Global flag of friendship-Manchester United’s famous ‘Big Lily’ giant flag has travelled the world supporting the team since 1999. Now the flag, currently the subject of a year long documentary, is set to make history with a new mural on the Peace section of Belfast’s globally renowned, International Wall Murals, where it will be viewed by many of the city’s 9.5 million annual visitors.
Revered amongst United’s 670 million worldwide Supporters, Big Lily has become an iconic symbol, which represents all things positive relating to Manchester United, friendship and passion through football.
Entitled the ‘The Flag of Friendship’, filming has already taken place in Munich, Malta, Madrid, Perth, Kyoto, Houston, Manchester, Belfast, and Dublin this year.
Big Lily creator, Keith Norris stated, “We have filmed amazing characters and events which portray the global passion for Manchester United in a unique manner. This mural will be an integral part of the film and Big Lily’s journey. Further filming is scheduled for USA and Scandinavia. We are seeking to attach influential movers and shakers in the film industry including global broadcaster and distribution partners”.
Norris and Martin ‘Faceman’ Cleary, two friends of opposite religions in Northern Ireland, created ‘Big Lily’. They named it to represent the Protestant ‘Orange Lily’ and the Catholic ‘Easter Lily’.
The flag has many famous friends – from footballers including Gary Neville, Raul Gonzalez and Cristiano Ronaldo – to dignitaries such as Dieter Reiter, Lord Mayor of Munich, Mark Magowan, President of Western Australia and Former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, all of who contribute to the film.
Supporters from across the world love Big Lily for the passion she evokes and what she represents. Manchester United’s 60-year-old Malta Supporters Club invited Big Lily to lead their anniversary celebrations in June and was first recipient of a ‘Wee Lily’ commemorative flag. Perth Manchester United Supporters Club, who in July hosted the Pre Season Tour with Big Lily leading the fans parade to the Optus Stadium, was also presented with a tribute flag with the words ‘Pride of Down Under’ emblazoned on it. Most recently ‘Houston Reds’, a Manchester United fans group in Texas, held a function in which a ‘Wee Lily’ flag personally signed by Eric Cantona, donated by Keith raised one thousand five hundred dollars for the Snowdrop Foundation in aid of paediatric Children’s Cancer Charity (CCCF) in Houston.
There are now a series of tribute flags dedicated to Manchester United legends including George Best, Harry Gregg and Eric Cantona clubs such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Kyoto Sanga, club stalwarts such as Jimmy Murphy, who carried the flag for Manchester United after the Munich Air Crash. There is also a tribute flag to the Busby Babes, which leads a procession each February at the site of the 1958 crash in Trudering Riem, Munich.
Keith Norris said, “ This is an historical moment for all connected with Big Lily. Big Lily represents Manchester United Supporters, irrespective of creed, colour or ethnic background”. “Martin ‘Faceman’ Cleary, my best friend and the co creator of Big Lily sadly passed away in 2007. All endeavours are dedicated to his memory. He would have been so proud, as I am, of this amazing tribute to Big Lily and the fact that we, in some small way, contributed to meaningful friendship across the divide in Northern Ireland and across the world. To think of United’s Big Lily on a wall dedicated to peace and a tourist attraction is truly amazing. The documentary will tell the story of Big Lily’s origins in George Best’s homeland and many global footballing friendships through a shared love of everything Manchester United.”
Mayor Dieter Reiter Munich “Football is about friendship. Big Lily has many friends in football. It is the flag of a deep-rooted relationship. I am delighted to be a friend of Big Lily. She is always welcome here in Munich”.
Harry Gregg “Big Lily is about the ordinary people, the flag that they worship, what it represents and I am very proud of Keith Norris. He has done exceptionally well… and Big Lily has done even better”.
Pedro Chueca Ramon Ex Real Madrid Physiotherapist Currently Spanish National team “United’s Big Lily is not the flag of Manchester, it is the flag of football”.
Premier Mark Magowan, Western Australia “Big Lily promotes friendship and people of different backgrounds, countries, faiths and the like, getting on together which is an important part of the future of the planet. Big Lily helps promote peace and harmony and helps promote people coming to Western Australia then I’m happy with Big Lily. I’m pleased Big Lily played a prominent role in Perth”.