Paul Merson autobiography

For those interested - Paul Merson: Football, Gambling & Me is on BBC1 at 9pm tonight.


…and he’s up against Pete Waterman at 9 of the clock on Yesterday.

Shall watch our number 2 fan , and his Hornby collection, and catch Magic man on iplayer.

He’s done some right money on gambling 7 million quid and I didn’t know Keith Gillespie gambled as bad as he did either.

Thought it was an excellent documentary & my opinion of him has gone up considerably.


It was well worth a watch some of those stories especially the young women who wanted to be in her dead partners ashes box with him after he’d committed suicide over gambling debt bought a tear to my eye powerful stuff.

Powerful and disturbing documentary.

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A very good documentary and very thought-provoking.

I am by no means addicted but some of the feelings and characteristics described and discussed I could attribute to me in general.

No matter what they say, the betting companies do prey on the vulnerable and do use the data to draw them back in. Instead of leaving it up to the customer to block their account, as soon as they notice mad betting activity, they should close their account down on a moral and mental health basis.

Keith Gillespie was renowned for being a gambler… others include Matthew Etherington as well. Fair play regarding the documentary, there is a lot of people out there suffering with addictions that they certainly do not want to live with. Credit Merson for more awareness to these.


And Darren Wrack

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Of course Wracky. He apparently bet away £500.000 if memory serves me correctly.

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A really powerful documentary. I think we all have a compulsive element in our make up. It just manifests differently with different outcomes, some of which are evidently catastrophic.

As for Paul Merson - his fragility is very well documented and was known before his time with us. On a human level Jeff deserves some credit for facilitating an intervention during Merson’s first season. Promoting him to manager always questionable both in terms of Paul’s own welfare (from a rehab clinic to first team coach in weeks) and that of the football club.


I’ll never forget when an away game at Peterborough had been called off and we had all made the trip, we came back into the centre of Walsall and Tony Barrass, Darren Wrack and a few others were just stood in the bookies next to the Walsall shop in the town. I went for a couple of pints (I was absolutely mortalled because we had been drinking since 8am) and as I staggered back to my bus stop about 3 hours later Barrass and Wrack were still there.

I don’t know how anyone can lose at gambling? i don’t think it is ALL fixed but i know for a fact some of it is.
I was out with a lad once, and he got a phone call from a well known jockey telling him to put £10,000 on the second favourite on a race that HE was favourite to win :joy:
You could see him holding his horse back in the race, trying to let the second favourite through, i think i won about £600 at the time because that is all the money i had on me.
Another time i was with him, he got a call from a top trainer asking him to lay £100,000 on a certain horse, but because of limits we had to travel all over the midlands putting on £!000 at a betting office in Birmingham, then another few thousand at another in walsall and so on until the lot was laid off.
But he was very clever, he was told what odds to take, say it was 2/1 he would wait to see if the odds changed just for a few minutes for them to go to say 3/1, then when it won and nine times out of ten it did, he would give the trainer the winnings on the 2/1 keeping the extra for himself.
After a few months he had made enough to put his own large bet on, he ended up winning over £500,000 and spent a large amount of it building his own property.

There are many footballers and celebrities making money from promoting betting companies.
They should watch the Merson documentary, hang their heads in shame and give all the proceeds to those organisations helping those who are addicted.

Really concerned for teens growing up with gambling apps.

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I’ve known a few alcoholics over the years. One was a young girl who drank herself to death by the age of just 27. I once had a word with the then landlady of my local where the girl mainly drank and asked her to get the staff to only sell her soft drinks when she came in (she knew that she had been diagnosed as a chronic alcoholic and on the way to it killing her - we all did). Her response was that she was an adult and it was up to her - and if she couldn’t get booze there she’d just go elsewhere to buy it. I said yes but her blood wouldn’t be on your hands - didn’t make any difference as she opted to still take the girl’s money into her own till rather than someone else have it.

I think that is the same ethos that all the gambling companies take - if we ban then they’ll just gamble elsewhere and our competitors will benefit so we’ll just turn a blind eye and continue milking them regardless of the consequences.

I do get it that problem gamblers (like alcoholics) are just a small minority of the overall customer base, but you’d think anyone with any human empathy would want to help rather than profit from them.


Well said :clap::clap:

Where do you draw the line though? Tobacconists , people that run / work in pubs, bookies etc.

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Walsalls last home game against Salford , there were 4 blokes in front of me on their mobile phones just gambling and cashing out on this game and that game , I don’t know I dont understand it myself , but they saw very little of the game they were more interested in the other games scores while they were betting.

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I see a bit of that too. I don’t get it either. Go to a game but not watch the actual game.

I have a flutter most weeks but a single accumulator that I only check after the event. Obviously this means I miss out on cash out options but I couldn’t do with checking every two minutes like some.

The thing with having online betting accounts I can see exactly how they reel people in. I ultimately turned my notifications off but before I did I’d get some kind of “offer” most days and at weekends it was off the scale. Usually the offer is about something free. Free bets, free boosts, free scratch card. On lots of this stuff you can’t actually lose. It is so obviously a gateway stimulus. An example would be a free scratch card - and you always win. That win might be 10 free spins on the fruit machines or whatever they call them. You then tend to get a “win” within those ten spins. So that’s three “wins” in about three minutes. They just know that for many many people this will lead to placing ongoing bets or playing the games for longer. I’m no brain doctor but those three wins will be just enough stimulus to reel in a lot of people. The physiological impact just enough to to get enough people digging into their own pockets. And then the supposed safeguards are weak. 2 seconds between spins - really! Set a daily limit that you can override in a minute or zero collaboration between companies meaning you can have a daily limit with ten companies.

I’ve walked around it so but I get why it is so easy for people to fall in. And often society blames the individual rather than the system. Like all mental health illnesses it gets labelled as “weak” or “self inflicted” and yet it is something that is so accessible. If you are trying to recover from drink or drugs, any temptation has a huge hurdle in terms of having to obtain your substance of choice before consuming it. With betting, if you have the internet - it is always accessible. Like a recovering alcoholic with an off licence in their pocket. Or your dealer living in your spare room.

There’s so much more the betting companies could do. The new kids on the block in terms of predominantly online outfits are making obscene profits. They all need to get together and regulate properly.

Without sounding too old fart, I’d love to go back to betting having to be a transaction in a physical space. Wouldn’t kill the problem and for someone like Merson - it was the bookies where it all started. But I reckon it would solve 90% of the issue. Won’t happen - far too much vested interest and I know millions enjoy a flutter without the hint of a problem. I just think we have a huge problem mounting up in the 15-30 age group that will ultimately deliver a huge cost in every way that you can measure “cost”.


I see it a lot at footie matches, gigs, festivals etc., people aren’t engaging with what is around them but with their phone, not necessarily a betting app, but something on there. Seems weird to me, why pay for a ticket and then do stuff you could do at home, or in your local pub?

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