The pontiff recently announced that there were no oxen or donkeys present at the nativity; a startling revelation which set the Tenner Bet to thinking.

Which is a dangerous thing, I'll concede. Was this part of a revisionist strategy by the church to get down with the kids, an attempt to reach out to da yoof? How did Mazzy and Joey get there, if not by donkey?

The revelation certainly stuffs up a couple of songs about the birth of Christ. The modernists' interpretation of Aled Jones' favourite carol might go something like this: 'Little Segway, little Segway, had a heavy day / Little Segway, Little Segway, carry Mazzy, safely on her way / Ring out those mobile phones tonight, Gangnam Style, Gangnam Style.'

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Or perhaps not; it's hard to say.

What's easier to establish is this: in these times of wise men and shepherds, there are inevitably fools and sheep. The Tenner Bet is one of the latter. I have a woolly back, I am easily led and by the time I have realised my mistake I am usually halfway over the cliff's edge. In other words, if you want a decent bet over the Festive period, follow a wise man; if not, stick with the fool.


Speaking of Christmas, Tottenham Hotspur continued to hand out the presents in defence at Everton last weekend, turning a hard-earned 1-0 win into a shambolic 2-1 defeat in the space of 120 seconds.

One stat revealed that had matches ended after 80 minutes then Spurs would be top of the Barclays Premier League but, until Andre Villas-Boas finds a way to solve his side's propensity for conceding late goals, they will continue to be an astute bet in the both-teams-to-score market.

Tomorrow they host a Swansea City side that has been upwardly mobile in recent weeks but which suffered their own blip at home to Norwich City. It is interesting to note, though, that, even in defeat, they would have paid out on the goalrush bet.

On their last visit to north London, Michu scored twice in a memorable 2-0 win over Arsenal and, with Tottenham's defence as vulnerable as turkeys right now, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that they he will do so again. Tottenham, meanwhile, are in the bottom three for clean sheets but have scored in all but one fixture this season.

In Scotland, Dundee United might have one of the best defensive records in the top flight but this week they host an Inverness side that has scored in every game this season. United are not too sloppy in this area either, having only failed to register in four of their 16 games to date.

The question mark is over United's fine clean sheet record but Inverness are the SPL's top scorers and had no such problems when the sides met at the end of September, when they rattled four past Peter Houston's side.

United are a different proposition now, though, and it should be a tighter game all round which bodes well for a winning bet. Finally, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham are taken to complete the treble.


The Manchester derby was a stick-on for goals last week and so it proved. The galling aspect of the Spurs defeat was assuaged, albeit slightly, by the payout of £17.10 which took the season's profit to £23.16.