A Truly Dedicated 12th Man…

One of our very valued customers Simon Lewis, Head of Production at JD Williams was extremely excited to share with us the news that he featured on the July issue of the Manchester United brochure, The 12th Man.

12th Man Cover

For anyone unaware as to who or what the '12th man' is, it refers to the football crowd and supporters, the first eleven men being the players on the pitch. Manchester United have named their brochure mailed to season ticket holders at Old Trafford, the 12th Man in honour of the dedicated football crowd that support them throughout the season.

The opportunity to feature on the cover of this brochure is a rare and rather exciting opportunity and only given to the most dedicated of Manchester United fans…. and we can certainly report that Simon is exactly that.

We must also say what a great cover he makes! At Gould, as paper suppliers to the publishing industry, we are always fascinated by magazine, brochure and catalogue covers and this is no exception.

Simon at the photoshoot for the 12th man brochure

We asked Simon to give us just a few examples of just how dedicated he is and share with us some of his favourite moments supporting this world famous football team so far:

"Like most most fans (old enough) the 1999 treble season is the stand out experience. I was sat at home watching the 1999 semi-final against Juventus. We were 2-0 down after 12 minutes and my pal turns to me and says "don't worry Si, there's plenty of time left", United went on to win 3-2 and the final awaits. "

We drove the 1,200 miles to Barcelona in 24 hours. After getting the ferry to Calais we decide to drive straight down France and turn right when we got to the coast. It's the best road trip of my life, we took in some late night sightseeing in Paris and the dawn drive through the Midi Pyrenees Mountains was amazing.

We coincidently had friends staying in the team hotel in Sitges and it was surreal seeing the team relaxing the night before the match; we of course went on to enjoy the local night life.

The following night, I'm sat with my pal in the Camp Nou, a couple of blocks back from the left-hand corner flag where Beckham eventually lines up one of the most famous corners ever, we're well past 80 minutes and he turns to me and says "don't worry Si, there's plenty of time left". Even now I won't leave until the final whistle: always BELIEVE."

As part of being 12th man Simon was able to put his questions to Mexican striker Chicharito. His favourite goal he scored was against Chelsea on route to winning the title in 2011. Simon has a different one in mind;

"My favourite Chicharito goal is his injury time winner against Newcastle at the end of 2012. It was a tense and exciting game, after being behind three times in the game and to keep coming back and win it the United way was a fantastic Christmas present.

If I remember correctly the table was pretty tight at the time and with City dropping points (again) at Sunderland it was a big win on the way to being Champions 20."

Simon's interview in the 12th Man brochure

Simon has also travelled abroad following Manchester Utd, including his trip to Barcelona for the 1999 Champions League final. This year he went to Munich for the Champions League quarterfinal and in 2008 he had a daytrip to Moscow for the Champions League final win against Chelsea.

We also asked Simon what his most memorable moment from the 2013-2014 season was:

"The most memorable moment from this season for me was when I couldn't be at Old Trafford. We're playing Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinal and I had to be away for work. I knew my son was at the game with a friend of ours and there I was in a Belgium Bar in downtown Milwaukee watching a team from Manchester play a team from Munich.

The locals jumped out of their skins as the quiet was shattered by the crazy English bloke jumping up and down (on his own) and shouting as the guy from Serbia scored. Separated by over 3,700 miles and six time zones, we still enjoyed the moment."

Simon at the photoshoot

In recent years Simon has even started to collect 'Manchesters', after realising that there are 31 in the USA. It's early days and he has just 4 so far, these are; Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The rules are that Simon needs to get his photo taken wearing his United shirt next to an appropriate sign. In an unusual and surprising twist on the original Manchester, the local high school teams in Georgia are the Manchester Blue Devils.

Manchester, Georgia

Manchester, Wisconsin

This love of football is very much a family affair, Simon's son Jamie (aged 11), is just as football crazy as his dad, being a season-ticket holder as well for four consecutive seasons now. A couple of years ago Jamie started to collect Manchester United scarves, mostly match day and has an amazing total of 57 hung around his room, together with posters, flags, shirts and a couple of life-sized players.

Jamie also appears in the Man Utd promotional video for the 2014/15 season at exactly 1 minute 55 seconds!

And the journey of a dedicated football fan doesn't stop there - Simon states that "in my first season after retiring I'm going to go to all home and away matches, European, domestic and pre-season tour."

With all these experiences combined we can see exactly why Simon was selected for the 12th Man cover. We wish Simon all the best of luck in his quest to take photos of all the Manchester's he can find and congratulate him on his cover feature on the July edition of the 12th Man.