04:28PM, Tuesday 14 April 2020
It’s been nearly five years since the Slough Town midfielder Scott Davies last placed a bet. His life has changed immeasurably in that time, and now he’s helping others to recover from their own gambling addictions and get their lives back on track.
A promising midfield prospect in the professional game, Davies’ hopes of reaching the top of the game were gradually driven off course by his compulsion to gamble.
Desperately trying to cling onto the champagne lifestyle he’d become accustomed too, his gambling addiction spiralled out of control. The former Reading FC and Crawley Town player was in a vicious circle, chasing his tail to recoup losses. Over the years he lost the deposit for a house, some £30,000 squandered in just 15 days.
He crashed his car while watching a horse race, and he was sleeping in his car after matches because he couldn’t afford to drive it home. He believed he could gamble his way out of his problems, but instead those problems mounted. And, when he began cutting himself with a knife underneath his pecs, he finally turned to his mother telling her he’d ‘had enough’.”
“There were all sorts of problems I couldn’t cope with and the problem was that I was hiding it,” said Davies.
“Gambling is a dirty word and people think you’re being selfish or you’re unintelligent, or from a broken home or a dysfunctional family. But I was brought up in a really nice family and went to a good school. For me being young, having money and time on my hands was just a recipe for disaster. Being competitive was also the worst thing. I hated losing matches and I hated losing bets the same way. I always thought I could win the next one. Before I knew it I was in a vicious circle I couldn’t get out of.”
“I was living on my own in hotels, away from family with not much to do,” he added. “Gambling gave me the same hit as football. It was a similar rush to playing well or scoring a goal.
“By 2015 my mental health had taken a beating. I started scratching myself with a knife underneath my pec. I knew that wasn’t a normal way to feel so I went to my mum and said that I’d had enough.
“She had caught me in the bookies and I was so ashamed. I moved into the rehab clinic for 26 days and it helped me rebuild trust with a lot of the people around me.
“I tell players now that a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s the motto I live by now. I tried to deal with all my problems myself which is one of the worst things you can do.
“Because I’m not qualified to deal with these problems. I didn’t have the tools of the mechanisms to deal with it at the time. As a footballer if you tear your hamstring you get help from the physio, but when we’ve got a problem with our minds we choose not to speak about it, which is ludicrous because your brain is the most important part of your body. I was overloaded with feelings I couldn’t cope with anymore, but I knew that when I came out of rehab I was ready to go and attack the big, wide world again.”
Admitting he had a problem was key. He was checked into rehab at the Sporting Chance clinic and came out 26 days later ready to change his life for the better. Not only that but he became a public speaker for the clinic, helping others to avoid the traps he fell into, and has since joined the Epic Risk Management group – a gambling harm minimisation organisation – and travels the county speaking to professional footballers at EFL clubs about the dangers of gambling. He even featured in a video with Wayne Rooney as part of the organisation’s ‘Stay in Control’ series.
Scott started his career at Reading and has since had stints at Crawley Town, Aldershot Town, Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town before dropping out of the game due to his addition. He’s now back on the football field, doing what he loves best for Slough Town on a part-time basis. His is a cautionary tale but it’s one he hopes will help others struggling to fight their compulsion to gamble.
“I go to professional clubs, from the Championship to League 2 and I tell my story to the first team,” he says.
“And if any player is struggling they can contact me after the session. When I tell the story there is obviously emotion still attached to it, but I can quickly step away from that and switch between work mode and my life now. Otherwise I’d be looking back at what I went through and how it
affected me and I don’t think I’d ever recover. Some of the things I talk about are rather close to the bone, but at the same time I get a lot of satisfaction and reward from it. It’s something I love doing.
“I talk about my story. It started when I was 16. I started playing online roulette machines and was in the bookmakers betting on horse racing.
“As my career progressed my wages were getting bigger and I started to put down a lot more.
“I started betting on my own matches. I lost my deposit on a house in just 15 days, which was £30,000. I crashed my car whilst I was watching horse racing. When I was playing for Crawley Town I was sleeping in my car at the stadium because I couldn’t afford to get home from training or after a night match. There were loads of things that I couldn’t really cope with at the time.”
On his work for Epic he adds: “It’s just given me a new lease of life,” he said. “It combines my two passions. Football and helping people with gambling issues. I never thought when I placed my first best I would end up in a job like this but I’m so grateful for it because it’s turned a negative in my life into a positive.
“It’s led me down a path I could only have dreamt of. It’s given me a rewarding job and I can show others they can get through it. And you don’t have to be a footballer to get in touch with me. It could be a Slough Town fan or a Maidenhead fan that’s reading the article. People can always reach out to me because I know how hard it can be to beat this yourself.”
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