Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.
Ticket touts, love them or hate them, they’ve been a part of football for a very long time. Some would see them as taking tickets away from genuine fans, whereas I see a tout as filling a gap in a market, entrepreneurs who supply a demand.
I started touting tickets at Arsenal home games in 1971 when I was 17 years old. Me and my mate Eddie knew a tout called ‘good looking’ John from Hoxton, ironic really because he was an ugly bastard. He arranged introductions to Fat Stan Flashman and that’s how we got started. It was a good earner and along with a couple of other scams we were involved in, meant that we always had money in our pockets. In the early stages we only concentrated on Arsenal games but it wasn’t long before we started working at other London grounds. It could get a bit dodgy at times, where some fairly tough heavies would approach us and warn us off from their patch, but it never progressed from threats to violence.
Unlike another scheme we got involved in, Fly Posting, now that could get heavy at times. There was good money to be earned from record companies for putting up posters around London so some largish gangs developed. Eddie and I worked alone so had no back up if things got violent. On a couple of occasions we were caught by other fly posters, posting over their work and consequently, we suffered a few right handers plus the bastards would take all our posters and our buckets and paste. We didn’t stay in that game for long, the risks were too high. So we branched out with tickets for music concerts, other sporting events and film premiers. Flashman could get tickets for anything so once a week we would visit his office in Kings Cross and negotiate bulk deals on tickets. He’d be sitting behind a massive desk with several telephones in front of him which never stopped ringing.
The police generally cast a blind eye to touting but on one occasion we were working in Leicester Square, selling tickets for a film premier. Unbeknown to us on that evening, some fake tickets had been sold and the cinema had called the police. When they arrived Eddie and me were the only touts working so they arrested us for supplying fake tickets. However, when they got us to the police station, on examination our tickets turned out to be kosher. The bastards still charged us though for touting and we were to appear at Bow Street Magistrates Court the following morning. But to show you how the police viewed touts, they gave us back all our tickets and gave us one hour to return to Leicester Square and sell them.
The following morning we turned up at Bow Street MC expecting a small fine, fifteen or twenty quid maximum. The magistrate though had clearly not slipped his missus one that morning and was in a foul mood. He looked at us and said, Mr K and Mr D, the police report says that you had in your possession over £1200 between you, you are clearly earning a great deal of money from this deplorable activity, I will therefore hit you where it will hurt most, you are fined £150 each, to be paid immediately. We were fuming and calling him all sorts of names under our breath.
Now days, ticket touting is done mainly through the internet and has become an even bigger business, generating something like £1bn in Britain in 2014 and tickets for big games can go for £4000 – £5000. As long as tickets have been acquired lawfully, I see it as an honest transaction. If there is a demand, there will always be ticket resellers earning a profit.
Interestingly, Eddie and me used to sell all our tickets at Highbury and then we’d pay a couple of quid to a geezer at the turnstile to let us into the Upper East Stand. We’d wait for the game to start and then take two empty seats. On only one occasion did the rightful seat owners turn up and we had to consequently move. Despite how people may view what we were doing, for us it was a good laugh and a nice little earner. We didn’t see anything wrong in it and ultimately, people without tickets managed to get to see a game.
Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo. Matchday and the Orcs are in town. We need to avenge the physical mauling we received in Mordor a couple of months ago. I want to see Sanchez rip these bastards apart. Enjoy the game where ever you are, until the next time.
GunnersoreArse, a free Sunday supplement for you to enjoy over breakfast. If it was 1971 I’d probably be working out ways to profit from it. But times and people can change for the good.