By SSE Airtricity League Dundalk reporter Ciaran Callan... The Purple Heart is a medal awarded to those in the US Armed Forces who are wounded in the line of duty. Those who are awarded are noted for their bravery and courage. Nothing tops that ri
By SSE Airtricity League Dundalk reporter Ciaran Callan...
The Purple Heart is a medal awarded to those in the US Armed Forces who are wounded in the line of duty. Those who are awarded are noted for their bravery and courage.
Nothing tops that right?
How about a child fighting a deadly illness that really no child let alone an adult should suffer and endure.
That’s exactly what the doctors, nurses and families of the patients of Temple Street Children’s Hospital have to face every day when they pass through the doors of the Dublin Hospital. Founded in 1872, Temple Street is an acute paediatric hospital that cares for 145,000 sick children per year. It caters for children across the country and many children have travelled from Dundalk to be cared by the wonderful staff there.
A visit at the end of the 2018 season with the SSE Airtricity League Trophy and FAI Cup by Vinny Perth and the players of Dundalk really brought home and to light the hard work, dedication and duty of care towards children is undertaken at the facility and so the ball got rolling on doing something for the hospital in order to raise vital funds for such a worthy cause.
“We went at Christmas Eve last year and to be honest it touched us a little bit and I don’t want to sound too profound about it but it was really amazing to spend that day there. It’s a great initiative by the club supporting a local charity and using our name to get their name out there, it’s great for them.”
“It’s about Christmas Eve in Temple Street was probably one of the most amazing days in your life, it's very hard to explain the joy we brought to people with the two trophies with us and it has a knock-on effect. it's not that we are using it as motivation that would be cheap but we are using it as something to drive us on and we continue to do that.”
Vinny Perth, Dundalk Head Coach knows what it is like to live in a home with a sick child, during his childhood he would make regular visits to the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin as his brother was ill with leukaemia. The memories of those visits came flooding back and inspired him and Dundalk to do something good.
“One or two people have had children there at some stages and for me, I had a little brother who was in Crumlin for two bouts of leukaemia. When I went in at Christmas it really touches you and when you see those kids at Christmas Eve and we spoke about it in pre-season and it was like motivation and the players were really touched by it and we spoke about it to say how lucky we are. When the club decided to do this and now this is a competition we want to win to respect the jersey and respect Temple Street. Whether we win it or not but we have always respected that competition, the jersey means a huge amount to a lot of people at the club.”
Following the visit Dundalk set a course to do something, it was a case of not just a visit and leave it at that it began the process of the design of a limited edition jersey being made with Temple Street as the flagship sponsor on the front. The design encompasses two children playing on the front with Temple Street logo emblazoned in the middle. Dundalk chairman Mike Treacy embraced the idea from its inception and travelled from Chicago especially for the jersey launch. It required a lot of teamwork and collaboration from all parties involved at the club to make it happen, no different to what you would see in Temple Street every day. What was to come was a jersey everyone could get behind.
“Andy Burton has been consulting for PEAK6 since last December. His first goal was to work with Ger Cunningham to renew our relationship with Fyffes. Andy and Ger both agreed the Dundalk/Fyffes partnership is bigger than brand and football-- it's about being leaders in the community and using our platform to give back. Fyffes has partnered with Temple Street in the past while Vinny and some of the lads brought the trophies to the hospital on Christmas Eve. Football clubs are often identified through a sponsor on the front of their jersey so Andy and Ger proposed a new third kit to raise awareness for Temple Street.”
“Unfortunately, this is not how new kits are typically introduced-- they are planned months in advance. When David Minto caught wind of this idea, our friends at CX+ stepped up to collaborate on the design on an extraordinarily short timeline. I can't thank Andy, Ger, and David Minto enough for their hard work to deliver our Temple Street Hospital jersey”
It wasn’t just Dundalk players and staff that were getting involved, local businessman Stevie McMullan, the proprietor of ‘Coffee Time’ in centre of Dundalk backed the idea also. His coffee cups have the common Dundalk phrase ‘Come on the Town’ on them, the shop is draped from top to bottom with jerseys and other Dundalk FC memorabilia it has become the somewhat official Dundalk FC coffee house in the town.
Players and staff alike frequent the establishment and various set of fans come in every morning to talk about the news of the day from Oriel. Call it a speakeasy, call it whatever you like its Dundalk through and through. Stevie decided to go one further and he decided to back the initiative. Every time Patrick Hoban or Michael Duffy score for Dundalk he donates to the hospital and fans around the world have been tracking the rising cost on social media. Chairman Mike Treacy saw Stevie’s generosity and decided to match it and the pair met up recently in Los Angelus to share a coffee and the joined bond of doing something great on behest of the club.
You may not think it but for a small business its a big ask.
“Having supported the club since I moved to Dundalk years ago from Belfast I got more involved when Paul and Andy took control I knew a good few people all helping out when I opened Coffeetime. I knew Steve Williams from training my son in goalkeeping each week. Steve was the one who really got me going in business as he is the sales and service rep for illy coffee in Ireland. So I used his connections with Dundalk FC and my own friendship with the FastFix lads to promote the club in whatever way I could just to try to get bums on seats as they say”
“The club started the Temple Street cause which is great and I decided to pick the two most likely to score from the team Pat Hoban and Michael Duffy. I came up with the idea of euros for goals and that's the theme of it so once I announced it on social media there was no going back a few others joined in and hopefully, the hospital can benefit from it.”
While Dundalk is at present on course to completing a historic treble if the stars align right when the season draws to a close and the final chapter is written what will eclipse it all?
Mike Treacy thinks the jersey stands out as the clubs greatest accomplishments this season. While fans ordered the jersey in their droves with some placing an order during the course of the press conference launch online the players decided to go one further and on the night of the EA Sports Cup Quarter Final against UCD they all donated their day's wages to the hospital as part of the campaign. Mike Treacy was full of the praise of the player's hands-on approach to the hospital and it showed how much it meant to them to use their own and club profile to raise funds.
“Trophies are nice, but I would put our Temple Street third kit up there with our biggest accomplishments as a Club this year. I had supporters approach me in town telling me stories of their Temple Street experience that left me in tears. The buy-in from our players was incredible.”
“The players didn't need to give up a day off during an intense preseason for a photoshoot. They didn't need to offer up their own wages to Temple Street. They didn't need to participate in the club's social media campaign on their personal accounts. They did it all and they did it throughout the year. I am so proud to have this group represent our crest.”
While the jersey is an important focal point of the fundraising with a portion of the jersey sales going directly to the hospital it’s more than just the jersey. The money raised will have a direct impact on the workings of the hospital, it’s a source of revenue that they didn’t have until this year. The jersey has been ordered around the world and profile of the club and the hospital has been boosted with its appearance in both the FAI Cup and the EA Sports Cup this season. But Mike Treacy alludes it has become a lot more than that.
“The Temple Street Hospital jersey has become more than a Dundalk kit. It's a sign of solidarity between friends and family who've been in a Children's Hospital. I've had two close friends with children in hospitals this year. Giving their daughters Temple Street jerseys was a very emotional experience.”
“This jersey represents the fight from these brave children who will represent us in the future. It is important we don't lose sight of what is most important in life.”
And for Stevie? How much has the goal-hungry striker and the wing wizard cost him this year?
“Only a few hundred euro so far but I'm sure the boys aren't finished yet it's good to give something back every once and awhile and I'm more than happy to try to make a difference”
Dundalk FC has fostered a community ethos over the past number of years, the ‘Home of Football’ has become a home for so many families on a Friday night. This jersey is just another aspect of that community ethos. Mike Treacy understands the importance of the club to the town and the community and the community to it. It’s an intertwined relationship that for now shows no sign of breaking.
“Giving back to the community is one of the greatest gifts we can offer off the pitch. The Temple Street kit, Fyffe's family day, and players attending kid's camp is what Dundalk FC is all about. We want to be different while also making an impact in the community. We look forward to working with more charities in our community in the years to come.”
You feel that with the creation of this jersey has given the children of Temple Street their very own purple heart. Nothing is more courageous and brave than the fight instilled in a child when it faces illness. If this child makes the difference to even one child’s life then surely it has made all the difference in the world.