Tuesday, 5 December 2017

My mate knew that his weekly wage of £409 would be in his bank every Friday morning at 12:09am. The whole lot was gone by 11:00am the same day. This happened every week.

He lay in bed and waited until has bank was credited so he could gamble it all away.

Gambling addiction has forced several of my close friends into suffering mental breakdowns, losing their partners and plunging into major debt. It is often worse than alcohol and drug addiction on so many levels. Undoubtedly, gambling addiction is an illness. I have watched closely as a number of friends endure the agonies and mental stress caused by gambling. Going with them to the bookies and watching them lose their money whilst they frantically yell at me “I’m not addicted, just one last spin and I’ll round my credit up to the next £10”. The next £10 was always £0. Always.

It’s extremely difficult to stop friends from gambling such large amounts. If they want to do it, they’re going to do it. Once the idea of gambling is in an addict’s mind, there’s literally nothing that will stop them. Saying to an addict “come on, that’s your last £10” or “this is definitely your last spin then collect the rest” doesn’t work. They may do as you say to begin with, but they’ll come back and use the FOBTs when they’re alone, or gamble online which is just as easy and potentially even more dangerous.

The problem with gambling addiction, and more so FOBTs, is that the individuals don’t necessarily want to win, it’s the adrenaline rush that keeps them hooked. Once the spin button is pressed and the ball begins to fly around the outside of the roulette wheel, that’s the exact moment a gambling addict cherishes, that's their shot in the arm.

Walking into the bookies nowadays is a totally different experience to that of 20 years ago (So I’m told, I’m 24). Depending on the time of year, you either walk into a shop with the air condition blasting or the heating on full. There’s leather sofas and you’re always asked whether you’d like a complimentary drink. Some may say this is the sign of good customer service and some would say this is a ploy to attract more problem gamblers. Arguably it’s both.

I walked into the bookies a few months back and I watched a man spend over £1,500 in 25 minutes. After filling the machine full of £20 notes, he then went to the counter asking if the member of staff would accept a card payment in order to put some more credit onto the FOBT he was using. The member of staff said yes without hesitation, and that happened another 6 times, with every transaction being in the region of £80-£200. The sad part of all this is that the member of staff could’ve stopped the man, but allowed him to feed his addiction and lose fortunes in the process, perhaps further into debt too. After losing all of his money the man then burst into tears and smashed his fist into the machine which had hoovered up his money, then forcing his arms around his head, screaming. The equivalent of a decent monthly wage gone in the space of 25 minutes.

Although it may seem otherwise, it certainly wasn’t the member of staff’s fault for allowing these transactions to go through. The fault lies with the gambling companies who simply do not do enough to prevent people from becoming gambling addicts. FOBTs are too accessible, the maximum stake of £50 is far too high and the amount of time between spins is far too short. It’s simply not enough for big gambling companies to stick a dozen leaflets around their shops or put up two posters in their windows telling people to stop gambling “when the fun stops”.

I was talking to a member of staff who works at a very well-known high street bookmaker 2 weeks ago. Shockingly, he told me that if a customer smashes a machine or damages It due to losing money, they shouldn’t call the police, they should just call the FOBT distributor and get them out to fix or replace it. This is all money orientated and a person’s health should not be played with to make huge profits for shareholders.

The problem doesn’t just lie with bookies on the high-street, as I said earlier online gambling is a major problem too. I know that certain online gambling companies ban people who win a lot of money but allow addicts who lose fortunes to continue. I know of successful gamblers who are given a maximum stake whereas problem gamblers, who have lost unbelievable amounts of money, can gamble everything they have.

Now, gambling addiction is rife throughout society and the statistics show that FOBT use (or misuse) is on the rise. Statistics also show that FOBTs can generate up to 70% of a single shops income. The government and the large gambling companies need to talk to people who have recovered from FOBT addiction and then regulate them in a proper and sensible way. Although the machines are a huge revenue boost for gambling companies and a big tax generator for the treasury, a citizen’s health should be the priority for both. Gambling addiction is an illness that has and will continue to kill people. FOBTs are not know as the crack cocaine of gambling for no reason.

Monday, 29 September 2014

My genuine application to become the manager of my beloved Newcastle United.

Dear Mr Ashley,

I am writing to formally apply for the manager's job at your club. I don't have much experience as a football manager, but if you accept my application, I will do ANYTHING you want me to do.

You can control player transfers, the team, the substitutes, the reserves, the formation, the tactics and anything else. You can even choose what I wear, and what I say at press conferences. Also, you haven't got to pay me either. I will work for free. This will enable your fair, moral and just business to generate more profits. It will also make you a lot richer.

Put me on a 23 year contract if you wish. I will take the blame when everything goes wrong (because the fans are that stupid they will think it's really my fault). Then if the results don't go my/your way, you can then sack me to please the loyal supporters.

I believe I'm the best candidate for the job, my honourable friend. My skills are as follows:

I can follow instructions.
I can answer any question, even if the answer has nothing to do with the topic.
I don't like Geordies (nor do you so we're in the same boat).
I don't really care how we do on the pitch, as long as we're making money off it.

I hope this is good enough for you, sir.

Oh, one last skill,

I'm great at kissing the arse of my previous employer. He's a huge, immoral, sad cockney *******. I'm sure that will come in handy at some stage.

I will look forward to your reply.


Liam Lavery.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The current state of NUFC: In less than 500 words.

Life as a Newcastle supporter would be much better if we had Freddie Shepherd back. I can't actually believe I've just said that, but you know what? It's true.

I never thought I'd see the day when a Football Club chairman/owner didn't aspire to be in Europe or compete with the best in the league. Instead, he'd rather sit in a mid table position, above the bottom three and below the top seven. The recent dip in form is music to Ashley's ears. You can see the £££ signs flashing in his eyes.

Masses and masses of Newcastle fans were elated when they heard the news that Joe Kinnear had been sacked. Why? It means absolutely nothing. Firstly, Kinnear did nothing. Secondly, and more importantly, this sacking was just a stunt by Ashley to try and keep the fans happy. Every single move this man makes is a con. 

Moving on to Pardew, I really don't like him as a manager or a man. But that's not the point. He's just a puppet controlled by Ashley. Everything Ashley says, Pardew delivers. It wouldn't make a difference at all if he was to be sacked. The problem with Newcastle is not the manager, but the owner. It's pointless sacking Pardew. The replacement would just be another puppet controlled by Ashley the Authoritarian. 

Authoritarian you may wonder? Banning local journalists to a press conference in October last year was Hitleresque. It was totally unacceptable. Propaganda you may say, well, I would.

If you're thinking "he's balanced the books, that's the priority", then I couldn't disagree with you more. Look at Manchester United and Barcelona. They are in debt, huge debt. Will they ever fold or go into administration. No. So next time we're getting beat 3-0 against Sunderland, just think, is this really great because we are "financially stable"?

So Mike, apart from everything else you're doing a fabulous job. I mean teaming up with Wonga was a great move. It is a really nice company, who aren't loan sharks or anything and who don't prey on the most vulnerable. Can you smell the sarcasm?

I just don't know when the NUFC fans are going to realise what has happened here and do something about it. I really don't want to know what's going to happen next. But hey, Mike, selling our best player a couple of days before the biggest game of the season was extremely wise.

I could honestly go on and on for days.. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Fascism. Racism. No place in football.

You can not be a Fascist without being a Racist. So when i heard the quote "I'm not racist, i'm a Fascist", i didn't quite understand what Paolo Di Canio meant. I'm not quite sure if Di Canio understands what Fascism is. But then again, why would he have a full back tattoo of one of the most infamous Fascist leaders in history if he doesn't understand the concept? You cannot be a Fascist one day and then the next turn into to someone unaffiliated with politics. Doesn't work like that.

The sad thing about this whole story is that Di Canio is actually extremely likeable. If he wasn't a Fascist, i'd really like him.  But since he has publicly admitted being a Fascist and also did the extreme Right-Wing Salute in front of Thousands of Lazio* supporters, he has lost all my respect.

People say "we shouldn't cross politics and football". Well that's absolute nonsense. Does that mean we should just let Racists, Fascists, Sexists etc.. operate in the game? No we shouldn't AT ALL. Remember the campaign "Show Racism The Red Card"? That was set up in order to kick racism out of football. Paolo Di Canio is a Racist. Work out the equation.

By the way, the only reason i am writing this blog about Di Canio now is because i didn't actually realise he was a self-confessed Fascist when he was at Swindon. It only came to my attention (and everyone elses) when he came to SAFC. It's not me being bias, i just don't like racism and fascism.

I was at the NUFC vs SAFC game today and the best team won by an absolute mile. Newcastle were horrific. A tiny, tiny minority of both sets of fans were a disgrace, not everyone (remember that!). After the game, a handful of NUFC fans were rather anti-social in the streets and during the game lit flares were thrown into the NUFC crowd by the away supporters. That's dangerous and too far.

*LAZIO: at the time they'd never had a black player in years. Also, accused their rivals (Roma) of being "Team of blacks followed by Jews". Di Canio's friends have branded him as a "True Fascist" and someone who has had a "huge impact" on football hooliganism with his political ideas. (ITV)


Fascism:  "A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of nationalism and racism."

Racism: "Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief"

Mussolini (Di Canio has a full back tattoo of this man) - Believed to have killed over a quarter of a million people. 

Hilter - Believed to have killed over 12 million people.

Franco - Over 30,000 people.

To conclude, this isn't an attack on SAFC. It's an attack on racism and fascism. If Paolo Di Canio actually apologised for his previous comments (also, tell us what he meant) and explained his tattoo to us all, i may change my views on him.

Liam Lavery.

Monday, 11 March 2013

He is human..

Mr Barton is probably one of the most controversial footballers of all time, but is he really as bad as what people make him out to be?

When you mention his name to someone who has no idea about football, they say "AHH, is that the one who put a cigar out in someones eye?", "AHH, is that the one who's brother murdered someone?" or even "AHH, that scumbag". If that's the reply i get when i say his name, i reply with a simple "no". Here's some small paragraphs for you to think about..

If you look at Mr Barton's life, you'll see that he's done some absolutely despicable things. But, who hasn't? Think about it, have you ever done something you regret? Something you wish never happened? If you're thinking no, then you're lying. What would you do if those "despicable things" were published on the front page of every single newspaper in the UK? I'm sure you'd be upset, i'm sure you'd think "I am human, i do make mistakes".

Mr Barton, in my opinion, is an easy target. If he receives a red card it's as though he's murdered someone; If he gets two footed, he dived; If he swears at the referee, he will receive a red card. An 8 game ban for kneeing someone. Really? Can someone please remind me what LS got for being a racist on the pitch? Honestly, it's as though the world is against him. Is it honestly deserved?

Don't get me wrong, my opinions on Mr Barton change from time to time. I used to love the bloke. He then moved to London and thought he was a Philosopher from the Enlightenment and thought he was a member of The Smiths. The riots he causes on twitter are brilliant. Why do people bite? They still do it. From the wrong "your" to "Beliebers" going berserk.

Some would say that Mr Barton is an inspiration to certain groups of people or "he's a changed man". He was once an alcohol lover, a keen fighter and just a troublemaker in general. But look at him now? He hasn't caused bother in a long, long time. Can people who were in a similar condition look at him and think, "I can make that change too"? Think about it, it's interesting.

Do you know someone who has won a fight? Do you know someone who winds many people up? Do you know someone who expresses their opinions freely? Do you know someone who lives their life the way they want to? You will do. That's exactly what Mr Barton is. Just because he's famous and well known it doesn't mean he's worse. Does it? "He's supposed to be a role model" - Look at the previous paragraph.

I like Joey Barton. I'm not saying i like everything he's done, but i like him as a man. He's changed from the "thug" stereotype, he's fighting campaigns for Hillsborough, he say's what he thinks (some i completely disagree with), and he's just a normal bloke (Definitely not a member of The Smiths or a Philosopher from the Enlightenment).

Take a step back from the all the hatred towards him, and see if you agree with me. Even if it's a tiny bit.

PS: I know for a fact that just about everyone who reads this will disagree with my opinion, but hey, i am entitled to my opinion. Please comment with your opinions too, i'm sure you agree with some of the things i say. (ish)