Cunning Wagers

OUR contributor CHARLIE HEMPSTEAD was at the Barnet game on Monday - although his mind was often on his mate's money...

AS omens go, it sounded like a good one. A hungry fox wandering in through the open door of my house on the morning of Argyle’s visit to Barnet. Fox, hungry for a goal, maybe? The 7/2 price on offer from the EFL sponsors for the Pilgrims’ midfielder to get his name on the scoresheet was a tad ungenerous, considering that he has scored for us precisely the same number of times as a fox has walked into my house, i.e. once ever, but omens are omens. 

And so it was that a friend of mine, who I was taking to the Hive to watch Argyle for the first time, decided to part with some of his hard-earned Christmas bonus. His Argyle knowledge was low, though, so he was leaning on me for some assistance. 

The alternative was to do some homework before parting with the money. Given that Argyle’s visit to The Hive in March ended in a 1-0 defeat, and that the Bees came to Home Park as recently as November and pilfered the points in a 2-0 smash-and-grab, a 1-0 home win was a pretty good shout. Not only a pretty good shout, but one priced at 8/1.

Think about that for a moment – David Fox was rated more than twice as likely to score a goal as Barnet were to win 1-0. Now, we all know that bookies seldom get much wrong, but here was the exception that proved the rule. No way was Foxy to score at 7/2 a better bet than Barnet to win 1-0 at 8/1. 

No way at all. Absolutely no contest. 

So my pal's £1 was duly placed… on Foxy.

And, like so many before it, never seen again. 

The thing about betting is that it is so very much easier after the event. A £1 treble on Leicester to win the 2015-16 Premier League, the UK to vote for Brexit and Donald Trump to be elected would have returned £4.5 million. 

The odds against Barnet’s winner being scored with a header by the diminutive Mauro Valhete – a player who makes Craig Tanner look like Sonny Bradley – would surely have not been very much less, yet that is what happened. 

So what does all this tell us, other than that the bookies are the ones in the big houses? 

The answer is that anything can happen. If a player can achieve the unlikely feat of hurling an attempted throw-in down the touchline straight onto the roof of the stand, as Barnet substitute Sam Muggleton managed to do, then nothing can be ruled out. 

Even, whisper it quietly, Argyle upsetting Liverpool next Sunday. Sky Bet are offering 6/1 against the draw, making it more likely than the actual Barnet result. 

So the destination of my mate's next Argyle-related £1 is already settled. 

And to mark the auspicious occasion of a trip to Anfield, I’ve managed to convince him to double his outlay and place a bonus bet. 

£1 on a 4-3 Argyle win, with Luke McCormick scoring the winner. "Trust me," I told him. 

"It may sound like a long shot, but before you scoff, just remember who are the current Premier League champions and who is about to be inaugurated as US president."