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Death of world's oldest bookie Morry Peter.

Byline: Graham Green

MORRY PETER, the world's oldest bookmaker, died in a home for the elderly in Leeds on Saturday at the age of 99.

One of the most colourful characters in the betting ring and a master of self publicity, he was famous for the motto displayed on his board which read 'Don't be sorry, bet with Morry".

The son of a barber and compulsive gambler, Peter served his apprenticeship at Hove dogs before holding his first racecourse pitch at Chester in the early 1930s where he brushed shoulders with William Hill, Joe Coral and Ladbrokes founders Cyril Stein and Maxi Parker.

Fo o t a g e o f P e t e r e x i s t s o n, on duty taking bets at the 1959 Grand National at Aintree in a Pathe News reel.

At its peak, Peter's empire consisted of 12 betting shops and 23 racecourse pitches that were the foundation of a successful business which lasted over three generations, with his son Andrew and grandson Richard following in his footsteps. The family stopped operating on course when taking advantage of the introduction in 1998 of the auction process to sell their pitches.

Leading the tributes yesterday, former bookmaker Leslie Steele said: "I bet next or close to Morry for years and he was a real character. I remember that to promote his place betting, he nailed a large plastic fish on the top of his board with the slogan 'Plaice only'."

Another former colleague, John Ridley, recalled: "Morry was a very confident bookmaker - brash, shall we say - and he was very good at self-promotion. He was a small, rotund man, but you would always see him eating before the first race, normally fruit.

"Morry used to do a daily double in which he would offer a price about horse A in race one and horse B in race three which obviously wouldn't be the best bargain in the world, but punters were getting 12-1 for perhaps two 4-1 chances. Some people said that was a way of generating income in case he had a bad first race, but whether that was true or not I don't know."

Richard Peter saw the eccentric and larger-than-life personality at first hand having worked with his grandfather.

He said: "When Lincoln racecourse, where Morry had a very successful betting record, closed, he made all his staff wear undertakers' clothes on the final day of racing. Punters thought they were at a wake rather than a race meeting.

"When I joined the business in the 1970s, Morry and my father would take a pair of scales with them to the races. As a joke they would weigh me like a jockey before and after racing to make sure I'd not nicked pockets of change from the hod bag to supplement my pocket money.

"In the 1960s, to rival the Miss World contest, Morry took wagers on which girl employed by a bookie would win Miss Betting Shop at a contest in London.

"His crazy idea hit the national news when he was inundated with bets for certain beauties who he had employed as 'good-looking runners'.

"His personality and laughter kept him going and at the ripe old age of 99 he still gambled and could work his Betfair account."


Morry Peter: betting since the 30s
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 10, 2009
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