Byline: DEREK McGOVERN
BETTING-shop customers come straight from central casting.
There's the big West Indian who wherever he stands somehow manages to block your view of the best SIS screen.
There are the three teenagers hanging furtively round the fruit machine; the two old dears, headscarves on in all weathers, sitting together at the table; the old man and his retired greyhound; the scrawny geezer asking you for a fag; the ugly (always ugly) bloke who claims to know a stable lad in Pipe's yard; the blonde cashier you can't believe doesn't fancy you; and the faintly seedy manager you're convinced is seeing her on the side.
The shops may change but the characters never do. Like some other punters, I am beginning to believe they are all actors, that I'm the only one who ever has a bet, and that my betting life is one giant episode of the Truman Show. Yet all the characters described above, though diabolical, are more palatable than the betting-shop know-all, the one who should have been silenced once and for all by Liverpool's win at Chelsea on Wednesday.
No matter to him that Liverpool beforehand looked massively over-priced at 4-1 - nah, they couldn't possibly win because they never do at Stamford Bridge.
It's the same with Blackburn at Newcastle. They just never win there. And Fulham at Old Trafford. And Southampton at Anfield. Bogey grounds, mate. Back them and you're throwing your wedge away.
The disturbing thing about that last paragraph is that so many …