefully guide our midfield during the season. Jordi Govea (Free, Real Madrid): Another 19 year-old from Ecuador, Jordi was the first signing under Potter. Not much can be said about the lad, but this is what Real Madrid had as his bio:
Jordi is an Ecuadorian defender who possess three key qualities for a player in his position: he's skilful, is able to go past a player and has a good shot on him. He's left footed and is able to send in good crosses on the run.
With Martin Olsson currently as our starting LB, and Kyle Naughton as the backup, the hope is that Jordi can develop on our U-23 squad and hopefully move up to the senior squad in coming years. Also the only man I've seen do a medical while wearing jeans (https://twitter.com/SwansOfficial/status/1015251916132057089) Joel Asoro (€2 mil., Sunderland): Yet another 19 year-old, a Swedish winger who has represented his country in the younger levels, he was Potter's first senior signing. With world-class speed, and some impressive skills, Asoro was able to score 3 goals and get 2 assists last season in 26 apperances for Sunderland. While these numbers may seem a bit disappointing, many of these games were sub appearances on a very dysfunctional team. Along with Dhanda, Asoro has been one of the most impressive players during preseason, constantly beating his man with either speed or skills, and whipping in good balls to Legs. At the current rate, Asoro appears to have a good chance of starting on the right wing spot, with Nathan Dyer and Luciano Narsingh backing him up. Predicted starting XI: NOTE: This is gonna be assuming Mawson, A. Ayew, Clucas, and Fernandez are all sold by the start of the season. If by some reason they end up staying, they are pretty much guaranteed to start. Based on the pre-season games so far, a lineup looking like this would be plausible, with Rodon most likely to be replaced by a CB (possibly Scott McKenna) when we buy one. Our second unit is looking something like this. Best case scenario: Graham Potter is able to motivate and make sure our senior players (Fer, Carroll, etc.) stay fit, along with our youngsters being able to make an impact as expected, and also we retain Mawson, Fernandez, and Clucas, we can finish in the top 2 and get promoted automatically. Worst case scenario: Our worst case scenario, and something many of us fear of happening, consists of primarily 3 things. 1. Graham Potter isn't given enough time to build an identity with our squad and is sacked by the midway point of the season by the greedy, dumb American owners. . 2. We end up not replacing the players we sold properly like last summer, therefore having a squad with holes everywhere and no chemistry. 3. Our youngsters such as Asoro, McBurnie, Dhanda and company don't pan out and progress at all, thefore becoming mediocre players. This would all culminate in us looking like Sunderland, and making relegation a probability. Prediction: Realistically I see us selling Mawson and company in the last days before the season starts and not replacing them properly until later on. Because of this, as well as our current injuries with Fer and Clucas, I can see us initially struggling to build an identity but over time, we will start playing like Potter wants us and finishing the season strongly. 8th place, missing the play-offs by 4 points What will happen to your closest rivals?: The scum that is known as Cardiff City will break the record for lowest points ever accumulated in a Premier League season, getting 5 points all from draws, and will therefore get relegated with 17 games to spare.
Location:The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, West Midlands Nickname: The Baggies, The Throstles Major honours: 1x League title, 1x League Cup, 5x FA Cup 17/18 finishing postion: 20th in Premier League (relegated) Transfermarkt squad value: £101.16m Manager:Darren Moore or Big Dave as he's known to Albion fans. A club icon as a player in the early 2000s, he returned to look after our U23 squad before being promoted to assistant manager by Alan Pardew in January. Following the end of Pardew's horrific reign, Moore took temporary charge with Albion facing inevitable relegation. He led us to wins over Newcastle, Spurs, Man Utd and a draw with Liverpool, somehow taking our futile battle for survival to the final week of the season. Following this he earned the head coach role permanently. Moore is loved among the Albion faithful, largely due to his reputation as a player here. He heavily favours a 4-4-2 formation and at the back end of last season, tended to soak up pressure and play on the counter attack. It will be interesting to see how his approach differs in a league where we are one of the favourites, not fighting to survive (hopefully) Best player(s)/ talisman: It's an interesting situation for Albion currently. There are plenty of Premier League quality players still in the squad. A lot depends on if they are picked off before the deadline shuts. Chris Brunt is a club stalwart and likely to be reappointed as captain. He is adored by the fans and in my opinion will be an incredible asset in the championship. His set pieces alone will bring 10+ goals to the side. Kieran Gibbs is a high quality player who appears to be set to stay and should make a big difference. Jay Rodriguez, Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon and Nacer Chadli should all make a big difference in this division IF they stay. In all honesty I expect to lose a few of the above. Sam Johnstone appears to be an astute signing to replace the outgoing Ben Foster. Rising star:Sam Field he's one of our own! He looked completely at home against some of the top Premier League sides last campaign. A box-to-box midfielder, he's full of energy and looks so comfortable on the ball. I expect him to be a major part of our side this season, having just signed a new long-term deal. Kyle Edwards is an exciting attacking midfielder who has been impressing in pre-season. He may have a part to play following a loan spell at Exeter last campaign. Jonathon Leko looked like a potential world-beater when he first came through a couple of years back. A lightning quick winger full of tricks. A loan spell at Bristol City and limited appearances later he seems to be losing his way. Will be an interesting one to watch. Finally, the enigma that is Olly Burke. After signing with us last summer for £15m, he failed to impress any of the four managers we had over the season. He looks exciting when he comes on, without any end product so far, and was unfairly blamed for a loss at West Ham by Alan 'Coward' Pardew. We all know the talent he's got. Hopefully we can see it this season. What happened last season?: Let's not talk about it... We finally escaped the stranglehold of Tony Pulis, only to opt for the human joke that is Alan Pardew and duly hurtled towards relegation. Four of our players stole a taxi and then played (and lost) the following weekend. Pardew was sacked about 3 months too late, and Moore took over, restoring pride with some notable wins over Man Utd and Spurs. This season we also lost the great Cyrille Regis, and the outpouring of emotion and the coming together of the club during the weeks after his passing was something special. Summer transfer business (so far): We started by releasing Claudio Yacob, Boaz Myhill and Gareth McAuley. Yacob and McAuley will be greatly missed but it is perhaps the right time for them to go. Jonny Evans departed for Leicester for a cut-price £3m, Ben Foster left for Watford and James McClean has departed for Stoke City. Sam Johnstone has been bought in to replace Foster, with Jonathon Bond arriving as backup. Kyle Bartley has joined from Swansea City and it appears that Harvey Barnes will soon be arriving on loan from Leicester. Finally, James Morrison is currently out of contract but still with the club. His future is uncertain. I am very happy with Johnstone and Bartley. It has been a quiet window for Albion so far but that is largely a good thing. The squad is packed with Premier League talent and the window is more about keeping hold of them. There is major interest in Dawson and Rondon, along with interest in Rodriguez, Hegazi and Chadli. If any of the above go, then we would need to replace. Otherwise I would be happy with another striker and another CB. It is also worth mentioning that every player in the Albion side suffered a 50% wage cut upon relegation which means that we are financially sound despite relegation, but may lead to more big names leaving. Predicted starting XI:This is my best attempt. It will undoubtedly be 4-4-2. We may see Nyom in at right back and perhaps Barry in for Field. Obviously about half of this side could leave, so we shall see. Best case scenario: The bulk of the side remains and the quality in the side shines through as we breeze to automatic promotion. Worst case scenario: The better players leave or do not put the effort in. Moore cannot transfer his great start into his first full season in management. We become embroiled in a relegation battle Prediction: It will be somewhere in the middle. I'd like to think we'll go up automatically but I think play-offs are more likely. 6th What will happen to your closest rivals?: Villa won't go down but will settle into mid-table, despite the recent takeover. I think Wolves will do well in the PL, although I don't know how long Nuno will last before a big club comes in.
Location: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire Nickname: The Potters Stadium:bet365 Stadium, 30,089 seats Major honours: 1972 League Cup 17/18 finishing position: 19th, Premier League Squad value: £127.8 million Manager:Gary Rowett signed from Derby in May. His honest attitude has brought lots of optimism to fans, who are looking forward to an overhaul of the Club. His style of play seems to change based on the squad he has available. Best Player:Joe Allen was vital to the Club last season, giving us hope that we would avoid relegation. His massive new contract signed this summer shows how loyal and committed to the Club he is, and will be a vital player this season. Rising star:Tom Edwards is a local lad who has won the Under 18 Player of the Year award twice in the Club. In the latter parts of last season he played some good first team football. What happened last season: A pathetic attempt at a season that had been coming for a while under Mark Hughes. Paul Lambert was appointed in January, but a win rate of just 2 in 15 matches wasn’t enough for him to keep his job and miss out on the million pound bonus offered to him. Transfer business so far: So far this has been a decent transfer window. Peter Etebo had an amazing World Cup for Nigeria and Benik Afobe looks really promising. Adam Federici has also been appointed to replace Lee Grant. Xherdan Shaqiri has left along with a few players like Stephen Ireland and Glen Johnson who will not be missed. Badou Ndiaye also looks to be on his way out, but it looks like Jack Butland will stay with us, which is massive. Perhaps most surprising are the new contracts signed by our 2 best players last season, Joe Allen and Moritz Bauer. Predicted Line up:Here is our predicted squad. I’m not sure what formation we will have. EDIT: This is a new version, complete with our rumoured new signings and in the right formation. Best case scenario: Stoke will finish top with an all-time Championship points record. Worst case scenario: A mediocre start to the season will see Rowett sacked and Stoke with a disappointing mid-table finish. Prediction: I think with our squad and our new manager, we will finish 1st. What will happen to our closest rivals? Port Vale will be relegated to the Vanarama National League.
Location:Villa Park, Trinity Rd, Birmingham B6 6HE Nickname: The Villans, The Villa, Prince William's Club, David "Twat" Cameron's Second Club. Major honours: 7 First Division wins, 7 FA Cups, 5 League Cups, 1 European Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intertoto Cup 17/18 finishing postion: 4th Transfermarkt squad value: £67.77m and dropping fast Manager:Steve Bruce (for now). Former Man Utd playing legend who's been a fixture of English football for decades. He joined Villa in 2016 after successful runs at Hull, Sunderland (yes they were good once) and Birmingham City. A bit of a promotion specialist, he's taken Championship clubs up to the Premier League 4 times in the past and just missed out last season, losing 1-0 to Fulham in the Playoff Final. Tactically, he's fairly old school who prefers 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1, usually involving a big man up top. Fun fact: while managing Huddersfield in 1999 he wrote three novels, "Striker!", "Sweeper!" and "Defender!", which focus on main character Steve Barnes, a football manager. Barnes solves crime and takes on terrorists, and the books have become prized rarities. The Guardian's Football Weekly podcast managed to get a copy and read out some of the copy - suitably awful. Best player(s)/ talisman: There's only one Jack Grealish. A Villa boy through and through, he's been with the club since 2001 (aged 6), and made his way into the first team in the 2013-14 season. He's been the centre of controversy a few times, most notably getting on the beers and passing out on a Tenerife street. Playing as a number 10, his quick feet and dribbling skills provide a number of goals and assists, as well as fouls. He probably went down a bit too easily when first in the Premier League, but time in the gym has noticeably toughened him up and he's a much more solid player as a result. One of the better players in the Championship, and due to Villa's abject finances, a transfer target for the likes of Leicester. Rising star: Keinan Davis could possibly be it, potentially Andre Green and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy as well. What happened last season?: Have you ever walked into a casino, spotted the roulette table and popped £10,000 on red? It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off. You've doubled your money if you win, but look like a right git if you lose. Villa figured this was a good way to approach 2017-18: spend millions on players, get in lots of loans, gamble everything on achieving promotion. After a so-so start, Bruce got the team playing well, stringing together a number of wins and moving through the playoff spots. Unfortunately they ran into a few teams playing out of their skin - champions Wolves ran away with the league and boasted a squad that included several Champions League players. Neil Warnock's Cardiff couldn't stop winning and grabbed the second automatic promotion. In the playoff final Villa came up against a Ryan Sessegnon-led Fulham and were just pipped at the post 1-0. Summer transfer business (so far): It's one-way traffic, due to absolutely abysmal finances. Loan spells for Lewis Grabban, Robert Snodgrass, Josh Onomah and Sam Johnstone have all ended, which is almost the spine of the team (Johnstone in particular - he was arguably the best keeper in the Championship and personally bagged a number of wins). Plus clubs are circling to pick off whatever assets we have left (eg. Jack Grealish, James Chester). With no prospect of anyone new coming in, it looks like the youth academy will be getting a lot more game time. Predicted starting XI:Possibly this, but half these players could be gone before the first match. Best case scenario: Mid-table anonymity would have to be best case - Villa are a mess and could go down this time around. Worst case scenario: Our finances are the real issue - they are dire. Villa need to find £9 million this month to avoid going into administration. Owner "Dr." Tony Xia is a billionaire, apparently, but tax bills went unpaid and the question remains if he's able to support the club as generously as he has in the past. Administration, points deductions and potentially relegation to League One are all real possibilities right now. It's not looking good. Prediction: Due to financial irregularities in the 23 clubs above us, Villa will get into the Champions League and take out the likes of Atletico, Bayern and Real Madrid on the way to our second European Cup. "Taylor, Green, prepared to venture down the left. There's a good ball played in for Jack Grealish. Oh, it must be and it is! It's Keinan Davis!" What will happen to your closest rivals?: Unfortunately the Scum managed to avoid League One in the final rounds of the season. Here's hoping they go one better. Agbonlahor to re-sign for one game: the Derby. And score the winner, again.
Location: The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough Founded: 1876 Nickname: The Boro (Or just Boro) Major honours: The League cup 2003-2004 season 17/18 finishing position: 5th Transfermarkt squad value: 79.34m Manager: Tony Pulis became manager of us in late December 2017, replacing the sacked Garry Monk after a pretty lacklustre few months of the campaign (despite where our league position was). Pulis is known in England for being the man that is never relegated when in charge of someone in the top flight. We are all aware of Tony Pulis' style of football. You start by having a strong and massive defence and maximise your use of set pieces to gain an advantage. Pulis is a lover of all set piece plays, whether that is crossing the ball in from a corner or free kick, or launching a ball into the box from a throw in, they're all in his arsenal of weapons. 'Pulisball' as it is pretty much known. Pulis has achieved promotion from the championship once before with Stoke, and I hope he achieves it again with us this season Best player(s)/ rising star: I mean, where else do I begin. Adama Traore. Arguably the best player in the championship on his day and is one of the most frightening dribblers in English football, maybe even world football. The winger is known for his speed and dribbling ability although is usually criticised for his lack of end product. Before last season I would've agreed, however 5 goals and 10 assists, with all but 2 assists coming before Pulis' arrival show the progression of the Spanish winger. As for other members of the squad, Ben Gibson, the prodigal son. Boro through and through he's progressed into a commanding centre half with the ability to play out from the back thanks to Karanka. He gained attention and emerged as one of the few given credit after our disappointing premier league campaign but was only the subject of one bid upon our relegation, from now manager Tony Pulis. It remains to be seen whether he'll be here come the first game of the season, but I hope he will be. As for future stars, Dael Fry, already has played 2 championship campaigns for us and looks as assured as a veteran of the game. Another centre half produced by our academy and he is being played in cdm this pre-season by Pulis, to add to his versatility. Hopefully a standout season for him, especially if Gibson does end up leaving. Finally, yes, he does always look as confused as images of him show. What happened last season?: Well, the first half of the season was tragic under Monk. We played really poor football at times and looked like we hadn't defended a day in our lives. There was also no consistency in the team, we'd win one game then lose the next. A key theme under both managers however, was our inability to beat those around us in the table. After Pulis' appointment the results picked up and it ended with us finishing 5th in the table. We ultimately lost in the playoff semi finals to Aston Villa but honestly, we didn't think we'd even be in the top half around Christmas. Summer transfer business (so far): Just the three deals to talk about so far. We've acquired Paddy McNair from Sunderland who looks like a decent player. He's been utilised in right back and midfield during pre-season so it looks like they'll be his positions for the season. I imagine he'll play alongside Clayts and Howson in a midfield three. Aden Flint was signed from Bristol City and I think I'm in the minority when I say I don't like how much we paid for him. Obviously the man is a Pulis player but I'm a bit unsure about his defensive ability. That being said he's looked strong during pre-season and I'm sure Pulis will get the best out of him. Fabio departed our club for Nantes so we'll need more full back cover. As for the rest of the window, I expect Gibson to leave but will be delighted if he doesn't. One of our strikers will also leave and Braithwaite should follow after his decent World Cup performances. We'll probably bring in a striker and a winger and hopefully hold onto Adama. That'd be a successful window in my eyes. Predicted starting XI: My best guess The only other guess I could make is that Gibson might leave and then Ayala would start, but he's injured at this point in time. Britt might play over Gestede too if Pulis is feeling fancy. Best case scenario: It has to be top of the pile right? It's not out of the question to imagine us up there and if everything clicks then we've got a chance. A defence that scores more than some teams' strikers, Adama channelling his inner Messi and finding consistency, Rudy/Britt/Bamford scoring for fun. It could be carnage. Worst case scenario: I can't see us finishing outside the playoffs, if we did then that would be gut-wrenching. But if we did then that would most certainly be the worst. Realistically, it'd be losing in the playoffs... again, and if it were in the final again then god help me. Although saying this, now losing Bamford and maybe Traore will be a worst case scenario in itself, definitely if they're not replaced. Prediction: Have to be confident, although it always kills me. 1st or 2nd. Tony Pulis and his nice white trainers carry us to the promise land. That being said, we never do it the easy way. Best Match of Last Season Sorry Leeds fans, but it had to be. "Hattrick Bamford" as our Twitter account tweeted, 3-0 against Leeds with Adama running the show. Leeds clearly found some positive from the game as they're set to sign him off us. This was the sign of what we should've done more last season. Showed what Paddy could've been too if given an even more extended period in Striker by himself. Oh well. What will happen to your closest rivals?: Who even are our closest rivals in this league? We're in geographical purgatory. Can't say Sunderland anymore so what? Leeds? Bielsa either turns them into the well oiled machine they hope for or he succumbs to the old Leeds ways and is sacked by December. As for the Mackems, probably promoted from League 1.
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All Ireland hurling final 2018 full match - YouTube
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