Now with all this money coming in, Roy decided he would buy a greyhound and run it at Romford. Although he loved a bet, he had no idea about buying one or having it trained. But his old mate Mark who he used to work down Smithfield Market with already owned three and raced them at Walthamstow.
He called Mark and they decided to buy one between them. Mark said he would arrange it all and would ask his trainer at Walthamstow about any pups for sale.
Within a month Mark and Roy were the proud owners of a two year old brindle bitch called Mellow Maisy. She had come over from Ireland and had trialled well on one of the Irish tracks. She was a short to middle distance dog and would be ideal for Romford.
They decided to put her with a trainer called Ronny Gray, he was known as a bit of a wide boy that liked a gamble. He often had big price winners that everyone thought were no hopers but would miraculously win!
After three or four trial runs around Romford’s tight track, Ronny decided it was time the dog should run a proper race. She wasn’t the fastest dog in the world but was far from being the slowest. Maisy was graded as a Grade 3 dog. Grade 1 being the best and Grade 8 the lowest.
Ronny told Mark and Roy that she had an excellent chance of winning her first race, the price would be good as she was an unknown quantity this being her first proper race.
We all went to Romford to see Mellow Maisy on her debut.
The whole of the Marshall clan were there, the brothers and their wives, aunts, uncles, Mums and Dads (mine included), there must have been around thirty of us.
Maisy was in the fourth race of the night. She was a six to one shot. Roy had £1000 to win and so did Mark. I had £100.
The traps opened and out came Maisy, stone last! She actually finished the race twelve lengths behind the winner.
There was a kind of stunned hush over all of us; we just couldn’t believe what we had just seen.
Roy and Mark went to see Ronny Gray.
“What the fuck happened?”
Mark was the first to question Ronny.
“You said it had a fair chance, it was rubbish!”
Ronny was not intimidated by Mark (big mistake because Mark had a fearsome temper and had been a well-known amateur boxer in the East End)
“Listen these things happen, it must have hurt itself in the traps, dogs can do that sometimes, bruise their paw and then don’t want to run, ,l,lI have it checked over by the vet and let you know”
Ronny Gray walked off. No apology, no remorse, nothing.
Mark wanted to kill him, but Roy calmed him down.
“Look, as he said, she’s probably hurt herself in the traps; it’s just one of those things”
They came back and bought a round of drinks for everyone. But I could see by their faces they weren’t going to let it go.
Two weeks later and Maisy was going to run again. She had been down graded because of her poor performance in the previous race, she would now run in a Grade 4 race. This time there were only going to be three of us to see her run; everyone else was convinced it was a rubbish dog. So just Me, Roy and Mark made our way to Romford Dogs in Marks new Bentley.
Mark had done really well since leaving the Market. Like Roy he had saved a small fortune from his ill-gotten gains and had invested wisely. He bought an old warehouse in East London and converted it into an abattoir. He was now supplying a number of shops in Smithfield including the old shop where he and Roy once worked.
Maisy opened up at ten to one; no one gave her a chance. We saw Ronny Gray and he said the same as last time.
“It’s got a real chance tonight boys, a really good chance!”
Roy and Mark both had £1000 each on it and I had my usual £100.
The traps opened and out came Maisy, stone last yet again; once again she finished well behind the five other dogs!
Once again Mark wanted to kill the trainer but Roy talked him out of it.
“Let’s have a drink and decide what we’re going to do”
We did, in fact we had four of five drinks. We watched the winning owner collect his trophy and shake hands with the sponsor. Then about ten minutes later Roy spotted something.
“Heh Mark, look over there right at the end of the bar, it’s our trainer Ronny Gray having a beer with the owner of the winning dog”
Sure enough, there was Ronny drinking what looked like a large scotch with the owner of the winning dog, all smiles and laughs and then the owner slips him something, very casually along the bar. Ronny picks it up and puts it in his inside pocket, they shake hands and Ronny heads for the toilet.
Mark stood up.
This time Roy never tried to calm him down, they both marched off to the toilets. I followed.
I was told to stay outside and not let anyone in.
“Say it’s being cleaned, someone's been ill”
The other two went into the toilets; three old guys came out looking scared. Obviously Roy and Mark had told them to fuck off so as to leave just them and Ronny Gray alone.
To this day I don’t know exactly what happened during those ten minutes in the toilets but Ronny Gray appeared first, his head and shoulders soaking wet and a dribble of blood from his mouth, he looked absolutely terrified and was trying to catch his breath. Two minutes later Roy and Mark appeared as though nothing had happened.
We all got into the Bentley and drove back.
Mellow Maisy won four races in a row after that night, Mark and Roy won close to twenty grand each before they “retired” her six months later.
Whenever we went to Romford dogs and bumped into Mr Gray, he always sent a drink over for us.
Must have just been a misunderstanding!