Fab's shock at match-fixing scandal

FABIAN Wilnis last night spoke of his shock at allegations that his last-ever game as a professional footballer was at the centre of a match-fixing scandal.

Derek Davis

FABIAN Wilnis last night spoke of his shock at allegations that his last-ever game as a professional footballer was at the centre of a match-fixing scandal.

The FA are investigating after large stakes were bet on the Conference match between Grays Athletic and Forest Green Rovers at the weekend.

Sums of up to several hundred pounds were wagered on Grays winning after trailing at half-time and the Essex side came from 1-0 down at half-time to win 2-1.

Wilnis said: “I was shocked to hear about the betting. It seemed like a normal game to me, although nothing was riding on it in terms of relegation or promotion so it had a friendly feel about it.

“But it never felt as if anyone was deliberately not trying or anything like that. In my entire career I have never seen anyone trying to fix a match I was playing in and I'm quite shocked and angry at the thought of someone doing that.”

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The FA were alerted by bookies who picked up on suspicious betting patterns - two firms suspended betting on Saturday afternoon.

An FA spokesman said: “We take these matters very seriously and we will investigate.”

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said under normal circumstances “only a few fivers'' would have been bet on the game, and the matter had been reported to the Gambling Commission.

Sharpe said: “When you have a meaningless end-of-season match you are not expecting to take much money and all of a sudden you are being offered a large number of bets for one outcome and some relatively substantial bets at that.

“It was a 22-1 shot for the home team to be losing at half-time and to win at full-time.

“The biggest sum placed was a three-figure bet so we suspended betting on Saturday afternoon. Interestingly, another bookmaker unbeknown to us did the same thing which suggests this was not a freak occurrence.”

Sharpe said there was no reason for the heavy betting on the Grays v Forest Green game such as occurred two months ago when news spread among fans that another Blue Square Premier side Weymouth would be forced to play a team of youngsters against Rushden & Diamonds.

Dozens of Ipswich Town supporters were at Grays cheering on the popular Dutchman, who was playing for the Essex side, and he admitted it all got a bit emotional.

He said: “Towards the end of the game I asked the referee how long there was to go and when he said 10 minutes I realised they were going to be my last ever 10 minutes as a professional footballer.

“I have to say it got to me and I was going to bits. When the whistle went the tears flowed and it was very emotional for me.

“The supporters were brilliant. There were quite a few Town fans singing my name and it was incredible.

“The betting thing marred it a bit but I suppose it all adds to the final chapter for my book.”

Wilnis will play once more in front of Town fans when his testimonial is played at Portman Road with Roy Keane's Ipswich Town taking on Colchester United on July 25.