FOOTY: Sip man Footy sells from his cart in Haddo Square, Westmoreland. Alan Lewin photo

Alan Lewin

For more than three decades, Markland Ricketts, popularly known as ‘Footy’, ‘Soupy’ or ‘Sippy’ has been tantalizing the tastebuds of motorists, entertainers and people travelling along the Haddo main road in Westmoreland with his now famous Sip.

The sip, he explains, is not soup, but a meatless dish comprising strictly vegetables, peanuts, peas, corn and ground provisions.

Ricketts, in the early years, started selling soup which was meat-based, but after having travelled in the 1990’s to work for a short time in the United States, he discovered that consuming too much meat was not good for a healthy lifestyle, so he converted his soup to a vegetable-based dish and hence it was renamed “Sip”.

He is located near the Haddo Primary School and has, on numerous occasions, lent a helping hand to students, either by giving them some sip or some money to pay their fares. On a daily basis, like a ritual, several motorists toot their horns in acknowledgement of his presence at that location.

Taxi operator Marlon Brown who has been a regular customer, had this to say about Footy’s Sip:

 ‘Whenever I’m passing, the Sip draws my appetite even if I don’t need a sip. The way how the Sip is so delicious and enjoyable, I have to stop and buy one. I also introduced the Sip to my family and friends, and they also stop sometimes to buy a sip.”

Brown is but one of many persons who share similar sentiments, with the others being local celebrities such as Luciano, Rygin King and Jamaica’s National Football Coach – Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore.

Ricketts, who is the father of five, all of whom he has schooled from his business, generally takes Sundays off to relax with his family.  He says, however, that none of the five children has expressed any interest in taking over the business, as they are all educated and wants to explore careers in their chosen fields.

When asked when he plans to retire from the sip business, he was quick to point outs that he had no plans on retiring any time soon, as it is the Lord ‘s wish to keep him and carry him through.

 “I have no plans on retiring, I’m in the best of health, so I’m making hay while the sun shines, and I have asked the Lord to bless and keep me for as long as possible.”