Greyhound racing. It’s hardly Ascot is it? Yet it’s a wonderful, authentic part of London that’s slipped gradually away along with jellied eel and the fried egg sandwich. The largest one in Walthamstow, far beyond the perceived edge of civilisation for most of today’s Londoners, shut in 2008 and just three of these once ubiquitous stadia survive in London today (Crayford, Romford and Wimbledon).
Ok so if I’m going to sell this to you it’d better be good, right? After all greyhound races either brings up visions of celluloid gangsters screaming “dags, get the dags!” (a la Brad Pitt in Snatch) or grimy visions of an elderly relative, a sea of flat caps and childhood boredom (a la my actual childhood)...
Because there are so few tracks left however, they’ve had to change massively – from offering the bare bones of service to middle aged “enthusiasts”, several (including the one at Wimbledon which is my local one) now have fine dining restaurants, offer corporate packages and scrap car / dirt bike racing. Diversification has become key, meaning the tracks are after a younger and larger audience, so they have to offer good night out for all.
So here’s my pitch; it’s a good wholesome laugh, it’s cheap and it’s unusual
What more do you want from London’s nightlife? You can spend two hours queuing outside a club before you pay £10 just to enter , or you can get a drink in an actual bar and watch an exciting race happen just for you. It’s cheap, because, well it’s just cheap – you can turn up pretty much whenever and if you don’t want to use the recently opened restaurant for food you don’t have to – I haven’t actually worked up the courage to take the girlfriend out there for a night but I am sure I will one day soon. Unless you have a serious gambling problem already I don’t think a flutter on some dogs will set you back more than a fiver, and the feeling of watching your dog utterly trounce your mates’ choices is actually worth it even if you lose in the end.
Thirdly, and best of all, it’s fairly unusual. You can quite easily make it a one off or a once-in-a-blue moon event, and it’s still more fun to talk about than cramming into the stands to watch a football match. Ascot it isn’t, but if you fancy a unpretentious, real London experience , then this could really be for you.
TOP TIP Bring a group of friends who’ve never done it before!
Author: Joe Casey
Marketing and Media Executive at Giveacar (an awesome Social Enterprise started by pals of Stickyboard. Giveacar raises monies for great charities via the scrapping of unwanted cars)