Mikey Sheehy: Micko destitched the Puma strip and painted on the three stripes

"I was a Puma man then but I had to change in 1981."
Mikey Sheehy: Micko destitched the Puma strip and painted on the three stripes

24 September 1978; The Kerry team. Back row, from left, Jack O'Shea, Eoin Liston, John O'Keeffe, Charlie Nelligan, Tim Kennelly, Sean Walsh and Pat Spillane. Front row, from left, Mikey Sheehy, Paudie O'Shea, Paudie Lynch, Denis Ogie Moran, John Egan, Ger Power, Mick Spillane, Jimmy Deenihan. All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, Kerry v Dublin, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Connolly Collection / SPORTSFILE
24 September 1978; The Kerry team. Back row, from left, Jack O'Shea, Eoin Liston, John O'Keeffe, Charlie Nelligan, Tim Kennelly, Sean Walsh and Pat Spillane. Front row, from left, Mikey Sheehy, Paudie O'Shea, Paudie Lynch, Denis Ogie Moran, John Egan, Ger Power, Mick Spillane, Jimmy Deenihan. All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, Kerry v Dublin, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Connolly Collection / SPORTSFILE

THE BOOT ROOM: Mikey Sheehy (Kerry), Puma King. 1978 All-Ireland final v Dublin

I was a Puma man then but I had to change in 1981. Micko had done a deal with Adidas and I had a deal done with Puma because I was the freetaker, no other reason. Whoever was taking the frees would have got it because they’d be seen in clips and running up to the ball. They were giving me stuff and looking after me fairly well in those times.

In fairness to Micko, he said to me, ‘I don’t care what you wear. The important thing is the team and you don’t need to do anything. Keep wearing what you’re wearing but give them to me. I’ll do a job on them.’

So he de-stitched the Puma strip on the side and painted on the three stripes.

Micko being the boss, I would have done whatever he wanted but it showed how much of a player’s man he was. The team was being well looked after by Adidas anyway so I didn’t care but Micko took it upon himself to keep me happy and doctor them. He could have railroaded me but he didn’t and nobody knew anything about it only himself and myself.

So that was fine but it was after the Munster semi-final or the final that he got a letter from Adidas that I was to wear the proper boots. Whether they spotted it or not or somebody told them, I don’t know, but you wouldn’t have had the sophisticated cameras back then that you do nowadays.

So I changed to Adidas for the All-Ireland semi-final and final. I can’t recall if I went back to Puma but I wore Adidas a lot of the time after that. Alan O’Driscoll from Cork, who used to play hockey for Ireland, was the Puma guy I got to know through Hennebery’s Sports Shop in Tralee, who were great friends of mine.

When we went on the World Tour in October ‘81, I don’t know whether it was in Sydney or Melbourne we were on such a tailspin, it had been arranged for me to visit Puma's factory and they gave me all the gear I wanted. But boots weren’t a big thing for me. If a gun was put to my head I probably preferred Adidas. They just felt more comfortable.

Blackthorn were the only ones available when I was young and then when I played a bit of soccer with the Park in Tralee the most popular boot in the First Division in England and League of Ireland was Gola and I wore them for a bit.

You look at the boots now and they’re like slippers. When I was in with Kerry as a selector they’d be going through pair after pair and it’s a fashion thing too.

Some might say wearing socks up is like that too. I would have had them up as much as down. It just depended on my mood, for no reason other than that. I wore them up in the ‘78 final and maybe I should have wore them up in ‘81 one too because I had a shit game (laughs). The latter years I had them down. It’s so long ago now but there was a time when I believed having the socks up made me feel more comfortable and therefore more confident. The fact you felt you looked better made you feel better. Most guys then wore the socks down. John Egan used to wear them up a bit and Jacko was another fella. It would depend on the day. No superstition or anything like that.

In conversation with John Fogarty

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