Ex-Newcastle player would ‘get by on £5-a-week’ after gambling wages away

A former Newcastle United player was forced to get by on £5-a-week due to his gambling addiction.

Karl Colley joined Newcastle from Sheffield Wednesday as a mere teenager, having signed his first professional contract aged 17. His time with the Magpies coincided with Sir Bobby Robson’s tenure, though the youngster spent much of that period with Peter Beardsley in the reserves.

His dream move quickly unravelled as he descended into a cycle of depression and gambling, having been overwhemed by his solitude in the big city. Colley’s regular appearances at the bookies meant he would quickly blow his wages and be left with mere pocket change for the remainder of the week.

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He told the Undr The Cosh podcast, via the Mirror: "I was surrounded by gambling growing up. My dad was a gambler, my grandad and uncle were gamblers too. My dad used to leave me outside the bookies but you couldn't see what was going on inside. You could just hear the commentary, I was always intrigued.”

Colley continued: "When I'd leave Newcastle's training ground, the only place I'd feel safe was the bookmakers. I was like a lost kid in a big city. When I'm at the bookmakers for hours on end I'm obviously gambling more money and it's getting worse - but that's my safe place."

He detailed his compulsive betting habits, saying: "When I was betting nothing else mattered. That's when you know you have a problem. My month's wages would be gone in a week, maybe less. Thousands of pounds. I remember living on a fiver at Newcastle some weeks."

Karl Colley
Karl Colley has opened up about his demons -Credit:UnderTheCosh/Youtube

The player joined his boyhood club Sheffield United soon after, where he was released as a 19-year-old. He later went on to be sacked by Goole after an altercation with a fan during a match for the East Yorkshire club in January 2014.

Aged 30, Colley reacted to taunts from a Coalville Town supporter by attempting to punch the individual in the stands. The ex-skipper received a fine and a contract termination. His off-field issues led to two stadium bans, initially a six-year exclusion followed by another five-year prohibition set to expire this summer.

His gambling addiction followed him as he spiralled down the English football pyramid. While Colley continued to put on a cheerful face in front of his team-mates, the reality was that he was secretly suffering from depression.

Football - Goole v Coalville.  Footballer runs into the stands to attack a fan after he gets sent off for a foul. Goole Town AFC player Karl Colley charges into the away stands and appears to throw a punch, after losing his temper when a rival supporter yelled abuse at him when he was given a red card. He was sacked by the East Yorkshire club.  ..
He joined Newcastle as a teenager -Credit:Mirror Screen Grab

The former prospect candidly said about his time in Non-League: "I was just playing to pick up money, that's all I've ever known, playing for money. I wasn't in the right frame of mind, I was still gambling, still suffering from depression.

"Nobody was aware of it because I hadn't opened up yet. People knew I was a gambler but the depression and where my head was at - nobody knew.

"You'd see me on a Saturday and I'd be smiling and laughing with a few quid in my pocket. Nobody saw me struggling the other six days a week, f***ing breaking down and facing my demons."

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.