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‘I won £900 and got fined £10,000’ – Martin Gleeson opens up on infamous betting scandal

In 2004, St Helens were preparing for a Challenge Cup semi-final against Huddersfield Giants shortly after the traditionally tough Easter period.

Prior to their Challenge Cup semi-final they took on Champions Bradford Bulls and Ian Millward rested many of his top stars to refresh his squad for the clash against Huddersfield.

Knowing this, Saints star Martin Gleeson and Sean Long placed bets on Bradford Bulls to win and win they did despite Gleeson scoring a try for Saints on a day that Long did not feature.

Now Gleeson has spoken about the incident on the Out of your League podcast.

“It was pretty insane. I was £9,100 down at the end of it. What happened was, I think we were in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup the week after,” Gleeson said.

“It was like the old Easter Friday and then Monday game. We had beaten Wigan on the Friday and then Basil (Ian Millward) came in all red eyed like he always did.

“He had been on the p**s all weekend with David Moyes (then Everton manager).”

Teammate Jon Wilkin then added: “At that stage he said ‘we’re fielding a weakened side. He was basically fielding the reserves, which included me, he sort of let that be well known to the guys.

“At that stage that is where the issue.”

Gleeson went on to explain why they got caught:

“It was against Bradford, at Bradford. I had broken my thumb at the time so I didn’t play in the Wigan game on the Friday which is the one with the big fight.

“I hadn’t played for a few weeks so I was the only one that was included who was a regular at that time. He’s basically like ‘it’s only a four or six start with the bookies’ so everyone was on it.

“We got caught because we’re stupid. Everybody else is driving around with loads of cash, and me and Longy (Sean Long) ended up opening an account with Stan James.

“We thought it would be alright because they won’t know who we are. So it was Bradford minus four with the bookies, and we knew we were going to get beat by 40.

“We opened the account in our name, it was really stupid. Back then you also didn’t have to say what your 21-man or 19-man squad was prior to the game, that didn’t have to come out.

“So you would rock up to the game, and there were two famous commentators on it at the time too who saw which players got on the bus to the game.

“I actually scored the first try. I wasn’t trying to lose. I still went out there and did my best.

Meanwhile, Jon Wilkin revealed that he did not get sent off intentionally:

“I think an interesting point to this is that as players you are put in a situation where you have inside information and you can’t share that with family or friends – technically anyway.

“The accusation was it was match-fixing, that they were betting to lose and would go out and purposely lose. It wasn’t like that, it was betting on the inevitability of a result we knew was coming – because Bradford did slap us.

“From the point Longy and Glees got banned we went to s**t. If you had worked the table out from that point we actually finished second bottom of the table.”

Gleeson then went on to explain the impact of the punishment:

“By the time we put something on it, everybody had already placed their bets and the bookies had stopped taking bets on it – so Stan James was the only place that was taking bets on it anymore.

“The actual bookies weren’t bothered about it, but an individual within it saw our names and sold the story to the papers – that’s the story anyway.

“The Daily Mail knocked on Longy’s door and asked him if he had placed a bet on the game, and his response was ‘no but my brother did’.

“I just had to take the four-month ban. It wasn’t malicious. It wasn’t like we were trying to do it in a bad way. It was just ‘oh, we can get one over on the bookies here’ – it was an academy team against a great Bradford side.

“I’ve never had another bet. Me and Longy and a few mates went away for a week at the start of the ban, we went down to Newquay, that was a mad week, but then we just got back into training and got massive.”

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