Belfast Telegraph

Larne rally behind stricken midfielder Scott Irvine

By Stuart McKinley

Larne Football Club has vowed to do their utmost to support stricken midfielder Scott Irvine as he recovers from an horrific injury.

Irvine remains in hospital after suffering a fractured skull, as well as having other bones in his face broken, after a sickening collision with the perimeter wall during Saturday's Irish Cup fifth round tie against local rivals Carrick Rangers.

Club chairman Archie Smyth has described the volume of support received from the Northern Ireland football family as 'amazing' with messages still flooding in via telephone and social media.

A fund has now been launched to help Irvine and his young family as he faces a lengthy recovery period and weeks, if not months, away from his job as a civil servant, with Larne and Carrick agreeing that the gate receipts from next Tuesday evening's rearranged match will go to the player.

"We'd talked after the game that we would have to do something in terms of raising some money," said Smyth.

"The decision was reached to charge £5 admission to next week's game because we thought that nobody would begrudge giving £5.

"Carrick have also played their part in this, because in the Irish Cup it's a split gate and their chairman David Hilditch has agreed to donate their share.

"Scott is an amateur player and the club will support him and his family as best we can too."

The level of support for Irvine goes right across Northern Ireland, with one player from the Premiership making a donation after Larne manager David McAlinden set up a PayPal for those who can’t attend next Tuesday’s match, but wish to do something.

A number of items of football memorabilia are to be auctioned as well, as the local football fraternity rally round in support of the injured Irvine.

A Spain shirt signed by legendary striker Raul has already been put up and former Larne player Stephen Small has also offered his shirt from the club’s Irish Cup final defeat to Portadown 10 years ago — a hugely generous gesture, considering it was Small’s last match before he retired.

Next Tuesday’s match referee Keith Kennedy and his assistants Ken Ross and Stephen Donaldson will donate their payments to the fund while other clubs have started to raise cash themselves.

Ballyclare Comrades have also offered supporters the chance to take part in a half-time penalty shoot-out when they play Larne this Saturday as a fundraiser for Irvine.

The close proximity of the perimeter wall to the pitch at Inver Park has been brought into question after the shocking injury suffered by Irvine, but the club are powerless to do anything about it at their 95-year-old ground.

“This was a freak accident and the first time that anything like this has ever happened,” added Smyth.

“If there was something that we could do about the wall we would, but to remove it would involve a massive amount of work and major costs to the club — although we don’t want to see a repeat of this incident, it’s just not economically viable.

“We would still need something to replace it. Softwalls, like those used in motorcycling, have been mentioned, but they are hugely expensive as well.”

e BIDS for the Raul shirt can be emailed to Larne manager David McAlinden at: dmcalinden28@icloud.com and the same address can be used to donate via PayPal.

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