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Squash Shorts And Vaseline: The Tale Of Bertie Ahern's Foreskin

Paul O'Hara
By Paul O'Hara
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Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern once caught his foreskin in the zip of his shorts before a seven-a-side football game in the 1970s. Oh yeah.

The story was first recounted in a book called "The Good, The Bad And The Funny" by John Scally, whose collections of sporting yarns were ideal dad-presents and bathroom reading material in the 1990s and early 2000s.

In an interview given well before he became Taoiseach, Ahern recalled how he was saved from accidental auto-circumcision by a Vietnam veteran using all his US Army ingenuity - and a shitload of Vaseline.

Another disturbing detail is that he was forced to wear a pair of squash shorts with a zip, which is a unsettling enough mental image without the Something-About-Mary moment.

We'll let the man himself take up the story


He said: "In the early 1970s there was a few bob to be made from the summer seven-a-sides. Because of that it was a very serious business indeed.

"The cream of League of Ireland players were involved, like Ben Hannigan and Eric Barber.

"I was working as an accountant in the Mater Hospital. I didn't have time to go home for my gear. All I had was a pair of squash shorts with a fly and a zip.


"Disaster struck in the dressing room. I got my foreskin stuck in my zip - I was in agony."

Ahern recalled that "a fella from Cork" managed to get him unstuck "Barry - I can't remember his surname - but I will never forget him until my dying day.


"He had lived in America and served with the US Army in Vietnam. At first he suggested I go to the Mater but there was no way I'd agree to that because I worked there.

"Barry then rustled up a jar of Vaseline and a knife and went to work to untangle me... if that's the right term."

The, eh, extrication was a success and Bertie even went on to play the second half.


He added: "I had taken part in the kickabout before the game and my team-mates had no idea why I didn't take my place on the pitch in the first half.

"They played on with six men, but I came on for the second half. That's dedication for you.

"We won 2-1 but the lads never knew why I missed the first half."


The controversial character's apparent fondness for football wasn't dampened by the trauma of the incident, or at least it didn't put him off going to Old Trafford, or pissing off Roy Keane at Dublin Airport.

It remains highly unlikely, though, that he'll emulate the former Bulgarian PM who made his professional football debut at the age of 54.

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