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Those Were The Days

Didn't it used to be so much easier? Think back to a time when you could leave your front door unlocked, milk money was left on the step without fear of being stolen, shopkeepers knew your name and would sell you baccy for your dad.

The birds sang sweeter, the grass was greener, and the world was a much nicer place. Ring any bells? Sociologists call it "golden age theory". In our minds we convince ourselves that 'things used to be so much better', 'life was so much easier'.

We can't help doing it. It's a natural progression as we get older. How many times have you heard your dad or grandad harp on about 'back in the day'? 

Even as early as your mid-twenties golden age theory will kick in usually regarding women. "I wish I was still going out with so and so, she was brilliant, we had some great laughs". It's something everyone finds themselves doing at one stage or another.

Thus, it is merely nothing more than a natural psychological progression that this romantic ideal should continue and transcend into "our world", the world of the sports gambler.

The re-emergence of the underdog, the punting nightmare that was the World Cup, the seemingly 'unpredictable' nature of Wimbledon, the constant grumblings about 'shaved margins' and shocking punting opportunities have slowly but surely allowed golden age theory to creep in and cloud the judgement of even the most experienced punter. 

How many times lately have you found yourself complaining about various aspects of gambling?

"It used to be so much easier, I could get nine out of ten on a fixed odds coupon every week, now I cant even pick a double. I used to get yankees up all the time, now it's all rigged and the jockeys don't even try".

So, what we must decide is whether or not these grumblings are valid? Did gambling used to be a lot easier than it is now or are there other forces at work? Lets look at the 'evidence'.

Many people recently have pointed out that snooker used to be so much more predictable, in the 80's you cleaned up by backing Steve Davis, in the 90's you put your mortgage on Stephen Hendry. 

 
 

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In tennis you just had to walk into a bookies and say 'Pete Sampras' and two weeks later the friendly bookie would happily give you a wheelbarrow full of cash.

The World darts championships regularly provided punters with holiday money, in the 80's it was the Crafty Cockney, in the 90's The Power brought home the bacon. Football was easier too wasn't it? Liverpool used to win every week and the bookies always made them even money shots at home to Norwich.

There is however, one slight problem with all of the above. 
It is total and utter rubbish. 

Let's start with life in general 'back in the day'. There WAS a shed load of crime, the world WAS just as evil as it is now, and people WEREN'T any happier during the blitz. 

There was war, depression, poverty and starvation, yet we are convinced we missed out on a bygone 'golden age', purely because a few Londoners sung songs in tubes stations and warded off Adolf.

Regarding golden age theory leaving us pining for the lost love of our youth, the one ship that passed in the night, the love of your life that you let slip through your fingers? Again, total and utter bollocks

Most relationships end because we want them to end. In times of loneliness, or when you're feeling a bit down, you think back to an old girlfriend with rose tinted glasses. You remember great sex, good times, holidays, yet you conveniently 'forget' the cellulite, the time she farted in front of your mates, not to mention the constant nagging about her being "worried about your gambling".

Thus, it leads me to conclude that we must dismiss the allegations of a bygone golden age of gambling, when we all won hundreds every time we went to the track, or every Saturday on our coupons, with much the same cynicism as I dismissed life and love. Shocks DID happen, and just as frequently as they do now.

For every Steve Davis there was a Joe Johnston, For every Eric Bristow there was a Keith Deller, For every Liverpool F.C nailed on certainty there was always a Wimbledon waiting just around the corner. Indeed, for every single 'banker' we must always, ALWAYS be aware of the banana skin, that WAS, IS and ALWAYS will be just around the corner.

Indeed, there is an argument that we now are living in the 'golden age' of gambling. Show me another time this century when the punter had the statistics, knowledge, and know how available at the touch of a button. Show me a time when there was more choice of bet, a bigger variety of bookmakers, satellites beaming sports live 24hours from around the globe.

Show me a better time to be involved in this great game we call gambling. You can't. It's impossible. We are living it right here, right now. 

So next time a David Nalbandian or a Senegal breaks your heart, don't harp on about how it used to be different. Just embrace the fact that it's the nature of the beast. 

Harold McMillan once summed up the 1950's with a sentence of pure golden age theory. A sentence that could have been written for the modern sports gambler. "You've never had it so good".

 
 
 

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