Football bosses make smashing pumpkins

Spoook-tacular derby: Simon McMinnis putting the finishing touches to pumpkin likenesses of Louis Van Gaal and Manuel Pellegrini
Spoook-tacular derby: Simon McMinnis putting the finishing touches to pumpkin likenesses of Louis Van Gaal and Manuel Pellegrini
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A football fan is hoping for a ‘spook-tacular’ Manchester derby this weekend – after carving Louis Van Gaal and Manuel Pellegrini pumpkins.

Simon McMinnis, 31, decided to carve images of the Manchester United and Manchester City bosses to mark Halloween and Sunday’s crunch Manchester derby.

The tiler, from Poulton, has been creating the creepy creations for five years after taking up carving to help recover the costs of growing the giant vegetables.

He is a United fan – but bought the pumpkins used for his latest designs from the Asda store next door to City’s Eastlands home in Manchester.

“I must have done about 75 pumpkins over the last few years, including of the actor James Nesbitt (a United fan) for the One Show and the gardening presenter Joe Swift for the show down near Malvern,

“These are the first football-based pumpkins I’ve done and I think they are up there with my best.

“The Van Gaal one was a bit harder to do and I’ve got to say that’s my favourite with my United allegiance.

“I just hope Van Gaal comes out on top in Sunday’s match!”

Simon, who lives with wife Emma, 31, and their daughter Lily-Rose, two, spent around 25 hours over several days painstakingly crafting the pumpkins using photographs of the two managers.

He did not weigh them but believes they may clock in at up to 15kg each.

His Van Gaal pumpkin shows the Dutchman with a whistle in his mouth.

“It’s a matter of practice and patience,” he said.

“Unfortunately not many people have seen these two because they only last a couple of days and they already on the compost pile.”

Simon started doing carving events after winning competitions and has displays of his pumpkins at Barton Grange Garden Centre. On Thursday he carved pumpkins at Blackpool Pleasure Beach for yesterday’s Vampire Pleasure Beach event.

“I do get requests from people, including for wedding tables and Halloween, but I have to turn most of them down because I just don’t have the time,” he added.

Julie Feeney, people trading manager at Asda Eastlands, said: “Simon is a regular in our store and at this time of year we know he likes to buy our giant carving pumpkins to make his amazing sculptures.

“I’m a blue and he’s a red, so given the time of year we challenged him to come up with something for derby day as a bit of banter and I’m well impressed!

“I’m not sure what Louis and Manuel will make of their pumpkin look-a-likes but we think they are fantastic.”