Boule-bearing ‘bomb’ scare sinks petanque team’s dreams
WHEN a crack team from the Jersey Petanque Association set off for an international tournament, their hopes of success were high.
But their dreams of winning the veterans’ trophy were dashed when the suitcase of team member Keith Boleat was confiscated by airport security.
His three steel boules, packed in a bag alongside a mobile phone lead, charger and some pain relief gel, were feared to be a bomb.
Mr Boleat had to play with borrowed equipment, and it cost him dearly. His highly fancied, three-man team finished a lowly 21st out of 25 overall at the European Veterans Triples competition in Denmark.
The retired plumber, 63, said competing without his own kit had affected his game. “I’m used to the weight of my own boules,” he explained.
Mr Boleat and his team-mates flew from Jersey to Copenhagen via Gatwick last Thursday. Somewhere on the jour- ney, his bag went astray and was accidentally loaded on to a flight to Amsterdam. Suspicious about the contents. airport authorities held up its onward journey to Copenhagen.
Steve Foster, the team manager, said: “Keith was tracking his bag on some online facility and it was supposed to arrive on the Friday, but then they said it wouldn’t arrive until the Saturday.
“He asked why, and they said it had been searched as a suspected bomb. They are steel balls and I suppose they weren’t sure what they were for.
“I’m not aware of anything like this ever happening before and the reaction from people at the competition was one of amusement. It was obviously unsettling for Keith though, as he had to play with borrowed boules.”
Mr Boleat also had a to wear a borrowed shirt and trousers when an umpire refused to let him play in the jeans he had travelled in. He was reunited with his own equipment a day later.
“All the boules have different weights and diameters so they roll in different directions,” said Mr Boleat.
“The ones I borrowed had stripes, which affects the grip and the way the boules land. I definitely felt I played better after I got my own boules back.”
The team finished second to Germany in the Nations Cup knockout contest, which took place at the end of the tournament, by which time Mr Boleat had his own boules back.
Mr Boleat said he eventually saw the funny side, and that rival teams were amused by his predicament. “There were 25 different countries there and they all found it funny,” he said.
Reunited: Keith Boleat with his boules, which were seized by airport security officials after they mistook them for a bomb
Keith’s bag and its contents