Ive won the pools! shouted Ben Marsden. Ive got 22 points the jackpot! It was Saturday night pools night on October 17th, 1959, and a more deserving man couldnt have won, for Ben Marsden, an electricity board labourer, was skint.
Fellow-drinkers at the Lake Hotel, near Manchesters Belle Vue dog track, where he was triumphantly holding up the bar, crowded round to slap him on the back. He borrowed five shillings from one of them and sixpence from another and drank a few more pints.
Leaving the Lake Hotel Ben went to the Victoria in Hyde Road, then to the Imperial in Birch Street. That night, as he sipped his seventh pint in the Imperial, he reflected on his good fortune, which would now enable him to move out of Gorton, where he lived with his wife Lydia and four children. The neighbourhood was unsafe, with violent gangs of Teddy Boys on the street corners gangs he loathed and feared.
At 1 a.m. two policemen woke up Bens wife Lydia. A man has died in the street, they told her. He may be your husband.
He was. Ben was dead on the pavement at the junction of Graveney Street and Clowes Street in a place known as Thugs Alley because of the many late night attacks there. He had been stabbed once in the back.
Police were convinced that a Teddy Boy was responsible and swooped on the local gangs. But their inquiries yielded nothing.
Ben didnt even leave a wealthy widow. When police checked his pools coupon they couldnt find a winning line. Even if he had had the maximum 22 points that week it would have brought him only 16 shillings 80p in todays money.