A Cookstown entrepreneur who was caught in Malaga Airport with a large bag of home-grown potatoes with sunglasses on them in his suitcase is facing up to three years in prison after breaking the Marketing of Potatoes Act (1964) and assaulting a Spanish officer.
The Act, which states that a constable may seize and may detain in custody any potatoes which are being or which are suspected by such an officer or constable of being, sent out of Northern Ireland, hasn’t been used since the great Cappagh Spud Scandal in 1966.
Seamus Sheehey, who admitted to planning to set up a stall on a beach in the south of Spain to sell his 300 potatoes, maintains the heavy-handedness of the Spanish police led him to head-butting one of them and running off, shouting ‘leave my spuds alone yiz bastids’, according to startled onlookers.
“How was I to know about that law? I just remembered how last year I was lying on a beach in Benalmadena and thinking ‘jaysus I’ve love a good spud now’ and the sweat beating off us. I’m sure others felt the same. But there was no need for the Spanish police to start rummaging through my suitcase and throwing my potatoes all over the place, wrecking their sunglasses disguise. It was intimidation.”
Sheehey was already facing community service as well as a ban on being anywhere near a potato field before he headbutted the Spanish officer.
The case brought back memories of the Cappagh Spud Scandal when three Cappagh men were caught at Dun Laoghaire with over 20 tonnes of Tyrone potatoes painted in different colours to resemble large marbles, bound for England.
Inspired by the story of a senior panel from Donegal club Naomh Columba who stopped to help a man turn his turf in Galway at the weekend, Ballygawley outfit Errigal Ciaran attempted a similar gesture whilst driving through Eglish on the way back from a game in The Moy yesterday.
Unfortunately, the attempted act of kindness which involved digging up 300 kilos of potatoes the size of grapes and 600 pallets of unripe strawberries, has left Eglish farmer Phonsie Jordan thousands of pounds in the red.
Clubman Johnny Bradley admitted:
“We’ve cocked up, yes. We thought it would be great PR for the club after we saw the Donegal lads do the same with the turf. We’ve a lot of students on the team and they haven’t really seen fields with spuds or strawberries in them so they aren’t to blame. We just ripped everything up and waited for the farmer to get back, with smiles on our faces. When he lifted that gun we fairly moved. In fact, some lads ran more in that thirty seconds than in the game against The Moy, going by the GPS trackers still on them.”
Jordan, who has been producing high quality produce for 50 years, fumed:
“Shower of do-gooders. Some of them spuds were as small as peanuts. How did it not dawn on them? And green strawberries….holy Jaysus.”
The Ballygawley outfit have vowed to make up for the innocent error by offering their services as scarecrows over the summer for the Eglish entrepreneur, starting with the defenders in July.
Derrytresk GAA’s new manager Joswano Malinko has stunned the senior squad after enforcing a ban on consuming a plate of spuds on the morning of a match, and extending it to turnip and cabbage on Championship days. Malinko, who originally hails from Faro but has been working as a bouncer outside several Dungannon watering holes since 2006, claims there is strong scientific evidence to suggest that a slap of spuds impairs performance for up to nine hours after consumption.
During his first press conference at a corner of the field before the friendly against Maghery, Malinko reminded players he would be checking through windows to make sure the ban was being enforced:
“I have the addresses of everyone and I’ll be doing spot-checks during breakfast. When they least expect it I’ll pop up from under window sills. One of my best friends is Jose Mourinho and I was telling him about the Derrytresk ones eating plates of spuds with their jam in the morning. He took a quare laugh.”
Ex-captain Paddy Mulgrew reckons Malinko has made a big mistake early in his management career, citing the traditional nutritional benefits of the potato before a game:
“I’m a bit annoyed by this. For years we’ve been almost unbeatable at home and that’s undoubtedly the spud-effect. A man with a bellyful of potatoes and cabbage is far harder to shoulder over the sideline. This Portygal boy has waltzed in with his fancy dan ideas like omelettes and orange juice and thinks he’s deadly. Well, we’ll see. There’s boys already talking about filling their boots with spuds and eating when they can during games. This’ll not end well.”
Bookies have stopped taking bets on Derrytresk exiting the Championship in the first round, suspecting they’ll throw it in order to kill the turnip ban early on.
39 towns and villages in Tyrone have agreed to boycott potatoes “for the foreseeable future” after thousands of complaints about how they’re being treated in restaurants and cafes across the county since the 1990s. Customers have finally had enough of being offered continental dishes from baked potatoes to potato wedges when all they ask for is a plate of spuds.
Eskra farmer, Mike Kelly (71), explained their annoyance:
“You go out for a feed of spuds and the waiter rhymes off a rake of fancy dishes like roast potatoes or some other la-de-da stuff like that. What does a man have to do to get a slap of pitters? People are watching them food TV shows like Mastermind Chef or Can’t Dine With Me and now think they’re deadly at the cookin. Not a spud will be bought in this county til people get back to basics.”
Ballygawley restaurant owner John Lally admits this is the nuclear option they never anticipated:
“We’re banjaxed now. If we want to get a Michelin Star for our establishments, or even a half decent review in the local paper, we have to offer dishes that outsiders or experts eat like garlic spuds or potato soup. But our bread and butter daily clientele are giving us some savage abuse every day now. Last week our most loyal customer threatened to burn the joint down because we weren’t doing ‘plain spuds on a plate and nothing else’. What a county!”
The first ‘Save Our Spud’ rally takes place on Wednesday night in Galbally with organisers promising ‘a slap of floury balls’ for all attendees.
Meanwhile, the Garvaghey bobsleigh announced they plan to enter the 2018 Winter Olympics and are training flat out up at the new GAA complex which retains a sub-zero temperature 12 months a year.