Gambling ‘started in fun...but it took over’ says footballer

Jamie Tomelty
Jamie Tomelty

Footballer Jamie Tomelty has opened up about his gambling addiction in the hope of helping others.

The Cookstown man - who played for Coagh United FC - said he became hooked after winning £4,500 on a bet ten years ago and it was all downhill from there.

“Like anyone it started in fun...but it took over,” he said on social media.

“I can safely say it’s been pretty much downhill for the past decade,” he wrote.

“I honestly couldn’t care less about money lost…money is easily got again.

“I’m devastated about time wasted and damage caused to love ones…friends and family. “Like anyone it started as fun... but it took over. Having a competitive nature definitely contributes.

“Here’s to the next decade gambling free…but one day at a time.”

The 35-year-old midfielder shared a photograph of himself outside a William Hill and said he was “self excluding” himself from it and all other bookmakers. Coagh United FC praised Tomelty for going public with his addiction.

“As a club we have nothing but pride for Jamie, a man who wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the pitch,” the club said on social media.

“To address such demons so publicly takes a real man, and is a mark of the type of guy Jamie is and why he’s a credit to club.

“If you’re struggling with any addiction, read Jamies story and take strength from it. There is always light at the end of even the darkest tunnel. A man who has to pick himself up is not a weak man for falling, but a stronger man for recovering.

“If you need support through an addiction, click here for more info https://www.mindingyourhead.info/topics/gambling “Jamie’s been our boy for over 20 years. He’ll always be part of the Coagh United family and we will support him in every way we can as he continues along his journey. Our club is for all in the community, and our door is always open.”His former club Portadown United also praised his openness.

“Well done to former Port Jamie Tomelty for being so open about his gambling problems & facing them so publicly. Respect!” the club said on social media.