That winning feeling

I won the door prize the other night at Ted Baker. Filling in the card to enter I mentioned to the girl that I was due to win something. At that same moment I knew I would win.

I’ve had feeling one other time many years ago, which turned out to be equally prophetic. How does that happen? How can you possibly know of something – which is purely chance – before the event?

The time before was in 1998 I think, in September. I was working in Shell and one of my workmates came around spruiking a competition his local cricket club was running. The Brownlow medal was about to be contested and the trick was to pick the player from each competing club you thought would earn the most Brownlow votes on the night. Once it was all over the votes would be tallied and whoever had the highest total would be declared winner.

This was a competition I relished, and took on with some confidence. I figured I knew my footy, but then there are few blokes around Melbourne who wouldn’t claim the same. We’re a footy town, and live and die by it.

So the Brownlow medal was conducted and having picked all but one of the top vote winners from each club I went into work the next day fairly confident that I had won. So it proved, and I was handed $600 to stick in my wallet.

A couple of weeks later the same guy came to me inviting me to enter another cricket club competition. This one was more costly at $100 to enter, but, as he said, it was the chance for the cricket club to get some of their money back. I couldn’t say no.

This was a last man standing competition, which is just about a reverse raffle. In the normal raffle the first ticket out of the barrel wins. In this it’s the last ticket that wins.

I was invited to join the festivities one Saturday afternoon and so rocked up with a mate to the clubrooms out Niddrie way. I was introduced as the bloke who had won the Browlow comp, and had the first of several VB’s shoved into my hand. Then the count began.

The room was full and almost completely male. Being a cricket club function it was rowdy and blokey. I listened in with ticket in hand as one number after another was called out. At first there was a bit of noise in the room, the usual beer inspired conversation and laughter. Then, as more and more were eliminated from the contest the silence began to spread. It was becoming serious.

I had gone along without much expectation of winning, but as I remained in the contest my interest grew. When there were about 70 tickets left I knew suddenly that I would win. Part of me scoffed at that, and expected any moment that in fact my number would be called and that would be it. It ran counter though to the inner conviction that I would win, and without any doubts.

Sure enough as more tickets were pulled out of the barrel I remained in the contest. Thirty, twenty, ten remained, then it was into the single figures. When it got down to about 5 tickets I allowed myself to get excited, and at the same time the cricket folk twigged that the same character who had won their Brownlow comp might actually make it a double. There were friendly jests I rebuffed with a smile.

Then there were just the two of us, at which point they briefly halted. First prize was $3,000, second $1,500. The other remaining contender approached and made an offer – why not split the prize money between us, $2,250 each? It didn’t take me long to think about it. For good or bad I’m never one to play it safe. Go for broke, and what really did I have to lose? Not much, besides – I knew I was going to win, didn’t I?

And that’s how it turned out. The next ticket was plucked and to general uproar we found it belonged to him. I had won, again, and everyone was surprised except me. How did I know? Who can say, but I know the wad of cash felt good.

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