Charlie Miller

CHARLIE MILLER - still enjoying quoting the odds at Hove greyhound stadium

BOOKMAKER Charlie Miller, 76, is one of the most well-known ‘faces’ in the modern history of Coral Brighton & Hove Stadium and his association with the track has spanned almost sixty years since he first walked through the turnstiles when he was in his teens.

Born in September, 1947, in Battersea, London, the colourful Miller has enjoyed a passion for a multitude of sports since a very early age and, alongside greyhound racing, he has a penchant for horseracing, rugby union, soccer and boxing.

He can look back with pride on a successful amateur involvement in Rugby Union through the Royal Navy – he successfully wore the number 8 shirt and was never on a losing side when representing the Navy versus the Army at Twickenham.

And, indeed, having qualified for Devon RFU, Miller carried a strong presence in the back row and he fondly recalls that he played before 27,000 spectators in a tie versus Gloucester in 1975.

“Apart from seeing the births of my three children – Kate, Stephanie (a teacher) and Patrick – the biggest buzz I’ve had in my life is appearing before 14,000 people in the Royal Tournament – the world’s largest military tattoo and pageant - at Earl’s Court in the early 1970s,” said Miller.

Kate Miller, the former William Hill PR boss, was appointed director of communications for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2019 and has previously advised clients including the Football Association, Sport England, BAE Systems and Vodafone UK.

No one did more to resurrect the Sussex Cup – Hove’s premier competition for middle-distance greyhounds – and Charlie Miller, who sponsored the big-race at Hove for many years, displayed outstanding PR skills himself to gather individual race sponsors from within the industry.

Miller, whose first involvement with the Sussex Cup in 1997 coincided with the legendary Toms The Best taking the title for owner Eddie Shotton and trainer Nick Savva, was instrumental in putting together a fixture that would rival the ‘Wingspares Festival’ as the most eagerly-awaited greyhound racing fixture at any greyhound stadia nationwide during the season.

He also had strong links with horseracing, as he gained initial experience with on-course bookies‘ at the tender age of 17 while he was on leave from the Royal Navy, and that formative education has stood Miller in good stead for the jungle that a betting ring can be at greyhound and horserace tracks.

CHARLIE MILLER: One f the most well-known 'faces' in the modern history of Coral Brighton & Hove Stadium.

Miller, who ultimately became very astute with mathematics, figures and the intricate mechanics of ‘making a book’, had a natural aptitude for other roles as a floor man and ‘tic-tac’ – a communication system used by on-course layers to signal betting moves and price changes.

Miller cites the late Hove trainer Gordon Hodson, who trained Playfield Royal for HRH Duke of Edinburgh in the late-1970s. as one of the most colourful characters he has been fortunate to meet in greyhound racing.

“Gordon was a tremendous character of a bygone age, a great trainer, especially with the treatment of injuries, and I was proud to be his good friend,“ said Miller. “I used to go open racing with him every Monday at Southend, we had some great times together and he had a wonderful sense of humour.”

Miller also has fond memories of Geoffrey De Mulder, the former dual champion trainer who trained such fabulous greyhounds as Jimsun, Manderlay King, Picture Parade, Pat Seamur, Sarahs Bunny, Desert Pilot, Fearless Action and Fearless Champ.

“George Curtis is a legendary figure in the sport, and I’m a big fan of Hove trainer Seamus Cahill – one of the most sociable people I’ve ever met,” said Miller. “Greyhound racing has been a fantastic way of life for me – I wouldn’t swap my time in the sport for anything else!”

Miller freely acknowledges that the role an on-course bookmaker plays at both greyhound and horserace tracks is part of the entertainment industry and, during the halcyon days, the likes of Jack Cohen and John Banks illuminated betting rings with their charisma, flair and banter.

Miller, a genuine animal lover, has enjoyed considerable success in greyhound ownership during the past 40-odd years - among the best trackers he has been connected to include Generous Artist, Hoof It Katie and Islas Scolari.

As far as the future of greyhound racing is concerned, Miller was emphatic in his opinion that “a night out at the dogs must be fun” and he is keen to promote that his local track can boast a rich heritage that is second to none.

“Hove is the Ascot of greyhound racing, the track where the majority of owners and trainers like most to have a winner and the 455-metre running strip is the finest in the land,” said Miller.

Miller has been privy to seeing all of the famous greyhound racing showdowns at Hove over a very long period and he nominates the final of the 1983 Olympic – Huberts Shade (1st), Hay Maker Mack (2nd), Amazing Man (3rd), Canal Road (4th), Aitch Bee (5th) and Cross Times (6th) – as the “most memorable race I’ve ever seen at the track.”

“The 1977 Regency final when Bonzo gave defending champion Westmead Champ a big start and a beating was a fantastic spectacle,” added Miller. “And, of course, the respective performances of Ballyregan Bob and Scurlogue Champ, who was the sport’s greatest showman, are etched in the memory.”

“I owe a massive debt to greyhound racing and, my message to enthusiasts of live sport in 2020 is quite simple – come racing!”

Written by Patrick Kelly