No doubt you're on the edge of your seat. He's talking about a book! As you may know, if you read this blog, I'm the man who reads gambling books old and new giving you my thoughts and reviews. Also, more interesting, unearthing some forgotten stories about bookmakers back in the day when they were struggling to survive let alone flying high on the stock market and Top 500.
Anyway, I've been reading Ron Pollard's biography Odds & Sod's: My Life in the Betting Business, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1991. Sadly, Ron Pollard passed away in 2015 at the age of 89 but his book is a goldmine of information - long forgotten by most - about his time working as a clerk for William Hill and later odds-maker and PR Director for Ladbrokes. I can't tell you how many snippets of information I have gleaned from this excellent read. In fact, it is one of the best gambling books I have ever read.
You may think with the passing of time this publication has lost its shine but far from it. Many of the names I hadn't heard of but many I have from yesteryear including celebrities, sports men and woman, big-time gamblers and so much more. It is packed with secrets and I'm sure many of the stories about Ladbrokes and William Hill, literally, send shivers down their spines. I won't go into detail here but you can guarantee that every word is true as Pollard got it straight from the horse's mouth. Some of his statements leaving a nasty taste too.
Ron Pollard was a true gentleman in every sense of the word and trusting as the day is long. He played a crucial role in the success of Ladbrokes being a Public Relations Director. It's a role I hadn't much thought about but his job was to get Ladbrokes' name in the media whether TV, radio or newspaper and he did this like no other. While other bookmakers were stuck in the time warp of tradition concentrating their business with horse racing, dogs and golf, he was dipping Ladbrokes' toe into new, deeper ponds. His first big success was making a book on the General Election after the Jack Profumo scandal which rocked Government. This was just one of many boons. In fact, there was little Pollard didn't get into the media and every step of the way Ladbrokes made a name for themselves on a global scale.
From reading this book you got a real view of a man who was loved by so many. He literally loved Ladbrokes. He also loved politics, and had aspirations of becoming an MP, which he would have achieved if he hadn't put his family first and job security. The stories and insight he details about bookmakers the good, bad and ugly is there to be seen in these 195 pages.
He doesn't pull any punches.
You can get this worthy hardback for less than a fiver on Amazon including postage and packing.
What a fantastic buy.
There would have been no better joy than chatting with Ron about the sports he loved. Of those there were many and the people he bumped into along the way pure magic.
Photo: J.Coote (2023)