Today I'm going to tell you a story about a friend of mine by the name of Kevin Spillane. Unfortunately Kevin passed away this year but he left such a lasting influence on me that he will never truly be dead.
I could tell you many funny stories about Kevin each one more hilarious than the next but I thought of one in particular today and felt I had to share it.
It all happened a few years ago when we were in Tenerife for a poker tournament. One day we were walking through the town and we stumbled across this makeshift bookies in a pub and being the sick gamblers that we are naturally enough we went in and had a few bets.
There was two guys running it and in fairness to them they had a lovely little business because the place was fairly jointed and it was a bar too and it was just full to the brim with exactly the kind of punters you'd want. Old. Clueless. Betting €5 ew on 33/1 shots because it has Alice in it's name and their wife is called Alice and it's probably like 150/1 on Betfair.
Anyway were having a few muggy bets ourselves and we have a good time and we actually win a few quid. So towards the end of the session I see this football sheet with all the prices for that night and they're absolute hold up prices most of them. Except one. Burton. For whatever reason Burton are down as 7/4 but in reality are no better than 6/5 anywhere. So I show Kevin anyway and he wants to have everything on it. I kind of agree with him so I decide to go along with it. Luckily for the lads neither of us were going too well at the time so we end up having something like €400 on it between us. So we walk up to the counter anyway with the slip wrote out. "Burton to beat Plymouth Argyle €400 @ 7/4."
Now basically this is not only for sure the biggest bet they've laid that day but probably that year and maybe even ever. And it's on fucking Burton. And in fairness to the wannabe bookies they lay it. First guy looks at the other guy and they shrug their shoulders and they lay it. Fair dues.
So we go off anyway and we're sweating the match on live score and it's 0-0 for the most part. Then around probably minute 70 or so Plymouth score and we're fucked. Now Kevin was also one of the greatest after-timers that ever lived. It's at times like these that you realise how Kevin got his nickname the bull. Because that's exactly what he was like.
"That was a fucking horrendous bet to make." He declares.
"Like we know absolutely fucking nothing about Bournemouth or Plymouth or whatever the fucking team was. Sure I don't even know what fucking division they're in or anything."
Without further delay he calls the bar man over and promptly orders two fernet brancas to calm himself down. A drink I've never heard of and with a taste so bad I'll never forget it.
Then Burton score. 1-1.
With just over five minutes left I knew they were going to win it. As sure as night follows day they were going to win because all the worlds a stage and us merely actors.
Minute 91. Burton score. 2-1.
As you can imagine it was just cheering and shouting and hugging and clapping and before too long it was full time. We'd won and all the wisdom which was being dished out 20 minutes previous was not only forgotten it was like it never even existed.
"Jesus Christ bhoy ten years ago I would have had 20 grand on a bet like that."
All I could do was laugh. And we laughed and we laughed and we laughed. I even had another fernet branca to celebrate.
The next day we go to collect and the two boys can't get out of their chairs quick enough when we come in.
"You lucky fucking Paddies! How on earth did Burton come back to win that game? Jesus Christ we were celebrating like crazy in the John Bull when Plymouth scored. We were sure we were gonna win. But what on earth made you back Burton?"
Bollox. What to say? I was floored. If they had seen my face it would have been similar to a ghost. How did I never think they'd ask that? But it didn't matter. It didn't matter because I had Kevin.
No sooner had the question finished than the answer was out without even a flinch. A combination of a wry smile and just the slightest hint of nostalgia. I'll never forget it.
"Ah. I used to go out with a girl from Burton."