A high-profile undercover investigator has shattered an underground refereeing ring in Strabane where up to 30 Tyrone referees meet up weekly and laugh at some of the decisions they made and are going to make the following weekend. Joe Wheeler, the Welsh freelance TV reporter, pretended to show an interest in refereeing this coming season by getting himself into some shape and buying a shiny new whistle.
After an initial vetting service, Wheeler was asked along to the first meeting which was held in an underground bunker on the Urney Road.
“To be honest, the vetting process wasn’t too taxing. They just asked me to blow the whistle three times and point in various directions. That was it. I was in.”
Wheeler was told he’d probably referee a few U16 games in Ardboe to harden him up before embarking on Division Three of the Tyrone All County League.
“They reckoned a few underage games between Ardboe and Moortown would make a man of me. But it was what went on during the meeting that shocked me. All 30 refs took turns in telling yarns about the worst decisions they made last weekend and everyone was bent over laughing. The drink was flying but it was some craic to be fair. One ref said he deliberately turned a blind eye to a player getting the head battered off him because he remembered the lad’s father refused him access to a rampart years ago. They did some guffawing at that one.”
The Welsh reporter was even more astounded when matters turned to this weekend’s matches:
“Remarkably, as well as being given their fixtures to referee this weekend, they were also given a scoreline to work towards. There was a rollover jackpot with all men putting a fiver into the pot which now stood at £490. Anyone who got their score correctly won the dough. A bonus pot of £100 was also given every week to the ref who made the worst decision. This time a ref from Killyman won for sending off a Killeeshil player for wearing ankle socks.”
Wheeler reported that they all agreed to give the following teams ‘a bad touch’ this year: Owen Roes, The Rock, The Moy, Killyclogher, Dregish, Derrytresk, Carrickmore and Kildress.
The Tyrone Referees’ Association were unavailable for comment.
Budding car mechanics across the county are currently reconsidering their career options as it emerged that the National Mechanic Exam Association have removed the final module named ‘Kicking Tyres’ from the examination, despite it being rated no.1 on the ‘How You Know a Good Mechanic’ Which? Magazine survey last year.
The controversial move, which has been described as bureaucracy gone mad, comes into effect at midnight tonight in counties Armagh, Derry and Tyrone. 68-year old mechanic Patsy Muldoon from The Rock maintains he is a lucky man to be leaving the profession and pities the young aspiring car enthusiasts of today:
“I saw this coming. In 2004 they banned car mechanics from tutting and shaking their heads before diagnosing a faulty motor. It was only a matter of time before tyre kicking got the road. See these decision makers – they’re nothing but a shower of goats. I’d doubt any would know a spark plug from a crankshaft. Or even where the engine is.”
Muldoon, who claims to have serviced over 46’000 cars including a 1933 Wolseley added:
“I’ve been kicking tyres since 1949. I know plenty of customers who admitted afterwards that when I started kicking the tyres it softened the blow of my astronomical job quotes as I clearly knew what I was doing. How can anyone trust a fresh mechanic again if the young ones are being told not to kick tyres? I can see the whole business going underground with unqualified mechanics who kick tyres getting all the work and good luck to them.”
Meanwhile, a Moortown driver has been blamed for a fleet of Ford Focus cars being wrongly recalled for a strange persistent rustling noise after he realised he had been sitting on a packet of Tayto which was under his cushion since November.
A local clairvoyant has given in to pressure to stop pestering the souls of the departed after numerous complaints were made via another medium.
58-year old Nuala Brannigan from Dregish has been communicating with the spirit world for 35 years, but agreed yesterday to give it up after an unprecedented number of complaints.
Niall O’Neill, an 800-year old ghost originally of Cloughfin, said,
“She’s a pain in the arse. She’s always on the ouija board asking what the football results are going to be, or the Lotto numbers. As if we know. Just last week she was wanting to know where she had put her Heat magazine, and then blaming us lot for having shifted it. Gadzooks. Can she not just leave us alone? We’re fed up with being pestered. I’ve a whole lock of haunting and ghostly rattling to be getting on with and can hardly do it with that woman bending my ear all the time. And anyway, what’s a Heat magazine? And a football?”
550-year old hangman Ezra Maguire agreed.
“In the olden days people used to enquire about loved ones they had lost or maybe the whereabouts of a sentimental family heirloom. This woman’s constantly demanding ‘horse race winners’ this, or ‘Winning Streak’ that. Anyway, what century is it?”
Conor Kendall, who died in a baking accident in 1963, told us:
“I came into limbo expecting to get a bit of peace and quiet, and it’s nothing of the sort. I’ve got a ‘ghostly haunting’ exam this Friday and I haven’t even bought any chains yet”.
The challenges of being from another world were also pointed out by Kevin the Terrible, a former Viking from Urney who died in 2009.
“It’s not easy being spooky”, he agreed. “Last night I was out working walking the ramparts near the Rock for about eight hours. Jaysus, I was foundered. Well, I would have been if it wasn’t for the fact I’m already dead. It took my ectoplasm an age to thaw out. And to cap it all I had that woman Brannigan inside my bap asking where her car keys were”.
In her defence, Brannigan replied,
“Ah, come on. All I’m after is a wee bit of information most of the time. Where’s the harm in that? It’s the only option I’ve got, because the internet signal in Dregish is rubbish so I can’t get Google. And I’m hardly going to go all the way to Dungannon library to find out how to change the sump on my washing machine if I can get it from the undead”.
The ghost world confirmed that the last straw came on Monday after Brannigan spent over an hour harassing spirits about a number of different topics, including whether Tyrone’s new A5 road extension will ever get built, what setting to use for making a Baked Alaska, and the answer to Channel 4’s Countdown conundrum.
White House officials have confirmed that they will take direct action on Mid-Ulster residents if they persist on using ‘deadly’ and ‘lethal’ in everyday speak, if local councils don’t enforce the ruling themselves. Obama’s Press Vice-Secretary Jake Power reiterated the need for immediate ruling on this issue in order to prevent international intervention:
“We have liaised with officials in Omagh, Dungannon, Cookstown and Magherafelt for two years now over this issue and it looks like they’ve done nothing about it. We intercept thousands of calls all over Europe and if anyone is on the phone to someone from Tyrone all you hear is ‘deadly’ this and ‘lethal’ that which results in our Secret Service Officers going into overdrive. Last week we were listening to a French politician who was talking to a farmer in Strabane about cattle products. The phrase ‘lethal crack in our barn’ was used and we had six fighter pilots on their way to Central Airforce in the middle of the night. West Tyrone could have been nuked.”
Cookstown Council have responded by confirming they have cracked down on the word ‘deadly’ by using on-foot volunteers on the Main Street telling people they hear using that word to tone it down a bit. Volunteer Pat McGrane from The Rock admits it’s a thankless task:
“I’ve had three slaps already. Just this morning I heard an old lady telling her friend that that her husband was a ‘deadly man’ for the scratching at night. I asked her to perhaps think about using a different word and she gave me a mouthful and a dig across the jaw. It’s not worth it. The Americans need to be more tolerant to our ways.”
In other news the White House have also rejected Donegal’s bid to become a part of America.