100 YEARS AGO: DIRTY DEEDS AT SALFORD RACECOURSE
In this story we from March 1918 we take a look at the long-gone Salford racecourse or to give it its proper name, Castle Irwell, which stood on Littleton Road and Cromwell Road and closed in November 1963.
The final race there was held on November 9, 1963, when The Goodbye Consolation Plate was won by Fury Royal, steered across the finishing line by Lester Piggott, no less.
I refuse to call it the Manchester Racecourse as the history books call it, because and let's face facts here, the racecourse was set firmly in Salford, its the same with Salford Docks which was called Manchester Docks in the media, sorry but I refuse to accept that.
Carrying on, you may know that this week is the Cheltenham Festival, a racing event which is attended by 1,000's of people and so I dedicate this horsey tale to those two terrors of the turf accountants, Mike Duff and Ted Taylor.
Salford Racecourse was well attended and one the main races were the November Handicap, this story concerns a Saturday afternoon at the track and the goings on there.
Amongst the crowd were two policemen from Salford constabulary, Detective Sergeant Hulme and Detective Constable, Hodgson both men had their eyes peeled for pickpockets and general miscreants.
They spotted George Parsons who hailed from Birmingham with a large crowd around him, playing an illegal game called, "Spinning Jenny".
A cloth was placed on the floor with the names of a dozen horses on it, the observers would then place their bet on their lucky nag and a revolving pointer was put into motion, if the needle stopped on your horse, you won the amount staked with George deducting his cut for what he called, "working expenses".
However, if the needle stopped on the black line separating the horses, George took the lot, which happened quite frequently, in fact, six times out of nine as the police noticed, a bit greedy there George!
The eagle-eyed bobbies noticed that George had a habit of pressing a knob in the centre of the arm of the needle which miraculously caused the needle to stop on the black line, and George wins again.
He was arrested and charged with illegally gambling on the racecourse and taken into custody along with "Spinning Jenny".
He duly appeared at Salford Magistrates Court the following Monday where he was defended by Mr Desquesnes.
Prosecuting him was the formidable figure of Chief Detective Inspector Clarke a man with a reputation for maintaining law and order in Salford at all costs.
The "Spinning Jenny" game was laid out in court for the Stipendary Magistrate to observe and was demonstrated by D.C. Hodgson who spun the indicator arm and then pressed the knob causing it to stop on the black line to prove that George had indeed been fiddling the punters, he added that this gave Mr Parsons what he called a "clear book".
The Stipendary showing that he did have a sense of humour rebuked D.C. Hodgson saying,
"You must not use those expressions in my courtroom, I am supposed to be entirely ignorant of these expressions"
which met with laughter from the public gallery, but not I suspect from the police.
Mr Desquesnes spoke up for his client saying that he had pleaded guilty to gambling, however, it was difficult to distinguish between one class of gambling and another, also it had not been proved that were was any fraud in connection with this matter and that this was a game of chance rather than gambling.
Chief Inspector Clark didn't intend to let his man get off the hook with a mere technicality and asked for a weeks remand so that he could make enquiries as to why George wasn't serving in the army!
Heaven forbids that the prisoner was not only a gambler and a cheat but an army slacker as well.
Mr Desquesnes questioned this by saying that George wasn't being charged with being an army deserter from his unit and he couldn't understand the request for a weeks remand.
Clutching at the proverbial straws, Chief Inspector Clark said that the Military Authorities "might" want him, note he said "might" and not "do".
The Stipendary refused the request saying that it was going too far to request that the Military gets involved and fined George, £1.
I'll bet George hot-footed it from the court, anxious to avoid the wrath of Chief Inspector Clark and a possible Military Escort, I pity the next man that he arrested.
As I stated at the beginning of this tale, we are in Cheltenham Festival week and in keeping with the spirit of gambling, I have been contacted by that well-known tipster, "Captain's Table" a man who tames bookkeepers, he may be crusty but he is trusty, who assures me that the following three nags will romp to victory this Friday at Cheltenham.
So get your hands down the back of the settee, rifle the kid's money boxes and get your money on these "surefire winners"
Laydeez and Jellymen I give you:
Apples Shikara: Triumph Handicap
Might Bite: Gold Cup
Wonderful Charm : Foxhunters
Good luck and no bricks through my window if they lose and remember, everyone a coconut!