The other night I invited an old friend if mine from the 50s, William,he was an original carpet king, selling indian carets with less than a 1/8 th inch pile at auction.
He gave up working for himself after he met Harold Plotnek,the Birmingham Carpet King, and he became a Harold ace salesman, were the commision was brilliant.
We discussed the death of my pal Don Ruben who tried to mimic Manuel Fangio in his E.Type Jag, hitting a conker tree 10 ft in the air. RIP Kid.
Still on his sweet, of Bread and Butter Pudding, I told him about one evening when I was sitting next to Donald at Rainbow Casino on the Chemmie Table it was the biggest game for ages every big hitter around was at that table table that night.
I had managed to get a seat behind Don Rubin, the croupier did not usually allow this, however as he was my future Brother in Law, he was a little lenient. on the two side’s of Don was Harry Plotnek and Jack Evans (Car Dealer) opposite was Mucklow a giant in the building trade. I had never seen as many chips until Harry Ramsden arrived in the midlands during the 80s,
It was on a thursday I remember it well for although I was getting £30 a week working in a Selly Oak illegal betting shop, I was reliant on Donald to finance, the party we had organised for later. as the game progressed Evans and Plotnek were at the knock out with each other, dictating the play no one else could get a look in.
All of a sudden there was a plopping noise, I definitely heard it although at that very moment Evans was about to do a 6 timer, and the table was full of side bets. what ever it as no one else reacted.
I looked between my legs and it appeared that I was in a Hippodrome Pantomime perhaps Cinderella for my black italian left shoe had turned to green and gold.
I looked into Harold’s eyes, they were blank more concerned with his involvement having challenged the Henley in Arden car King, I looked the other side and Jacks smile was as wide as Bristol Road was long. he certainly wasn’t interested in any £100 loose chip that may have been his.
I sat as stiff as a board who should I front, to claim the 6 inch by 4, Golden Chip I knew that both would claim it, .
Fortunately for me 6 was the end of Jacks run, Plotnek was placing his pot in little blocks like Carpet Shops, in the UK high streets. even done had missed it, the ball was in my corner, what I should have done and did do failed to live up to the way I had been taught, sorry to say I put my size 7 shoe on top of it. spending the next 30 minutes shaking.
William had a smile on his face similar to Jacks had been before the end of his Run.
This informed how much he disliked his Carpet Job.
We then went on to discuss his Gambling Addiction that I had known about for many years, but he still denied. My wife and I had always felt sorry for him, for he was absolute gent,
“Yes you asked me how I could get you off your addiction”
“And what did I tell you to do”.?
“To Waite until the wheel was spinning and then having picked up the salad bowl from the restaurant. empty it on the wheel and duck.
“Why did you say Duck.?”
“Well you didn’t want to ruin your suit did you.
“What happened i’ve forgotten after all these years.”.
“The manager just grunted had 3 people clean up and carried on playing and never mentioned anything to me”
It was my turn to laugh I almost swallowed my bottom part denture. having now realised actually how much he must have lost per year. for the manager to ignore such a incident.
“Yes I also remember teaching you to card count, don’t tell me you still donate money on a regular basis.”
“Card counting was just a boring thing, to do, Who was it who taught you. “?
“As you know I hate repeating something that I was told in secrecy. even if it was 40 years ago and the person who taught me has been dead for 25 years.
“Well he probably forgot it by now,
“Yes but I will probably be seeing him shortly”
Another bust of laughter,
“Go on tell me it all again, how do I win at Roulette”
“You said it was called the 5 minute smash and grab why 5 minutes.?”
“Ok but try and remember it this time. When I was betting at the races, in the late 70s, I used to drop in to ViceRoy Close on the Bristol Road, every other week, and have a coffee with Jack Woolf, one of the original Woolf Gang, along with his brother Solly, William Hill. and Tommy Turner. they made up the Birmingham Boys.”
This was during the early 1920s all of them finished up great Bookmakers, although these were the real team.unlike Thomas Shelby and his team. bothering themselves with Home Rule problems.
Jack would tell me about his time as a milkmans helper holding the horse whilst the Milkman delivered the milk.in a big tall silver container. http://mcjazz.f2s.com/images/Industry/KirkhillDairy.jpg
“One day in the freezing cold he loosed the reins and the horse bolted”.
That was the only time he worked for someone.
Jack with Solly who was a good form student of racing, formed an alliance with William Hill that remained all there lives.
It was Jack’s Dad or uncle not sure who got William Hills pitches back after a default at Wolverhampton. in fact this relationship can be seen in the many racecourse pitch note books that showed William number 6 in all the Midland Rails lists and Jack number 7.
“What did he tell you about his Casino The Wheel Club” in partnership with Bill Cutler.”
“Don’t mention William Cutler ,in 60 years I had a hit list of only 3 people and Cutler was number one In all my life I never met such a flash arrogant individual”.
“As for Jack the Gentleman, he always liked me I don’t know why, he had come from low down in any great expectation, but once on the Bookmaking Ladder, he was off and running, but had a lotto type advancement when he went to Worcester one day and received a phone call through the Blower, asking him to phone William Hill.”
“The conversation I guess must have followed these lines”
“Jack Dorothy has been rerouted to Worcester from Hurst Park, I had been told that she had 5 runners 3 at Hurst Park and 2 at Worcester but they have changed there mind,”
“She has no Bookmaker she can trust, in the Midlands when I am not there,”
Bill was never short of a little arrogance himself”
“I have told her secretary that you will handle all her business, for her,”
“Give her what she wants and just put her bets on top of the Joe Rook (Book) we can settle tomorrow at Leicester. ”
“Jack never told me what happened but his betting style jumped from the Championship to the Premier League. after this opportunity and by tye way she never had a winner all day”.
“I remember asking Jack about the great horse Tudor Minstrel. the 2000 gns winner in 1947. The talk in the village was that Billy had gone bottom up. taking any bet he could against Tudor Minstrel winning, the Derby and his old friends, from the Midlands followed suit including Jack.
Bets as high as 7/1 to 9/2 had been offered at Newmarket guineas day even though every one there that day wanted to back him for the Derby, that was all except William,
It was after the big race when it became clear what had happened,
A letter sent by Tudor Minstrels trainer Fred Darling to The King informing him that Blue Gown had been scratched.
Every one in the stable were were sworn to secrecy,
All though Blue Gown was a fair horse his actual form in 2 trails had been suppressed. it appeared that only William, Gordon Richards and Fred Darling new the truth. he was a much better horse than Tudor Minstrel.
This was the ace in the hole that William had up his sleeve,
What better ace could a Bookmaker have when every one in the land wanted to take evens Tudor Minstrel. whilst William knew that there was a better horse about to be declared, a runner.
“My father Phil who was the midlands Top Tick Tac at Epsom never took his eyes of the William hill team, during the betting but at odds in there was not much William could have done other than pray.
And I can repeat what he told me.
“It may never be known by any outsiders, how much William stood the Minstrel for but what ever it was he never cracked his face before during or after the race,
So the rumours about what would happen if the favourite had won was just hearsay and created by jealous competition of which there was plenty”
“As for Jack I got the same response that I did after my Dorothy Pager, enquiry.when I asked him what he had done in the race”
“Do you want another Coffee Son”
“Tell me what he told you about Casino Gambling. that all I am interested in, we cant do much about the Tudor Minstel Derby now can we”,
Well it must have been December 1961 I was in the Ambassadors very late when sitting at a table was 5 midland Bookmakers
Jack Woolf, Geoff and Wilf Gilbert Bill Cutler, and Bill Moist, every one new that the Laws on Betting Shops was imminent I guess although I would have been welcomed to joined them, and I hadn’t had my confrontation with Cutler at the time I decided to join a table with one silver ring Bookmaker all on his own, I also knew that he was very ill, and having lost my mother a few years before I was sympathetic .to his plight.
“You are not going to tell me the secret of making Roulette pay are you?”
“Why should I you will only forget what I told you as soon as that little ball starts to spin”
2nd Chapter Shortly