June 18, 2024

Sports Enthusiast

Professional Sports Purveyors

Getting Paid to Drink and Gamble, a Book Review

Despite being set predominantly in the world of greyhound racing, Jeff Collerson’s “Getting Paid to Drink and Gamble” is a fantastic short book consisting of tales from the track to the sports journalism office (Collerson is a veteran racing and wine journalist) that are exciting, endearing and educational to the sports betting afficionado.

Collerson is a veteran of the Daily Telegraph – a big Sydney newspaper – and the writing throughout the book is page-turning and uniquely Australian. The coverage of racing and punting (gambling) also has an Australian focus and US or UK readers may require an Australian assisting them with some of the big names, locations and lingo to put the significance of some of the stories into context.

Whether a racing gambler or a racing fan or both, you will only be able to put this book down to have a bet it is that entertaining. If you are a gambling fan and an Australian from the eastern sea-board, I think it is required reading for the knowledge contained within, but also as a way of understanding the way betting and racing was conducted many years ago, and how lucky we are to have the type of racing and betting options we enjoy today.

Mr Collerson covers his early years as a cadet on the punt to the stories he has been a part of or heard first hand in the office with fellow ‘old school’ journos. Most of these are riotously funny, ranging from Frank Sinatra’s pre-show relaxation, to betting $20 with Frank Packer on the result of a fight that had already taken place.

Of the stories detailing racing reporting and scandal, they span from crafty desperate to downright criminal and cruel.

On the lighter end of the scale, one trainer has his unraced but very quick young greyhound marked in the betting bible as a thrice-placed battler – which subsequently gets reprinted in the Greyhound formguide. When the dog is placed at double-figure odds in the country meet the dog is backed off the map into favourite territory and salutes.

Other more scandalous tales speak of corrupt officials, individuals who attempt to sabotage the dog tracks, interference with the races as they are run, dogs that are drugged, handicapped and worse.

The stories really run the range from the weird to the amazing in true “truth is stranger than fiction” form. Collerson has really read a colorful and interesting life.

Pick up this book if you are at all interested in gambling, racing, or both.