Aaaah, the Betfair forum. There was a time when it was pretty much the epicentre of the online betting world; a thriving community of lively debate, controversial characters, heated arguments, amusing threads and insightful comments. A couple of years ago, all this changed when Betfair shot themselves in the foot (highly unlike Betfair to make a mess of something that worked perfectly fine, I know) and decided to 'upgrade' the forum, at the expense of the thing that made it so good in the first place - simplicity. Over-night it changed from a quick, clear, simple forum into one that is now much slower, too difficult to quote other posters, convoluted with needless extras like the blog facility, harsher on the eyes because of the bright white background, no thread search facility and moderated to the point of banality. It became a ghost-town for months and is still today, a shadow of its former self.
I was fortunate enough to enjoy the last 2 years of the old forum, when it was still in its prime and a fun place to visit each day. The football forum in particular, was a hive of activity but tennis, horses, chit-chat and general betting were all popular reads. Sure, you had your trolls, P&L liars and even the odd racist pop up every now and then but there were also some very knowledgeable people, some highly entertaining discussion and lots of little nuggets of great information amongst the childish bickering. These days, the nuggets are few and far between and you'll be waiting a long time for any threads of real substance or that don't crowbar the word 'mug' into every sentence.
It seems to be populated much more by youngsters new to betting exchanges and there are less of the more experienced, older traders who will have joined in Betfair's early years. As such, things tend to degenerate into playground slanging matches ('Federer's the GOAT!' 'No, Federer's Nadal's bitch, he's the GOAT!' 'Nadull is Djokovic's bitch, Nole is the GOAT!') or childish insulting of players, whilst screams of 'FIX!' seem more common than ever as newbie punters look for scapegoats for their own incompetence. Of course, this was always the case and there is a tendency for old users to look back with rose-tinted specs but there is no doubt that there was a greater variety of people and as such, a better balance of threads and information than there is today.
My most enjoyable time there was spent on the late night Copa Libertadores matches, which at the time were relatively new on Betfair Video and used to draw a small but friendly crowd of late night punters. They were usually free from the insults and machismo of the day matches and were almost always hilarious because Latin American football is just as erratic and unpredictable as the continent itself. I'll never forget a thread entitled 'Haiti v Suriname............AND IT'S LIIIIIIIIIIIVE on Betfair Video!!'. It turned into a hilarious, all-time classic, stretching over many pages with hundreds of posts - not bad for a nothing game that started after midnight. Here's the highlights (Haiti absolutely battered Suriname for 90 mins but missed more chances than I've ever seen in any game before or since. They were 2-0 down somehow but scored twice in injury time), complete with dodgy camera-work and manic commentary! Go to 5.30 to see the penalty that levelled it (they almost missed that effort too!) - AMAZING SCENES!!
A forum character who will go down as one of the most talked about of all time, is 'odwyer1980'. A particularly prolific poster on the football forum but known right across all the genres, he always courted controversy, derision and debate for his attempts at tipping threads. You can still mention his name to this day and a few hardy stalwarts will pop-up to regale you with tales of his 'Comprehensive Money Making Machine' and other glorious disasters. Love him or hate him, odwyer1980 threads were always the largest and liveliest on the forum and I certainly found them fun to get involved in. I thought it would be nice to catch up with the man behind the moniker, John O'Dwyer, to see what he'd been up to since those halcyon days. Tomorrow, I'll be posting up my interview with him. In the mean time, here's a picture of world number 26, Belgium's Yanina Mug-mayer ;)