After their friend Joe McGrath dropped out of a pre-booked vacation, 9 friends get a total stranger with the same name to take his place.

When a group of pals realised their mate had dropped out of a pre-booked holiday, they had a novel idea to fill his space.

The friends decided to offer the Spanish trip to everyone they could find with the same name as the man they were leaving behind.

Joe McGrath, 21, from Manchester , says he had nothing to lose when the nine friends from Bristol contacted him online.

With a spot to fill on their holiday to Mallorca, the gang had set about finding a stranger to take pal Joe McGrath’s space.

They tried 15 Joe McGraths, asking them all if they would be interested in a free holiday.

In the message, Dan Gobio said flights on the all-inclusive holiday had already been arranged.

He added: “It’s our friend Nathan’s 30th birthday and we decided to throw him a surprise holiday break in Mallorca.

“Unfortunately, our friend Joe McGrath can’t attend, but we have already booked it all up for him.”

But it was only Joe McGrath from Manchester who was brave enough to take the plunge and respond.

Joe, who works on Clint Boon’s XS Manchester show, says he was initially bemused by the unusual request.

But after discussing the idea with his girlfriend Becky, and his boss Clint, Joe decided to travel down to Bristol to enjoy three days in the sun.

He said: “I was at a gig in town when I first got the message and I just thought it was rubbish but it kept playing in the back of my mind.

“I looked at Dan’s profile and after speaking to him on the phone I realised he was genuine.

“Something like this will never happen to me again and I would always regret it if I didn’t do it.

“Clint was giving me advice about it and said ‘it’s a once in a lifetime thing’. We spent a lot of time deciding if it was real or not.

“I didn’t tell my mum what I was doing – she would have worried. I told her I knew Dan from uni.”

Although Bristolian Joe’s name had been added to the boarding pass, his passport number had not.

So Manc Joe simply had to fill in his details, drive down to Bristol and enjoy himself.

“As I was driving down and it was getting dark there were a few moments when I thought, ‘this is like something from a horror film’,” he said.

“When I turned up at Dan’s house and it was all dark I was a bit nervous but as soon as I met him it was fine. There was no awkwardness really.”

Joe hopes to meet his namesake in Bristol when he next meets up with his newfound friends.

“They are such a great bunch of people,” he said. “I’m hopefully going back to Bristol again soon and there might be more holidays in future.”

Despite the serendipitous turn of events Joe says his free holiday could have quite easily been claimed by his dad.

“He’s the only other Joe McGrath I know,” he said. “But he hasn’t got Facebook and he definitely wouldn’t have gone away with a bunch of strangers though.”