It must have been a brave man to bet £50 at odds of 5,000 to 1 at the start of the season on Leicester City winning the Premiership, but his bravery ran out in March when he cashed it in for £72,000.
Only time will tell if he’s kicking himself if Leicester do pull off the miracle, but it does seem rather likely with just five points needed from three games to bring the club its first ever title.
It’s a fairy tale story, as the pundits keep telling us, the romance of the game. A team from outside the mainstream, one which was fighting relegation this time last year, about to win the big prize.
‘Something we’ll never, ever see again,’ opined Mr R Savage on Radio Five Live yesterday, before going on to reminisce about the last time such a thing that would never, ever be seen again when Nottingham Forest won the old First Division in 1978 having only been promoted the previous season.
Lots of reasons have been put forward for Leicester’s success. The shrewd appointment of Claudio Ranieri as manager, the work ethic instilled by Nigel Pearson, the previous manager, buying the right players for a song, like PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez who was signed for just £400k, good luck with the lack of injuries to key players, not to mention a lacklustre season for the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
But watching the match yesterday, I think I’ve sussed out the real secret of their success – the groundsman. The photo above appeared on Twitter and illustrates the intricate pattern of mowing that looks like something from an Escher lithograph. The opposing players must forever think they are about to fall into the abyss or leap over illusory barriers to make any progress upfield.
It set me thinking if other teams are trying a little lawnmower trickery to bamboozle the opposition and I came up with the one on the right from Southampton which you’d have to say looks like water swirling round the basin and down the plughole. That probably isn’t the message they want to give their players and it seems they have taken no notice in any case as they are lying comfortably mid-table.
I predict a new breed of ‘groundsmen psychologists’ being employed at every club trying to emulate Leicester’s clever ploy, and then a bunch of specialist advisors to teach the players how to handle this new gamesmanship, perhaps through the use of pre-match, virtual reality simulations, hypnotic visualisations and art therapy.
Nothing would surprise me in the mad, money flooded game of football. Except perhaps and unfashionable team like Leicester winning the league. Dreams can come true, just not very often, so make the most of it and have a ball.