Betworking? You betcha.

More like wetworking! commented one wag on the eve of the inaugural #Betworking event at Chester Races. With sunglasses popped firmly back in cases and golf umbrellas dusted off, nearly fifty of Manchester’s finest were ready for a day out to remember in the historic Roman city. I couldn’t bloody wait. Love the races I do, hooked as long ago as 1981 (as a five year old!).

After months of cajoling the troops and planning the detail, it was very much the weather dictating pre-race chatter. For the racing veterans, would the forecast rain affect the going? For the ‘fashionistas’, would it ruin the hairstyles and change the all-important look.

Yet come Friday lunchtime, seemingly the lovely girls had dismissed the local Mancunian drizzle with nonchalant ease as one by one, they arrived at Grand Pacific looking absolutely stunning in a diverse assembly of summer dresses.

And the blokes weren’t too shabby either. Marc Yaffe (JMW Solicitors), Paul Yates (Online Ventures Group) and Ashley Williams (Neighbourhood) all upholding the now legendary three-piece tradition. Gary Chaplin, Chris Marsh (UKFast) and Carlos Oliveira (Shaping Cloud) equally dapper yet it was Danny Rodgerson (Brabners) pushing the boundaries in pastel who stood out.

horses

After a welcome glass of fizz and buffet lunch from the excellent Australasia team, this stellar Mancunian cast was assembled and ready to ‘betwork’ in style. Aside from my own worries about the potential unreliability of coach drivers, there was a lovely relaxed mood about Grand Pacific. Absolute vindication of dragging everybody out of the Friday rat race for an afternoon. As it transpired, both coaches arrived in Spinningfields on time and after dealing with the slight curveball of the second bus refusing to allow our bought alcohol on board, we set off in good spirits.

backseat

Our 32-seater coach was bubbling, with drinks and conversation both in full flow. After some light traffic, we arrived at the course in good time where eventually the entire group was reunited in our chosen Finishing Post section.

We were greeted by some welcome drinks kindly provided by Chester-based law firm, Aaron & Partners. A huge thank you to Chris Longbottom and Scott Hadden for arranging these for our group. They went down an absolute treat. Due to the weather, the course was quiet… much quieter than I’d expected, but in a way, this helped to foster a sense of intimacy among us. And better still, we more or less commanded the undercover centre of our own al-fresco reserved tables section. It was quite relaxing sipping Pimms, watching the light drizzle fall around us.

group

Anyway, to the important business, the evening’s racing and as a collective group, we hit a purple patch. On the coaches earlier, I’d collected ten pounds off everyone who wanted to be part of my ‘Betworking Syndicate’. With £400 in hand, I set about a strategy to give everyone a financial interest across all the races…

6:20 1st Disavow 13/8F (backed £100 to win 3/1) +£300
6:50 3rd Alpine Storm 15/2 (backed £50 E/W 5/1) level
7:20 1st Cosseted 6/4 (backed £100 to win) +£150
7:55 1st Big Johnny D 9/2 (backed £50 to win 5/1) +£250
8:30 4th Caramack 5/1 (backed £50 E/W) -£100
8:55 1st Buredyma 2/1 (backed £200 to win 7/4) +£350

Total £950 profit

watching

Oh yes, it was definitely time to party on the winnings! At least 30 of us piled into Neighbourhood back in town and having bumped into a few more souls who couldn’t join us at the races, we celebrated into the early hours with a hardcore contingent partying on over at Liars Club. The MRJ Recruitment lads, Jody, Ashley and Will among those last standing. One unnamed dirty bastard even finished off the night with a kebab (burp).

A most enjoyable day and night out and genuinely humbled to introduce so many people to each other for the first time. And equally so many to a new sport. Hopefully, there’ll be a sequel. Hell no, there WILL be. Let me know if you want in and I’ll pop you on the invitation circular when it’s ready.

montage

 

 

 

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Viva Mondiale!

Ten of my favourite World Cup memories. Slight Italian bias. And a slight nod towards my ‘golden era’ of 1982-1990. I’ve tried to capture the colour, the emotion, the sounds and the skills of the greatest football competition in the world. Bring on the Jogo Bonito baby!

(1982) Italia 3 Brasil 2 – Oh, that Zico swivel as he plays in Socrates. Football made in heaven. But Paolo Rossi punishes the last great Brazilian side with a clinical masterclass of goal-poaching.

(1982) Marco Tardelli. No further comment necessary. The defining image of ANY World Cup.

(1986) ITV’s classic 1986 Opening Credits – Aztec Gold, later to become the theme tune for Saint & Greavsie.

(1986) There was simply so much beauty in the 1986 World Cup but I’ve picked Careca’s goal v France in the quarter final. It represents for me a perfect fusion of the old Brazilian samba style of playing and the modern explosive game of pace and power. This was a nation at a crossroads in how it plays and Brazil have never quite been the same since. Antonio Careca was a top striker, vastly underrated in the history books.

(1990) New Order – World in Motion – Twenty fours year on and still THE definitive England World Cup tune from Manchester’s finest.

(1990) The BBC ‘Nessun Dorma’ Opening Credits. Goosebumps stuff.

(1990) When Roberto Baggio lit up the Stadio Olimpico, Rome with the goal of the tournament. This marvellous Italian side was so unlucky not to win that World Cup and arguably a better side than the teams of 1982 and 2006. Without doubt, defensively, the best I’ve seen in my lifetime.

(1998) Zidane, a virtuoso final performance. It’s easy to forget the imperious Frenchman given the modern day overload on all things Ronaldo and Messi. But ZZ did it at the highest level for both club and country. The finest midfield player of a generation.

(2006) Cambiasso. The quintessential team goal. Brilliant play by the entire Argentinian team cutting through Serbia like butter.

(2006) Just listen to Fabio Caressa’s commentary on the outstanding match of the 2006 tournament. Just look at Fabio Grosso. This is football. Pure unadulterated passion. “Andiamo Berlin”

Hope you enjoyed? Let me know if you agree or have favourite or defining moments of your own.

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