A British soccer journalist found himself trending on Twitter this weekend, for all the wrong reasons.
Mark Donnelly covers the Sunderland AFC football club for the Sunderland Echo.
He also shares a name with former Vancouver Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly, who became front-page news when the club ended its relationship with him over his decision to perform at an anti-COVID-19 measures protest on Saturday.
When the news broke, the British Mark Donnelly suddenly found his social media exploding.
“I woke up Saturday morning here to see my phone screen lighting up quite rapidly, my first thought was, ‘Sunderland were on the brink of appointing their new coach.’ So my first thought was I’d slept in and missed the announcement,” he told Global News on Sunday.
“Then I opened Twitter to find some interesting messages that probably weren’t meant for me.”
Donnelly turned to Google, and quickly realized what was going on.
After the first wave of messages misidentifying him as the singer, Donnelly said the second wave was quintessentially Canadian.
“There’s been a lot of really nice messages as well, obviously people from Vancouver being really apologetic,” he said.
They were “being very, very nice and very, very kind about this, which is really, really nice to see.”
Donnelly estimated he’s received more than 1,000 messages related to the flap.
He’s also been bombarded with a number of questions and requests — including multiple people urging him to sing O Canada.
Other questions include: can he sing? (no); can he skate? (no); does he wear a mask? (yes); and is he really, secretly, a 60-year-old anthem singer masquerading as a journalist?
“Yes, some people are still not really believing that I am not the Mark Donnelly they maybe think I am,” he said, laughing.
“Hopefully, this confirms I am different to who they think I am.”
The journalist has since muted notifications on his Twitter account, but said it’s been tough because he still needs to use the platform to cover soccer games; Sunderland played on Saturday, and did, in fact, appoint a new coach.
Donnelly is not the first person to be misidentified on Twitter as a prominent Canadian.
Colorado radio host Erin O’Toole found herself on the receiving end of online attention after the Conservative Party of Canada chose a new leader with the same name this summer.
Jason Kenney, a director of communications with the World Pediatric Project in Richmond, Va., shares the same name with Alberta’s premier.
After multiple misidentifications, he’s harnessed the confusion to try to raise money for the non-profit.
Donnelly’s advice to anyone who finds themselves in the same situation is to see the lighter side of it.
“People have responded to the fact I’ve responded calmly and not gone in guns blazing,” he said.
Donnelly is getting married next year and, should pandemic guidelines ease, said he’ll be making a layover in Vancouver on his way to a Hawaiian honeymoon.
As for whether he’d volunteer to sing the national anthem before a Vancouver Whitecaps soccer game?
“Oh, I think the grounds would very quickly empty if that happened,” he said.
“I don’t think they would get many people coming back.”
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