15 April ~ I'm a Spurs fan. This is the perfect opportunity for us to reach another FA Cup final. I settle down in front of the TV. I've bought myself a special bottle of Belgian beer for half-time. After an hour I have a bad feeling. Spurs are labouring, moving the ball too slowly. How we miss Aaron Lennon. Extra time comes and goes and I feel flat and disappointed like all Spurs fans. However, I am £40 richer. It's time to confess. For the last 15 years I've been consistently betting against my team. It makes perfect sense to me. If you're going to be let down by your team at least you should benefit financially. And yet, well, let's just say my habit provokes strong emotions among my footballing friends.
How did it come to this? I was a Spurs member during the 1980s. Ricky Villa, the UEFA Cup win in 1984, Hoddle, Waddle, the Clive Allen season; when they got it right it was fantastic. I had a real passion for the team. The degree to which I enjoyed my weekends depended on the Spurs result. Glenn Hoddle was my hero. I made sure I got to the ground early enough to watch him warm up. That alone was worth the admission money. I once wrote to the then England manager Bobby Robson explaining that he should be picking Hoddle for a number of reasons. To my amazement I received a detailed reply from the great man pointing out that he wanted to try some younger players and thanking me for my interest.
In April 1985, Spurs played Arsenal at White Hart Lane. I travelled to the game with a good friend of mine (an Arsenal fan). I was in the North Stand and he went in with the Arsenal fans. Arsenal scored first. Spurs then pushed forward without really coming close (although the ref turned down a blatant penalty). Right at the end Arsenal broke and Charlie Nicholas scored their second. He celebrated by doing that jig where you raise your knees as high as you can. I was filled with such rage that had my friend appeared at that moment I would have punched him in the face. I'm not remotely violent but I was ready to take anybody on that night.
So where did that passion go? Gradually it was diluted by girlfriends, marriage, children, the rubbish Spurs side of the early 1990s, more live games on TV, more expensive match tickets, overpaid players who dive too much, Andy Gray. The plain truth is that as I got older Spurs meant less to me.
I've always loved gambling but there has to be a bit of skill in it. I went to a casino once and was bored stiff – it was all total luck. Sports gambling is all about spotting decent odds and beating the bookmaker on something you know inside out. I picked Zach Johnson to win the Masters at 150/1 (only £1 each way but still pretty impressive). But when it comes to football my best results have been betting against Spurs. This season the home defeats against Stoke and Wolves were wallet stretchers for me. You won't be surprised to hear that I won loads when Juande Ramos was in charge.
"Call yourself a fan?" is the most common accusation levelled against me. What can I say? Spurs are still my team, always will be. I just like a bit of insurance for when they inevitably trip up in the great Spurs tradition. Do I feel like a traitor? Sometimes. Perhaps it's in my character to soften life's disappointments by not fully committing. Or am I just being practical – I know my team's eccentricities, I've been following them for forty years. My wife once asked a question that bothers me to this day. "At which point does the money become more important than the result?" I'm still working on that one. Keith Robertson