Adam Morris: I’m addicted to football, not gambling

Hibs beat Partick Thistle 3-1 at Easter Road
Hibs beat Partick Thistle 3-1 at Easter Road
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For Hibs fans, the opening match of the season against Partick Thistle was a far more enjoyable occasion than the equivalent clash four years ago.

And for me, a fan of Glasgow’s finest visiting Easter Road for the first time since that game in 2013, it was too – but for vastly different reasons.

Having bet daily and feverishly on football (and other things) for the best part of a decade, I decided to give it up altogether a few months back.

It was the right thing financially, and nipped in the bud a habit that was rapidly plunging towards irreversible addiction territory.

Joyfully, one of the unintended consequences of all this has been falling in love with football all over again.

Back in this fixture in December 2013, Partick Thistle were 1-0 up as full-time approached.

But as I sat in the away end and Hibs equalised in the final minute, I didn’t despair like those around me.

I sat back, looked at the winter sky relieved and quietly clenched my fist. Why was I so delighted that my team had thrown away such a precious victory?

Because it meant I could go to the bookies and collect £60 winnings from a now complete “both teams to score” line.

And that’s how I watched football. Not for the excitement or theatre; but for the “first to score” and “over 1.5 goals in the second half”.

Every day and night there would be something to bet on.

If there were no Scottish games there were English ones, and failing that other European action.

What about Christmas Day? Worry not, there’s a full card taking place in India.

And at night? South American football runs all the way through to the early hours, and Boca Juniors reserves are at home to Rosario Central.

Since I placed my last bet (on the Irish Grand National on April 17) I’ve realised it wasn’t football I was a fan of, it was gambling.

It was only by the grace of God that it never got desperate enough, or endured long enough, for me to lose anything of genuine importance as others have.

But it made my most recent trip to Leith a far happier one.

All week I looked forward to it, even looking out my red and yellow scarf the night before.

Previously, I’d have been too busy trying to pick the next scorer in a smattering of Friday night games.

In the pre-match pub I spoke at length to a friend about his recent holiday.

Before, I’d have been outside seeking a phone signal to get involved in Celtic v Hearts.

Last Saturday was just like a child’s first ever trip to the football, where they walk up the steps and see the mesmerising green pitch open up before them.

A corrosive, destructive habit behind me, I loved every single second of my matchday experience.

That we lost convincingly didn’t matter; football and I were together once more, and I never wanted it to end.

Edinburgh-based Adam Morris is Head of Media for the Scottish Conservatives