My United: West End actor Simon Bailey

Thursday 09 March 2023 09:00

Simon Bailey has starred in some of the biggest shows in the West End, including Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge. But on and off stage, Manchester United is rarely far from his mind.

Last November, our official club magazine, Inside United, caught up with the actor to talk about his beloved Reds.

Read on to find out how he follows games while performing, which Premier League club has the biggest support in his profession, and even the story behind his own aspiring football career as a youngster...

When and why did you first become a Manchester United supporter?
“I didn’t really support anyone until I was about eight or nine years old. My best friend at school, Alex Jeffries, was a massive United fan and it rubbed off on me, and became the obsession I have now!”
Simon's first visit to Old Trafford came in the 1995/96 season, when United beat Newcastle 2-0 thanks to goals from Cole and Keane.
When was the first game you ever attended in person?
“The first game I attended at Old Trafford was against Newcastle in the 1995/96 season. I just remember being blown away by the ground and seeing my favourite team for the first time. And it turned out to be a good season! Having worked consistently in theatre for 20 years, it’s hard to get to games, but when I can I do, and I love it more every time.”
What makes Old Trafford such a special place?
“Old Trafford is the home of football, for me, because of our history and the players who have been here. Being the Theatre of Dreams also helps, as it’s a home from home for me too.”
Have you ever met any of the players past or present and is there one in particular you would love to meet?
“I’ve been lucky enough to meet quite a few players – I’ve met David Beckham, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and, incredibly, Sir Alex Ferguson, which I’ll never forget. One day I’d love to meet Eric Cantona – true legend.”
Are you a keen footballer yourself? If so, in what position and whose game would you liken yours to?
“I used to be a very keen footballer. I played in goal and was in the first XI in each school team. I even had a stint at Maidenhead United – my home town – when I was younger. It’s lucky I went into acting as, at 5ft 10in, I’m not sure I’d have had a future in net. But I used to scream at my defence a lot, so watching Peter Schmeichel helped my game!”
Who is your favourite United player of all time?
“This is such a hard question! I think if I have to pick one it would be Roy Keane. He embodied everything United represents – passion, desire, and he gave everything for the shirt. That said, I could name another 20 players as my favourite!”
If you had the chance to play in one United match from the past, which would it be and why?
“Champions League final in ‘99, no question. Still gives me goosebumps to this day.”
Simon gets to know the gaffer during a visit to Old Trafford.
How do you follow the games when you’re on stage?
“I have the games streaming on my phone in my dressing room and I also have the stage crew backstage giving me updates when I come off stage!”
What’s the football banter like in the theatre world?
“The banter is actually great. There are usually a lot of Arsenal fans, so it’s one-sided for me as they’ve usually got nothing to come back with, haha!”
What would mean more – a Tony or a trophy for United?
“Can I be in a musical about United and win a Tony for that?”

Finally, what’s your favourite all-time United memory?
“As I’ve already mentioned, the ‘99 final. I think I have to mention Giggsy’s goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup semi- final, Rooney’s overhead against City and Brucey’s header to help win us the Premier League in 1993. There are too many... I just love everything about United!”

You can follow Simon and his career via his Instagram account @SimonBailey1210.