MARCH 16 WILL be a unique day for sports fans in Ireland, with a group of Galway-based Manchester United and Liverpool supporters agreeing to swap jerseys with one another to coincide with the sides’ match at Old Trafford.
The event is being organised in aid of 24-year-old Shane Grogan — a young man who suffered a severe brain injury after he was assaulted while walking home in Tuam, County Galway on 5 August, 2012.
The injury left him needing 24-hour medical care, and his parents are seeking to build a special unit at their house to fulfill his medical needs.
Consequently, an event known as ‘I swapped for Shane’ is being organised to help raise funds to aid him, with fans set to congregate at the Brogue Bar in Tuam ahead of the match.
Speaking to TheScore.ie, Shane’s father Joe explains how the idea evolved.
“A lot of different fundraising events such as cycles have gone on,” he says. “His friends came up with an idea that we would get one of the real die-hard United fans — a fellow called Bart Gormley — to wear a Liverpool jersey, and people would sponsor it. The idea moved on from there, and we thought if we could get a United fan to wear a Liverpool jersey, then we could get a Liverpool fan to wear a United jersey.
“It snowballed from there — once you get one from each side, there’s a kind of domino effect. So there’s a Barcelona fan who’s wearing a Real Madrid jersey now, there are Arsenal supporters wearing Spurs jerseys, and GAA fans are taking part now too.
“At a meeting last night, it came up that the local GAA club would like to do something, so they’re swapping with all the teams in their locality. We’re going to try to get a few inter-county players to do it as well.
“So it’s a bit of fun and it’s a unique event — we searched Google and couldn’t find anything that happened like this before.”
The idea has become increasingly popular since its inception, and Joe is hopeful that people, not just in Ireland, but all over the world, will take part in the initiative.
“It just takes two people,” he says. “I know there’s a lot of bad publicity about Neknominations, but we’re trying to do Swapnominations — you can do a video of it.
“Around the town, it has really taken off, but even people from further afield are joining in. It’s a simple thing, but it means an awful lot.”
Accordingly, the hope is that with all the funds raised, Shane will be able to receive the necessary care required.
“We were hoping to build a unit beside our house where we could mind him full time, but unfortunately, it’s not looking like that will be possible. His injury is so bad that we couldn’t physically mind him, and we wouldn’t have the resources to hire staff on a 24-hour basis.
“We have to build something, because where we live over the town is in the middle of a shop. He will be going to a nursing home in the near future, but we will be able to take him home for a few hours per day and the money raised will be going towards his treatment — occupational therapy, physiotherapy, music therapy, which is a big one, because we wanted that in the hospital, but it would have been too loud.
“Football and music were his passions, as well as cycling and running. It’s hard to talk about him in those terms now, but that’s the way it is.”
YouTube credit: Stephen Cassidy