EXCLUSIVE: Simon reveals truth behind MAFS reunion rumours
THE Ipswich Cup had a few interstate visitors this year.L
Local man Simon McQuillan was the one to show off the social event of the year to his fellow Married at First Sight (MAFS) participants.
No less than seven of the reality TV stars were at the Ipswich Cup, most of whom travelled a great distance to be there.
Nadia from Brisbane, Lauren from the Gold Coast, Jesse from Adelaide, Sean from Maryborough, John from Melbourne and Simon's TV "wife" Alene also made the trek from Sydney to enjoy a perfect Ipswich winter's day. Anthony (Nadia's TV husband) was also due to come up for the Cup but being involved in horse racing himself, had to work on the day.
Sean Hollands and Simon became very close mates during the show, which remains the most-watched TV series so far of 2017, and their friendship is what led to the reunion.
"It started off in the first place that I was going to go to the Ipswich Cup with my mate Katie, and then Sean called and invited me to his brother's 21st at Brothers Leagues Club that night," Simon said. "I said 'well okay, but if I can go to the Cup for a few hours I'll shoot over after'.
"He then said he'd come to the races with me, so we made a few phone calls to see who else we could get along from the Married at First Sight crew. Put it this way, everyone from the show was invited, plus I contacted Alene personally and asked her along.
"We went to the Cup and then headed off to Brothers for the party. We ended up in Brisbane in a country bar I'd been wanting to go to for a while, it's a favourite of Sean's, called Johnny Ringos.
"I was there till about three in the morning, then stayed in the same hotel as Alene for the night to grab some sleep. She had to choof off early to get back to Sydney, and then I met up with the MAFS boys for breakfast."
Simon believes that his friends from the show all share a special bond, as only they understand what the experience was like to get through.
"It's the first time we've all got together for something like this. In the past, we've all tried to get together, and running my own business, I try to make things coincide with clients while I'm there. In all honesty, it's not always easy for us all to catch up as we are all spread across the country.
"It was good for us all to get out of home and catch up with everyone. Despite some reports, Alene and I are still very good friends. So-called 'professional' writers can claim all these things about what's happening in our private life," Simon said. "According to some magazine, I broke her heart and I was already on Tinder, yet there we were at the Cup walking along together... so don't believe everything you read.
"There was an article a couple of weeks ago and Alene was 'quoted' as saying 'Simon broke my heart', so if that's the case why was she with me at the Ipswich Cup? She was walking right beside me! We went out socialising and even stayed in the same hotel. So yes, we are still good friends."
Being viewed by a massive audience each night on TV has given all the MAFS participants instant recognition wherever they go, and it's something that Simon still can't figure out, but it does mean his new friends all have something in common.
"I think we all share a bond because we all went through the same experience and we still are. When we are out having dinner at Brothers people were looking at us all with their mouths open, and it was the same at breakfast.
"I'm thinking what are you looking at? It was the same as when we were at the Ipswich Cup, people were coming up and taking selfies, and I just say to people 'hey, you do know I eat sleep and poo the same as you, don't you?' I really admire people like Russell Crowe or Matt Damon who have to put with that everywhere they go.
"It's odd to be recognised everywhere you go. By the end of the day at the Ipswich Cup I had some people grabbing at me, pulling at me to get them to go over with them and eventually I had to be a bit rude to get away and say 'no, leave me alone'.
"John said to me that he was really only on the show for a few nights, and fame hasn't had a big effect on him. People in his area recognise him still, and he says he doesn't get recognised as much as I do or Sean, for example. He said I was lucky how I was portrayed as who I am on the show, and I was there till the end."
Out of the entire 10 couples on the show this year, only one remains together (Nick and Sharon), and as far as Simon knows, they are all still looking for love.
"As far as I'm aware most of us are still single," Simon said. "It wasn't something we spoke much of to be honest, but I'm of the opinion that everyone is still floating along, plus we've all been so darn busy.
"They all had a fantastic time in Ipswich, the Ipswich Cup was a total blast, and being amongst the marquees meant that didn't have to look over our shoulders all time. I think it was Sean who said the same thing. He said it was nice to not feel like we were on display and had to race off to do an interview every five minutes.
"I'm always in contact with Sean, and its now to the point where we're not talking about the program, we can be ourselves. During filming, we'd meet up at about 8am each day and have a coffee, comparing how we were being spoken to or being asked to act out things on the show. It's weird being on 'reality TV' and have to act out our own lives."
After all that's happened in his life over the past 12 months, the question has to be asked, what would Simon tell himself if he could go back before all the madness began.
"If I could go back in time and whisper in my own ear some advice, what would I say? It's funny, that was something that we all spoke about with each other, and that's the question, would we do it again? We all agreed yes. I was very lucky how I was portrayed on the show and we've got to meet some fantastic people along the way.
"We know in the next few months things will die down, and people will move on. Unless I prang a car or misbehave, then it will be Married at First Sight's Simon blah, blah, blah.
"It was one hell of a weekend!"