Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Dad's gamble on Kirkland pays handsome dividend


A British bookmaker said on Thursday it was fearing a wave of "copycat" bets on children becoming sporting heroes as it paid out a small fortune after goalkeeper Chris Kirkland made his England debut.

William Hill forked out almost £10,000 (US$19,000) to the on-loan Wigan stopper's father after Kirkland was sent on for the second half of England's 4-0 win over Greece in Manchester on Wednesday.

Kirkland senior had placed a bet some 10 years ago at odds of 100/1 that his son would play for England before the age of 30.

Now bookies are worried that the payout will attract similar bets that could eventually cost them dear.

"We have bets on our books for youngsters to grow up to play football for England, to win medals at the 2012 London Olympics, to win Wimbledon, the Open Golf Championship and to become world heavyweight boxing champions," William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said.

"If only a few of them come off we'll be paying out over a million pounds [US$2million]. And after the Kirkland success we expect to take scores of copycat bets," he said.

One client will collect £16,000 if British tennis star Andy Murray -- who beat world No.1 Roger Federer in Cincinnati on Wednesday -- wins Wimbledon after backing him at 200/1 to do so.

"Over the years we have taken thousands of bets for youngsters to accomplish all sorts of achievements," Sharpe said.

Among those taken include a bet on a two-year-old called Bobby Moore emulating his namesake by becoming England football captain.

His grandfather would collect £100,000 after staking a £20 bet at 5000/1.

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