Fans flocking to see Blyth Spartans' Robbie Dale mural

Blyth’s newest attraction is drawing fans from far and wide.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 10:00 am
Shad Saleem, owner of Gino's, and Blyth Spartans club photographer Kris Hodgetts with the finished mural.

It has been a week since the giant mural for Blyth Spartans legend Robbie Dale was completed and visitors have been flocking to see it in person.

Dale – ranked the second best Northern Premier League footballer of all time behind Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy – retired in October last year as the club’s all-time record appearance holder with 680 and second behind Brian Slane in the goalscoring charts with 212.

Fans came together to raise £5,000 for the artwork, carried out by Sunderland-based artist Frank Styles, after fan Simon Neesham started a Gofundme page.

Shad Saleem donated the wall on his Gino’s Fish Bar for the mural and says people are now flocking to catch a glimpse of it, just yards from Spartans’ Croft Park home in Plessey Road.

Shad, who had weeks earlier put a new sign for his chip shop on the wall, said: “Frank came to talk about the mural and when he showed me the image I knew I had to be involved and remove the sign.

"The feedback has been fantastic. Everybody loves it, whether its people stopping in the street to take pictures, customers or neighbours in the street. Nobody has had a bad word to say about it.

"It looks great and the artwork itself is outstanding. Frank is very talented.

"The mural has been quite popular. It’s tidied up an end wall and the elderly people in Patterson House, its immediate neighbours, are happy with it.

"On Saturday we were speaking to some people who had travelled down from Glasgow to see it.”

Shad has noticed an increase in trade at his business as a result but said he agreed to it as it was the right thing for the community.

"I didn’t do this for the extra business,” said Shad.

"I’m hoping it will bring more to Blyth. We’ve got the beaches, the coastline, Ridley Park and now this. It’s something else for the town.

"I’m very honoured to be part of this. All I have done is donated a wall to it.

"I’m very much a community person, I’m all about the community of Blyth and helping it.

"It was a small thing to do, never did I think I would benefit from the back of it.”

The mural has also acted as a new signpost to Croft Park for fans and visitors.

Shad added: “We’ve had visitors and spectators stop us and ask where Croft Park is, and now we have this giant mural to point them in the right direction.”

The artist Frank Styles said: “This is probably the first large scale mural for a player from a non-league club.

"Many thanks to Simon Needham who organised this mural and to the many Spartan fans who contributed to the crowd funding.

"Also thank you to Kris Hodgetts who took the original photo of Robbie that this is based on.

"Also thanks to the landlord Shad Saleem, Peter Henderson and everyone at the club who made me feel very welcome.

"One last thanks to Alex Ayre who has filmed the painting of the mural for a micro documentary on Robbie Dale.

“Had a blast painting this mural.”