Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine


Poker Training

Newsletter and Magazine

Sign Up

Find Your Local

Card Room


That Old Sheepskin Coat

by 'Mad Marty' Wilson |  Published: Oct 24, 2008


As you know, I recently returned from Las Vegas. And the most wonderful thing happened to me upon my return home, involving my old sheepskin coat. But let me start at the beginning …

Cast your mind back to 1978. Liverpool had won the Championship, and Ipswich town won the FA Cup 1-0 when 40,000 raving lunatics from Ipswich went to Wembley. Bjorn Borg won Wimbledon, and Bobby Baldwin won the World Series of Poker. Something else happened in 1978 that changed my life. Lord Louis Mountbatten died that year.

It had happened the week before I was playing darts at the Chindits Pub in Wolverhampton. The Chindits Pub was named after a famous battle in which Lord Louis Mountbatten had fought in World War II, and on the pub's opening, he had presented them with a tapestry. The tapestry in that pub was absolutely worthless until Lord Louis Mountbatten had been killed the previous week, making it worth a small fortune. But it had hung in the same place in the Chindits Pub for 20 years.

I had gone there to play darts for my team, the Hotpole Beans. It was the last match of the season, and we were tied for the championship with the Chindits Pub, and I was the anchorman. There were nine on each team, the score was four all, and one leg all, and to win the league, I required only double five. I had one dart left. I glared at the double five and took my aim. My balance was perfect, and before it hit the board, I turned and shook the hand of the man on my right, as I was that confident that our Beans had won the league. We had become champions for the first time. Our team captain, Graham Finch, was absolutely delighted with me, and we celebrated that night in good old English style. Of course, I was the last to leave the pub.

Three days later, there was a knock at my front door. It was Wolverhampton Special Branch Police, and they had a search warrant to look for the Lord Louis Mountbatten tapestry that was presented to the Chindits Pub when it opened, but was now missing. The police came in force, and they were in for a treat. They searched the house but couldn't find the tapestry. Then, a Sgt. Phillips had the brain wave of his life to look in my loft. And what he found there would stay with him for the rest of his life.

When he lifted the lid to the loft, he thought he was in Aladdin's cave. The loft had been reinforced with hardwood and contained more than 400 car tyres, all spaced out. You see, Goodyear's tyre factory was just behind where I lived. They had high security on the front gate, high security at the back, and a Mr. Stephen Widgen in charge of the whole operation. This guy could spot mouse droppings from a mile away. But what they all hadn't realised was that there was a hole in the tennis court's fence that led you straight into the factory. It was like taking sweets from school kids. I and my friend, whom I cannot mention (because Rob Angelo told me not to tell anybody), used to take tyres to order - Ford Capri, Ford Contina, Triumph, Herald, any size for any car. The loft was sectioned off according to size - 13, 14, 15, or 16 inches.

On discovering the tyres, Sgt. Phillips ordered two removal vans and took 400 car tyres and me to the police station. I tried to tell him that I had absolutely no idea where the tyres had come from, but it was to no avail. They contacted Goodyear, who said they had no report of any stolen tyres, and then contacted Chapel Ash Tyres, who also reported having none stolen. But I was still held in Winston Green Prison for one week on remand. In the meantime, the Lord Louis Mountbatten tapestry turned up in a phone box on the Birmingham New Road. Whoever stole it had had the decency to ring the police and let them know. Nobody could find out whom the tyres belonged to, and after I had done the hardest seven days of my life, behind bars in Winston Green Prison, I was eventually let out.

But this all happened 30 years ago, and you're probably wondering what it has to do with my old sheepskin coat. You see, my mother and I have been at loggerheads over its disappearance for the last 30 years. And just after I got back from Las Vegas, I went to my mother's house for a visit. I got this old train set down for my grandchildren to play with, and lo and behold, I found an old braided jacket that I wore as a young man. When I checked the pockets, I found an old gold-leaf cigarette box with three cigarettes still in it, and also in the top pocket was a cleaning ticket for Sketchleys Dry Cleaners. I suddenly realised that for 30 years, I'd accused my mother of selling my sheepskin coat in her nearly new shop, when in all of the confusion of being locked up in Winston Green Prison, it had completely slipped my mind that I had taken the sheepskin to Sketchleys to have it cleaned!

Well, I had to go to the dentist, and next door to the dentist was Sketchleys, in the same spot that it has stood for more than 30 years. For a practical joke, I took the cleaning ticket in with me. The date on the ticket was Nov. 30, 1978. I handed the ticket to the lady. She looked at it and said, "If the item has not been claimed, it usually goes to a charity shop unless it's sheepskin or suede."

"Funnily enough, it was a sheepskin," I said. She went to the back and returned carrying three coats. The top coat I recognised instantly. It was my sheepskin coat from 30 years ago. "That's my coat!" I shouted. "That's my coat!" I reached out to grab it, but she snatched it away.

"Sorry, sir," she said. "It won't be ready until Friday."

Mad Marty Wilson is a professional gambler and poker consultant for Matchroom Sport.