I WENT on a demo last Friday, the first time I had done so. It was never intended to be a VERY public protest; more peaceful than vengeful or malignant.

But the reaction it triggered was astonishing. I still can't believe it.

Unlike others held across the UK in recent weeks, this had nothing to do with war in Iraq. It was trying to persuade a group of major businesses to share some of their enormous profits with another whose raw material they use without paying a great deal for it. I will explain.

I am chairman of the Belle Vue Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association. I have bred and raced dogs at the Manchester venue for 13 years, had a fair amount of success and a lot of fun.

Owners buy or breed greyhounds and pay to have them professionally trained. In the last few years they have become increasingly disenchanted with the way track promoters and major bookmakers view this arrangement.

A grandly-named New Deal has been proposed to ensure owners, trainers, kennel staff and greyhound welfare get a bigger slice of the cake, which represents bookmakers' profits. It isn't having much effect.

A sizeable chunk of televised racing in betting shops comes from greyhound tracks around the country. The demo I attended was staged at Monmore in the Midlands, owned and operated by one of the bookmakers whom we believe don't pay enough for using our dogs to boost their revenue.

A party travelled from Belle Vue. Others came from tracks around Britain. There couldn't have been more than 50 or 60 of us, yet the reaction from Monmore and West Midlands Police indicated that they believed the place was about to be besieged by a mob from Rent-a-Thug, hired to get their point across with baseball bats, house bricks and petrol bombs.

The track management enlisted the help of a security firm who sent a convoy of beefy bouncers. The local peelers turned out in force with cars, vans, dogs, and a female commander who appeared to be loving every minute. Fully kitted in protective clothing and wired up with ear pieces and radio mike, she marched purposefully up and down the road, passing orders to the troops and eyeballing the posse of protesters. I'm from an era where bobbies were always male and find women police difficult to accept, which won't endear me to the feminist movement. Forgive me ladies. I'm an OAP. But one thing's for certain, I most definitely wouldn't have argued with that particular officer.

It rained almost solidly during the three or so hours we were at Monmore and by the end we looked a sorry lot, soaked and frozen. But we stuck it out to the bitter end to get our message across.

I asked one of the security guards if we mixed bunch of mostly grandparents look like thugs. He simply mumbled and turned away. I don't think it was the most eventful morning he had spent.

Other similar protests will follow. Someone was spotted taking photos of the demonstrators, possibly to get us blacklisted by bookmakers. I hope so. It could save me a few quid.