Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan’s life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

It was a normal Saturday for football super fan Simon Dobbin.

The dad-of-three had been looking forward to watching his beloved Cambridge United take on Southend on March 21, 2015.

But after the game he was the victim of a planned brutal attack that lasted just 90 seconds and has left him unable to walk or talk.

The DIY SOS team now hope to ease the daily agony for Simon and his family by transforming their home so it suits his needs.

Presenter Nick Knowles admits the build is a "challenge".

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin with wife Nicole before the attack which ruined both their lives
(Image: SWNS)

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Simon’s wife, Nicole, and his daughter, Emily, outside their home after the renovation
(Image: Warren Gunn)

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After Simon had spent a year in hospital, and defied doctor’s warnings he wouldn’t pull through, his brave wife, Nicole, made the decision she wanted to care for him at home.

Both she and daughter, Emily, desperately want Simon to have some privacy.

He currently has to sleep in the family living room and hasn’t had a bath or shower since his return home.

Nick Knowles said: "The family home is totally inadequate. He doesn’t have his own room or a wet room.

"His bed is in the open plan living and dining room and he has no privacy or dignity."

And now DIY SOS plan to change that.

Simon’s life changed forever as he made his way home from the Cambridge United match.

He was kicked, punched and had glass bottles thrown at him as he lay defenceless on the floor.

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

The community rallied round to help the DIY SOS team transform the lives of Simon and his family

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Nick looks at the plans to transform Simon’s home, which will make his life so much better
(Image: Warren Gunn)

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Since the vicious attack, 13 men have been convicted for their part in the assault and while they may be behind bars, the nightmare for Simon and his family goes on.

Simon was with a group of friends in the Blue Boar pub, enjoying a drink following Cambridge’s 0-0 draw with Southend.

But little did they know the violent thugs who were to inflict Simon’s horrific injuries had been scouting out potential ‘targets’.

They spotted the group of Cambridge fans Simon was part of as they walked past the Railway Pub on their way to the station.

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Simon, with his wife Nicole, daughter Emily and just some of the volunteers who made the DIY SOS possible
(Image: Warren Gunn)

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Simon has to sleep in the family living room and hasn’t had a shower or a bath for a year

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And in a "carefully prepared ambush" they launched the attack.

Over the course of 90 seconds they inflicted injuries so severe Simon will never again be able to hug his wife or tell her he loves her.

Following the attack, Simon’s devoted wife, Nicole, said: "On March 21, 2015 my life was turned upside down.

"My husband Simon travelled to Southend to watch the football, a day he had so been looking forward to.

“I told him to enjoy the day but this was the last time I would see the husband I married.

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Simon’s daughter, Nicole, and wife, Emily, now care for him at home

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Simon and Nicole are delighted with the changes to their home
(Image: Keith Jones)

“A fun-loving family man, he was always looking out for us.

“While working a night shift I was visited by two police officers who told me Simon had been beaten up and was on life support at Southend Hospital.

“I had to return home to wake our 16-year-old daughter and tell her what happened. This was the hardest thing of all.”

Simon, 45, is now back at home with his family but has had to be re-admitted to hospital numerous times as he has been unable to breathe or clear his throat.

And the life sentence the thugs gave Simon doesn’t just affect him – his whole family has paid the price of their violent actions.

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

It is hoped the changes to Simon’s home will make his life much easier
(Image: Warren Gunn)

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Football fans have rallied around Cambridge United fan Simon

He and Nicole had been planning to go to Australia for their 20th wedding anniversary – a trip they will now never be able to take.

Nicole said when the 13 men were sentenced: "Simon will never walk Emily down the aisle and no child should have to see the dad they love reduced to tears.

"It destroys me knowing that one day I’ll wake up without my husband. I often wonder if it would be better to let him go peacefully."

“I hate what these violent thugs have done. Simon has a life sentence and what will they get? Back to their own lives in a few years.

"These defendants took Simon’s life – it is the acts of the paramedics that brought his life back. I’m disappointed with the justice system – this is wrong and so unfair."

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Nick Knowles and the DOY SOS team hope to change the lives of the family
(Image: PA)

Now, DIY SOS is hoping to transform the family’s lives by rebuilding their home.

Nicole, who is Simon’s full-time carer, said: "I’m totally and utterly overwhelmed by all the offers of help, I’m very excited that Simon will now have the space he deserves, since the court case it has been very difficult.

"But with the help of DIY SOS and the response from the community, it has been a massive pick me up for myself, Simon and our daughter Emily.

"We have also been offered suitable accommodation for us to stay in while the build takes place.

"The DIY SOS team have been in contact with us for sometime now, but due to the court case were unable to proceed until this was over.

"We now have something to look forward to – the changes that will be made to the house will improve not only Simon’s life, but ours as a family."

Who were the 13 men convicted

Lewis Courtnell

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Courtnell was jailed for three-and-a-half years
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge)

Courtnell, 34, a fence installer, of Southend, was found guilty of violent disorder in a unanimous verdict.

He has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Michael Shawyer

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Shawyer was jailed for two-and-a-half years
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge-+44 (0)1179066550)

Shawyer, 31, a tiler, of Leigh-on-Sea, was found not guilty of violent disorder, but guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

This was a majority verdict.

He has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Matthew Petchey

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Petchey as also jailed for three-and-a-half years
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge-+44 (0)1179066550)

Petchey, 26, a labourer, of Rochford, was found guilty of violent disorder in a unanimous verdict.

He has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Alexander Woods

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Woods was locked up for five years

Woods, 25, of Westcliff, was found guilty of violent disorder in a unanimous verdict.

He has been given a five-year jail sentence.

Philip McGill

McGill, 32, an electrician, of Westcliff, was found not guilty of violent disorder but guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

This was a unanimous verdict. He has been jailed for three years.

Thomas Randall

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Randall was also jailed for five years
(Image: SWNS-Cambridg)

Randall, 22, a consumer credit employee, of Southend, was found guilty of violent disorder.

This was a unanimous verdict. He has been jailed for five years.

Greg Allen

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Allen was jailed for three years
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge)

Allen, 29, a painter, of Westcliff, was found not guilty of violent disorder but guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

This was a unanimous verdict. He has been jailed for three years.

James Woods

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Woods was sentenced to three years in prison
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge)

Woods, 25, a chef, of Westcliff, was found guilty of violent disorder in a unanimous verdict.

He has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Scott Nicholls

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Nicholls was jailed for three-and-a-half years
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge)

Nicholls, 40, a construction worker, of Basildon, was found guilty of violent disorder in a unanimous verdict.

He has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Ryan Carter

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Carter will spend five years behind bars
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge)

Carter, 21, unemployed, of Southend, was found guilty of violent disorder in a unanimous verdict.

He has been sentenced to five years behind bars.

Jamie Chambers

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Chambers is behind bars for four years
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge)

Chambers, 24, unemployed, of Southend, was found guilty of violent disorder in a unanimous verdict.

He has been jailed for four years.

Ian Young

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Ian Young was also found guilty
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge)

Young, 41, of Westcliff, was found not guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder, but guilty of assisting an offender.

This was a unanimous verdict.

Rhys Pullen

Simon Dobbin: Heartbreaking DIY SOS after football fan's life was destroyed in 90 seconds by yobs

Pullen was jailed for 16 months
(Image: SWNS-Cambridge-+44 (0)1179066550)

Pullen, 21, of Wickford, had previously pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

He has been jailed for 16 months.